In the summer of 1973, a salesman of industrial bearings named Eugene Kiefel began looking for a job change. While driving his rounds he’d narrowly avoided a couple collisions, and figured he’d better find something safer. He exploreded several local opportunities, including go-kart sales and a Dairy Queen franchise, when he saw a classified ad in the Denver Post: Bike Shop For Sale.
Having done some apprenticeship time with bicycles and motorcycles in his native Germany, he responded to the ad. In August 1973, Eugene purchased the shop.
Starting with $4,800 and 750 square feet, Eugene built a bicycle empire. In 1973, the store staff included Eugene and, well ... Eugene. During the summers he expanded his staff with the addition of his three children, Ron, Erlinda and Leona.
Opening Day, August 15, 1973 Erlinda Leona Ron December 1979, as evidenced by the copy of BMX Plus! magazine Eugene and his first customer for sale on the countertop. Note high-end BMX racing frames at top of frame.
Within a few years business was increasing steadily and it truly became a family affair when Eugene’s wife Nora took on the dedicated position of clothing buyer, enhancing the scope and diversity of a category that has become a hallmark of WRC’s offerings.
Youngest sister Leona worked closely with her father in building the company in the 1980s, and later was a traveling sales representative for Trek Bicycles. Leona’s husband, Gil McCormick, took over the duties of General Manager in the early 1990s, a position he held for 14 years during a time of great growth for the company.
Middle sister Erlinda is the family rocket scientist. She develops advanced aerospace technology as a propulsion engineer with Lockheed-Martin. She’s also a powerhouse on the bike and has competed in cycling at a high level, including the 1990 and 1991 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships.
The oldest of the children, Ron, left the shop to race bikes. After an impressive and successful run in juniors competition, he was selected to join the first American team to compete in the Grand Tours of Europe: Team 7-Eleven. This legendary squad laid the foundation for U.S. professional cycling and led Ron on a cycling adventure that included becoming the first American to win a stage in the Giro d’Italia and a medal in the 1984 Olympics (team time trial, bronze.) He raced in and completed seven Tours de France, and was U.S. National Road Champion in 1983 and 1988.
Today Ron is President and General Manager of WRC. (We don’t want to think about what might have been if Eugene had chosen the DQ franchise.) WRC operates out of a 30,000 sq. ft. facility that has grown around the original 750 sq. ft. spot, selling thousands of bicycles each year, and we still treat our customers with the same respect, honesty and value Eugene began with 41 years ago.
VIDEO LINKS TO FAMILY STORY SERIES HERE