Even before the pandemic hit, Dave Stock knew it was time to change professions. He had been in the printing industry for almost 40 years and everything seemed routine. “It was like playing the same record over and over and over again,” Dave said.
Dave had seen a decline in the printing business over the past five years. More and more people were relying on digital rather than print. Then COVID hit. For a business that relied heavily on printed invitations, programs and other items for in-person events, COVID was devastating. “Printing is never going to go away, but it’s certainly not where it used to be,” Dave said.
“I felt like I was banging my head against the wall. I just didn’t have the same happiness,” Dave said.
However, printing was not Dave’s only job. Six years ago, Dave had taken on a part-time job at his neighborhood bike store, Race Pace. He and his wife, Madeline, had made cycling part of their daily life preferring to run their errands around Baltimore City on their bikes. He spent time at the store getting his bike serviced and buying accessories. When he saw they were hiring, he put in an application and was hired. At first, there wasn’t a position at Race Pace in Federal Hill, so he worked at the one in Ellicott City until a position closer to his home became available. That was about six months later.
While COVID hit the printing business hard, cycling experienced a resurgence. More people wanted to get outside and get exercise while confined during COVID. The bike store saw a huge increase in business and Dave was offered more hours.
In January 2022, Race Pace was bought out by Trek. During this transition, some executives from Trek visited the store and asked Dave if he would be interested in a full-time position “They said, have you ever thought about coming on board full-time. Let’s have a conversation,” Dave said. “We had the conversation and they gave me an opportunity.”
“I was on a sinking ship and saw a life raft and I took it,” Dave said.
But his decision wasn’t final until he discussed it with Madeline. They went away on vacation to discuss the move. “She said, ‘just do it. If it doesn’t work out. it doesn’t work out. I don’t want you to have any regrets,'” Dave said.
So, in April, Dave decided to retire from printing. “I don’t like to call it retiring,” Dave said. “I call it my next chapter.”
“I think of retirement as moving to Florida and doing water aerobics,” Dave said. At 58, he’s not ready for that.
So now, he is the Sales Manager for Trek Bicycle Federal Hill. His responsibilities include selling bikes and accessories, making sure goals are met and training new employees. “I answer to the Store Manager,” Dave said.
His typical day starts with having a cup of coffee with Madeline in their backyard. “I trying to get used to retail hours,” Dave said. He used to have to be to work at 9:00 in the morning and worked 5 days a week. Now, he goes to work around 10:30 a.m. and has off Tuesdays and Saturdays. The store is about half a mile from his house.
So he spends his morning going to the local coffee shop, meeting friends or going for a bike ride.
“The biggest change is the mindset,” Dave said. It’s been a total change in routine.
His work day starts with a “team huddle” where they go over what needs to be accomplished that day.
Dave says there is no typical customer. “We have everyone from advanced cyclists to people who haven’t ridden a bike since they were a kid.” Dave said. “It’s never the same.”
His favorite part of the job is helping customers. “There’s nothing like sending someone on a test drive and they come back with a smile they haven’t had since they were a kid. There’s such a sense of joy.” Dave said.
He feels that his job is guiding customers to the right bike. “Trek has a guide sales process. You are the guide and the customer is the hero.” Dave said. The sales person wants to help the customer have a safe enjoyable experience on a bike.
Ride bikes. Be happy. Have fun. is Trek’s motto.
The most challenging part of his new life is learning a whole new industry. He has always been in sales, but bikes are a whole different product.
The bike business has changed now that people are getting out more. Customers are now looking to upgrade their bikes, service their bikes and buy accessories. He said they don’t see as many people coming in for their first bikes.
However, there is a growing interest in e-bikes, electric bikes. Dave said e-bikes are really making a big surge. “Trek is coming out with some more affordable models,” Dave said. He adds that that Trek is also coming out with a commuter e-bike.
Riding in Baltimore City
Dave says it’s a misconception that the city is a difficult place to ride a bike. “There are many bike friendly roads and bike lanes,” Dave said.”The city is quite easy to navigate on a bike.” In addition, Baltimore City is working on a biking infrastructure, according to Dave.
“I love the freedom of riding my bike,” Dave said. “You see a heck of a lot more from a bike than you do from a car.”
Part of Dave’s job is to lead a Sunday bike ride at 9:00 a.m. through Baltimore City. It’s called the “Causal Shop Ride”. “It’s slow pace. It’s causal. We stop along the way if someone wants to stop,” Dave said. Right now there are only half a dozen people, but he is hoping to grow that number.
Changes in His Relationship
Dave said his relationship with Madeline has changed “exponentially”. “We were both going through some big changes and I wasn’t happy,” Dave said. She would say “Where is the man that I married?”
Now she says, “You’re happy. I have my husband back.”
They have been married for almost 12 years. “She always has my back,” Dave said.
Although Dave’s job may sound like all fun and games, he had to consider whether or not this job made sense financially. “I looked at my finances and knew how much I needed to make,” Dave said. He has been able to meet those goals and is even doing better than he did working in printing.
“My wife and I had a big conversation before I left, but it was about so much more than money, it was about happiness,” Dave said.
“We know what we can afford. We don’t live with extravagances. We live a very simple life.”
They have paid off their home in Baltimore and have an investment property in Florida. Due to COVID, they have not been able to rent it out, but now they are hoping to rent it to traveling nurses.
For Dave, his health care situation has actually improved. “TREK provides tremendous health care,” Dave said. In his previous job, he carried he and Madeline on his health care plan, since she is a solopreneur, so good health care was important. “TREK health care is very similar to what I had before.”
In addition, he and Madeline make sure to lead a healthy lifestyle. In fact, since his career change, he has lost 15 pounds. He has more time to eat healthy rather than picking up fast food. “I used to be on the road and it was just easier to pick up a cheeseburger,” Dave said. Now he’s moving more and eating regularly. He has even seen a reduction in his blood pressure.
Dave is not sure what his future holds. “I’ll probably always work doing something. I need that interaction with other people,” Dave said. “I thrive off of that.”
Because TREK is a large organization with stores all over the United States, there is the ability to move to another state and stay with the organization. He keeping all his options open.
Final Words of Advice
Dave’s advice. “Just do it. Don’t be afraid. Fear can be crippling,” However, he also recommends doing your research to make sure it’s the right decision for you.
Even though Dave is no longer involved with printing, he stays on top of what is going on and is proud of the contribution he made. “I feel like a did something good in the industry. Sometimes I thought I didn’t make that much of a difference, but based on the response on Facebook, I obviously did,” Dave said. Dave was flooded with well wishes when he announced his “next chapter.”
“I saw my father work himself to death. I don’t want to just work for the sake of working. I want to work doing something I’m enjoying,” Dave said.
“I enjoy learning something new every day,” Dave said.
If you need a new bike, make sure to stop by and see Dave at the Trek Bicycle Federal Hill store. You’ll make his day.
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