Industry Nine Factory Visit
If you’re not already familiar, Industry Nine is a pretty killer wheel company out of Asheville, North Carolina.
[photo courtesy of industrynine.net]
They make some flashy, yet bomber hubs that lace to some equally impressive made-in-house proprietary spokes.
Recently on a dealer trip to the area, we had the chance to tour their facilities in Asheville. Our good buddy Dave (A.K.A Sketch Brah) introduced us to some of his colleagues and we set up a tour with Head Honcho, Clint. It was a pretty cool opportunity to see a young company making fresh products here in the good old U.S. of A.
[outside I9 HQ]
We asked Owner/ Chief Engineer Clint Spiegel to share a few behind the scenes details from Industry 9, or I9 for short.
KM: How long have you been making hubs?
CS: 10 years since first started developing the hubs. Selling them for the past 8
KM: What product are you most proud of?
CS: Our main wheel system with aluminum spokes and the 3 degree engagement is our best system and I am most proud of all the wheels based on that system. I am also really proud of all the effort we put into the minute details of every system and our efforts to make the most beautiful products out there.
[Clint outside a wizard robot box or CNC machine; Clint showing us what 3 degree engagement looks like]
KM: How many people does I9 employ? Who is the fastest mountain biker in the shop? What are your favorite trails to ride in the area?
CS: 15 people employed. Jacob fastest all around, Jake fastest descending, Ricky fastest cyclocross, I am the slowest, but not that slow. I love squirrel gap, but hard to choose, tons of great trails around here.
KM: What aspect of manufacturing in the US is the biggest challenge?
CS: It is easier to manufacture in the US, but I imagine the costs are a little higher. I have been manufacturing since a kid, so it is like breathing, not that hard. But like life in general, you get your ass kicked a little every day, and some days you get the shit kicked out of you.
[Tools of the trade: bar stock, magic robot cutter tool; precision measurementometer; from bar stock to hub shell; another magic robot cutter tool; I sunk your battleship]
KM: You do your own in-house anodizing? Why not outsource this difficult step?
CS: No one seems to be able to anodize as well as we do, plus we have so many different colors and combos, I think we would fail as a company if we didn't anodize.
[Anodizing ain't easy: manning the process; don't drink the kool-aid; highly polished, pre-ano hubshells up close; highly polished, pre-ano hubshells en masse]
KM: I heard about your open door policy in the wheel shop. Does it ever get too cold to keep it open?
CS: It will never be too cold.
KM: Where would you like to see I9 in 5 years? 10?
CS: I hope to keep growing and making more kick ass products. I don't like to make specific goals, just go for it every day.
[i9 back door left wide open lets sticker graffiti artists wreak mayhem]
KM: Do you think your team could realistically beat the in-house PDW basketball team? We made a video.
CS: My guys think we could handle your pros, but I will bring the team down.
KM: Sounds like it’s on. We play every Thursday night in Portland. Thanks a lot Clint!