Founder of Trek, Richard Burke, Dies at 73

Posted by on Mar 16, 2008 in Culture, Sports | No Comments

As a lifelong, avid cyclist (Cannondale) I was surprised I didn’t notice that Richard Burke, the founder of Trek has passed away.

The first Trek bikes, manufactured 30 years ago in a barn in Waterloo, Wisconsin, were cult items, appealing to purists who would no more ride their fathers’ Schwinns than drive their fathers’ Oldsmobiles. But Trek had no brand strategy or money to advertise, and in the early years it wobbled badly. Richard Burke turned things around by positioning the company to ride the rising interest in competitive cycling. Today Trek—still in Waterloo, now employing 1,727 people worldwide and producing annual revenue of $600 million—is the largest bicycle company in the United States and the second largest in the world. The company is famous for its carbon fiber frames and really, really famous for making the bikes Lance Armstrong pedaled to seven victories in the Tour de France. Burke, 71, is chairman of the board and Trek’s majority shareholder. His son John became CEO in 1998.

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