Friday, February 19, 2010

"There comes a time in a man's life..."

o doubt all guys have heard these cliche words uttered poetically during every dreaded 'one-on-one' with Dad.  It is inevitable...and I'm sure the ladies have their own version.  For a guy, these 'times' are varied, but always involve dramatic change, whether it be the transition to puberty, the joy of marriage, the arrival of kids, or the devastating 'mid-life crisis'.  Rest assured, there is always a 'time', and it always comes.  For me, one of those 'times' has just dropped by.  The time to consciously and drastically change careers.

For the past 16+ years, I have been actively employed in the architectural and commercial development industries.  I received my Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Kentucky (which hangs on the wall next to my Associate of Arts degree from Cuyahoga Community College) and have worked for some of the best architects and developers in Cleveland and New York City.  My portfolio is packed with drawings and 3D renderings of projects across the design spectrum, from newspaper facilities and church renovations to beachfront condos and 800,000 sq ft lifestyle centers.
White Oak Village - Richmond, Virginia 

And now?  Now, I sell bicycles. 

Yes, as of March 1st, 2010, I will be selling bicycles for Century Cycles in Medina, Ohio.  And ya know what? I couldn't be happier.  Some of you may be thinking I have completely fallen off the wagon, but allow me to explain.

The biggest factor in making this career change was that the architectural and development industries in Cleveland are, thanks to the current harsh economy, going nowhere.  Unfortunately, even in the best of times, longevity in these companies is never guaranteed.  You are hired, and ultimately let go, based on the influx of projects.  Consequently, since graduating college in 1991, I've worked for nine different firms!  Now, in the past, when work was sparse at one firm, you could always count on another to pick up the slack and rescue you from the streets.  Not so this time around.  After almost a year and a half of unemployment, the job market remains eerily lifeless.  It was painfully clear that my industry would mount no rescue.  Time to start looking elsewhere.

Yes, architecture may have been my career of choice many moons ago, but it is the industry and sport of cycling towards which I have a significantly greater passion.  Although it started as just a casual weekend activity during my high school days, it quickly morphed into a serious undertaking thanks to a life-altering car accident in college (see my first blog post for more details). The rest, as yet another cliche aptly states, is history.  Now, after decades of riding and multiple tours under my belt, I have a unique opportunity to turn this love of cycling into a full time job.  Of course, despite my interest in bikes, the leap was not automatic.  First, there was the obvious fact that I would be moving into a field well outside my current job skills.  Next, there was the drama of swapping out my "9-5 and weekends free" office mentality with the more hectic "open 7 days a week" retail sales mindset.  Finally, and the biggest obstacle of all, was the compensation disparity.  I prepared myself to expect pay to be at least half of what I made as an architect, but the reality was slightly more frightening.  In fact, the pay I would be pulling down at the bike store would be significantly less than even the pay I received at my very first job out of college almost 18 years ago!!!!  Gulp.  Undaunted, I kept focus on the positives.  I would be doing something I truly enjoyed with a group of people who had the same passion! Very cool.  In addition, I may even have the opportunity to bring my talk radio hosting skills to the table with the creation of an all-cycling radio show for Century Cycles.  Very cool, indeed.

So, with unemployment benefits rapidly evaporating, and my architectural profession leaving me high-and-dry, I decided it was time to take the plunge into an exciting new venture.  Is it a smart move? My heart seems to think so, and so do my friends.  Let's see if reality proves them right.

(For more on Century Cycles, check out

1 comment:

  1. Great news, Bob! Looking forward to having you on the CC team!