Getting A Dream Job in the BMX Industry
Jonas Kaadt Talks About Life at Centrano Distribution
22 Jun 2022
In conjunction with Centrano.com
Finding job in the BMX industry isn't easy so when the opportunity comes along you have to grab it with both hands, even when, as in this case, it meant putting life as a firefighter temporarily on hold. Demark's Jonas Kaadt is the category manager for BMX at Centrano Distribution in Europe and has direct contact with all the BMX brands they deal with worlwide. With 15 years of experience as a BMXer under his belt in a country where BMX culture is pretty small, Jonas was the perfect fit for the job. Shortly before planning a return to firefighting, we caught up with Jonas to find out about his role and the story behind his employer Centrano.
How did you get into BMX Jonas?
I used to ride Motocross since I was 8-16 years old and we were always digging smaller dirt jumps for our kid's bikes between all the races. I have always loved riding bikes, so I got a dirt jumper later on and went to Tjele boarding school after my main school. There was not a skatepark at the school back then, only a BMX Race track, but the teachers took us to some skateparks and some bigger dirt jumps and I was sold into BMX.
And how did you get your job at Centrano?
The BMX culture is super small in Denmark, the skateboarders were the majority in the skateparks back then. (This was before scooters became very big). That means that BMX was only allowed 1 day every week in my local skatepark and that was together with Aggressive skaters.
Back in 2010 did I meet this super cool aggressive skater Daniel Clausen and we used to ride together in our local indoor skatepark. Almost 5 years later Daniel called me and asked if I wanted to help Centrano and SkatePro by setting up the BMX category. The company has not been selling BMX before at this time. At that time in my life, I was on my way to being deployed as a firefighter in Kosovo.
Luckily Centrano and the SkatePro team could wait until I came back and I could be hired after that.
"BMX was only allowed 1 day every week in my local skatepark and that was together with Aggressive skaters."
What exactly do you do day to day?
My job at Centrano and SkatePro started as a product specialist where I assisted the purchasing department about what to buy and so. The other part of the job was to create all the products in the system, add photos, specs, etc
Around two years later I joined the purchasing department and have been working as a category manager for BMX ever since.
The main task is the make the purchase orders at all the brands or suppliers we are working with. The true story is that making the orders is only a very small part of the job. All the hard work is the logistics and paperwork back and forth between suppliers, vendors, forwarders, and the customs.
A big part of my job has always been finding the riders for our teams, both Centrano and SkatePro. A super exciting part of my job, it feels so good to support these upcoming riders and help them with their professional careers. Sometimes do I not need to do any effort becuase some of the riders think we have a cool team and want to join it and that feels even better.
Do you enjoy working directly with the brands?
Yes, I really like the communication with all the partners we are working with. E-mails, phone calls and video meetings are a big part of my job. It is really a pleasure to work together with so many brands.
What is the Centrano story? How was Centrano born?
Centrano started out as a normal retail shop (in Denmark). After a few years, other shops started asking us to buy products from us at favorable prices, to resell to their clients at the local level. We realized that there were holes in supply markets, so we slowly started reaching distribution agreements with our suppliers, to the point where Centrano was officially born. Starting as a shop and then developing into a distribution company helped us understand our industry from different points of view. It has also helped us create an action sports eco-system where we try to connect brands with shops, users, riders, event planners, influencers, and publications like yours. Our purpose is to support, inspire and grow the action sports industry and the riders’ communities.
Are you all BMX riders?
Our team is formed by over 150 employees. Many of my colleagues have action sports as an important part of their lifestyle and several of them are also BMX riders, but we also have people doing other sports.
How many BMX shops across Europe do you supply?
Centrano is present in over 40 countries and we have over 3000 shops registered across all categories. Around 20% of the total are BMX shops, both core shops and other action sport shops that also include BMX in their catalog.
"At that time in my life, I was on my way to being deployed as a firefighter in Kosovo."
Which are the main BMX brands do you work with?
We have a close relationship with our brand partners. Some of them are distributed by us in a specific group of countries, while with others we work at a pan-European level. Brands distributed in specific markets are (in alphabetical order): Academy, BSD, Cinema, Colony, Cult, Demolition, Division, Eclat, Family, Federal, Fiction, FUSE, Haro, Kink, Mafia, Mankind, Mission, Premium, Radio, Salt, Salt Plus, Stolen, Tall Order, TLC, Volume, WeThePeople. Brands distributed at a pan-European level are Academy, Colony, Division, Family, Fiction, Stolen and Wildcat.
What’s your connection to SkatePro?
SkatePro and Centrano are two different companies with two different client groups, but which share ownership and interests. In theory, Skatepro is one of our clients and partners. We work at the commercial level, but we also do lots of collaborations regarding sponsorship of events, riders and campaigns, like we do with hundreds of other shops all around Europe every year.
How do you deal with the criticism from the shops that you supply that you’re connected to a big mail-order company?
SkatePro has its roots as an individual small shop in Denmark, where they still today keep their brick and mortar shop + skatepark. It is true though, that they have also developed online sales across many international markets, like many other shops do today. There will always be some that complain. On the other hand, we know that many distribution companies in the action sports’ industry also run a shop or several. SkatePro has existed for many years and has developed their company to the size it is today.
What is your take on the BMX retail business right now? How are things going and how could it improve?
We saw a huge jump in BMX demand in 2020 and 2021. It is probably mainly because of the covid-19 situation all over the world. Sadly, like everybody knows, this huge demand together with lack of raw materials and lack of containers worldwide, also resulted in inflation, delays, and oversaturated markets in 2022. Sales are far from what anyone would wish, but we believe in a recovery pattern of a year, which starts to show its first signals.
What have you guys got in the works? Any exciting projects coming up?
We are very stoked about our Tall Order & FUSE rider Dean Larsen being also sponsored by RedBull. Later this summer, we will be sponsoring several small shop events in different countries, but also larger events like Ghetto Games in Latvia and Extreme Barcelona in Spain. There are other interesting projects in our drawer, which are confidential for now :)
Who is on your team? How do you go about selecting team riders?
As a multi-sports distribution company in the action sports industry, we do not manage teams ourselves. Rather, we support shops all over Europe with their teams of riders, and we also represent and collaborate with teams of riders from our brands. By proxy, we work with hundreds of riders worldwide, like for example
Alex Donnachie (BSD)
Dean Larsen (Tall Order & FUSE)
Stephan Atencio (WeThePeople)
Lasse Søltoft (Cult & Doomed)
Emil Grønning (Mankind)
Jacob Nedler (WeThePeople)
Marcel Gans (Colony)
Nikolaj Weber (WeThePeople)
Marcus Diemar (Kink)
Austin Mazur (Cult & Merritt)
Bjarki Harðarson (Shadow & Subrosa)
Jaume Sintes (Cult & Primo)
and many more.
What is your vision for Centrano? Where do you see the business in ten years?
Our company vision is “Support, Inspire, Grow”. That means extending our support to the community and industry in general, inspiring people to continue to be motivated and attracting newcomers, as well as helping our partners grow. That is our core idea. In 10 years many things can change, but you can be sure we will not stop working hard everyday. We started with 1 brand some years ago in Denmark, and today we represent over 200 brands in all categories and in over 40 brands. It is an ongoing process and we are excited to see where it leads.
Do you have any predictions on what the next big trend in BMX products will be?
We see a big trend in Planetary hubs like the BSD revolution and Colony Swarm hubs. We also think that “Planetary technology” will be the new standard for freecoaster hubs. We also see a very big interest in the WeThePeople Hybrid hubs. The riders start to request an opportunity to switch from cassette to freecoaster in a very easy way. The WeThePeople Hybrid hub is a perfect solution for that. Bigger bikes like cruisers and wheelie bikes are also becoming incredibly popular in our markets and we think this trend will continue to develop in the next few years. In a more general market related sense, we could see a noticeable increase in interest for Race BMX parts and complete bikes in 2022, especially in countries like Spain and France. We hope this trend continues.
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