Business Development

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An Interview with John David, Chief Operating Officer, American Bicycle Association

31 Dec, 2011

By: Juli Anne Patty

 

John David, Chief Operating Officer, American Bicycle Association (USA BMX, BMX Canada)
Years in industry
13
 
Years in current position
2
 
What is the mission of your organization?
The mission of the American Bicycle Association is to develop and foster all aspects of the sport of bicycle motocross (BMX) racing through aggressive promotion of local, regional, national and international events.
 
Nationally, how many participants do you have?
70,000
 
How many events are held each year?
13,000 local level events, 250 state level events, 65 regional events and 30 national events
 
In what regions/locations are they held?
Events are held across the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.
 
As an organization, what do you look for in a location?
BMX racing events are held either in indoor arenas or existing BMX tracks. First and foremost, it’s finding a facility that can accommodate the size of the event and offers a good experience for the participants and spectators. Next, we zoom out and look at the major factors such as geographic location, accessibility to airport(s), hotels, etc.  Once we have identified a possible location, the next component is the support strength of the CVB and/or sports commission and LOC.  
 
From an event management standpoint, what is the most challenging aspect of your job?
With 30 national events, it can be very easy to get lost in the raw number of events and lose site of the quality of event we are producing for our customers.  I constantly remind myself that each event could be the first and last national for a family depending on the experience we offer. I always challenge our CVB and sports commission partners to help us make their event unique.
 
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Unequivocally it’s the smiling faces peering out of the BMX helmets of our participants either sitting in staging, nervously waiting to race or just completing the lap of their life.  As a former BMX racer I understand the life lessons our sport teaches kids, the power of experiencing a great event as a family and the passion of our customers.  Every time I see those smiles, it reminds me of the true influence of our sport and how it far outreaches the day’s event. 
 
What is your biggest challenge in organizing your organization's events?
Location, Location, Location!  We work very hard to provide our customers with ample opportunities to attend great events. With a nationwide membership and 30 events, it is important to spread the events out to each market. However, we have challenges finding locations especially during the winter/spring months in areas like the Northeast.  During these months we search for indoor venues, which are often hard to find as we need plenty of floor space and lots of dirt to build the race track.
 
Please describe how you feel your knowledge, skills and experience have contributed to the success of the sports events in which you are involved.
The key to our success is the strength of the ABA staff and volunteers.  Almost all of them have deep ties to BMX and their passion for the sport and dedication has allowed us to become the organization we are today!  My focus is to foster the team aspect by creating an environment that allows for ample communication and continuity.  Within this culture, our staff is involved in the process and better capable to overcome challenges that may be presented.
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