Devinci's story was almost stopped in its tracks before it had even got going. In 1990, Felix Gauthier took the plunge and invested into a little known bike manufacturer called Da Vinci who were fabricating aluminium bike frames in his home city of Chicoutimi. It only took a few months for Felix to realise the road ahead was going to be a rough ride. Hundreds frames hung over his head for warranty thanks to a fault in their manufacturing methods. To remedy it would require a costly investment in an oven to perfect the heat treatment on their frames, which they simply could not afford.
The only route forward was to build their own oven which was still by no means cost effective for a company still to find its feet but with the right infrastructure and processes nailed, they could at the very least finally start chipping away at the warranty pile. “In 1993 I was replacing more frames than I was selling” Felix admits.
Fast forward to the present and Devinci is still working out of Chicoutimi with Felix at the helm, still proudly stamping ‘"Made in Canada" into each aluminium frame welded in the Factory. Of course things are now plain sailing compared to the first footsteps that Devinci took in the market, but that doesn't mean Felix and his team are taking a back seat approach as he reminds me: “we can never sleep, the market is always changing.”
Walking through the factory is like walking through Devinci's history. There are memories of the late Stevie Smith dotted throughout, he is sorely missed by everyone both inside and outside of Devinci. Trophies from World Cup wins and EWS success are proudly on show with old relics like the 'BigBang' now retired to shelves above office desks. Somewhere round the back you'll even come across the old oven that has since been decommissioned after playing a pivotal roll in the early years. There's a loyalty and proudness that runs deep inside the walls here.
It started with a bike crash, a big accident in 1988. I had to get stitches in the face, and I broke my leg. I was recovering and I was telling my friend I wanted to buy a new aluminium frame. He told me that there was someone making aluminium bikes in town and that I should look him up. So I met the local guy and bought one from him. Two years later I lost my parents and got a small inheritance. The frame builder came to me, he was looking for a partner. I got involved not really knowing what I was getting into. He had zero employees and zero customers, and I realised that he had several frames waiting on warranty repairs. I asked myself, ‘What should I do?’
Well, we can never sleep because it's always changing. But we’re well positioned because we have a great, forward-thinking team. This includes our passionate in- house staff, but it also extends to our athletes and ambassadors around the world. These guys are out there racing and riding everyday. They’re really tuned to the latest trends, and the feedback they provide keeps us in-step, or even a step ahead of what’s happening.