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The Sam M. Walton College of Business

Episode 196: Following Your Passion Into Your Career with Brendan Quirk

October 12, 2022  |  By Matt Waller

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This week on the Be Epic podcast Matt sits down with Brendan Quirk, CEO and President of USA Cycling, for a very special episode on all things cycling leading into the Cyclocross World Cup, which will be hosted October 14-16, 2022 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. They begin their discussion with Brendan recapping how his passion for cycling started at the age of 15, which led to him to open a small retail bike shop in Little Rock, Arkansas. The bike shop soon expanded thanks to their early foray into e-commerce and eventually it became the largest e-commerce cycling company in North America. The company was eventually acquired by Following his experience in selling bikes, Brendan moved to the cycling apparel industry as the President of Rapha North America. He then transitioned to cycling program director at Runway Group to build the mountain biking trail and cycling ecosystem that we have in place in Northwest Arkansas today. Finally, he served as interim CEO of Allied Cycleworks on the cycling manufacturing side and then to his current role as Chief Executive Officer and President of USA Cycling, the non-profit governing body of the sport of bike racing in the United States.

Episode Transcript

Brendan Quirk  0:01  
But where we are now in 2022 is we can take what we have in Northwest Arkansas, from the mountain biking infrastructure standpoint, and from a mountain bike culture standpoint, and we can put it up against anybody's in the world. It's it is absolutely transformative what happens.

Matt Waller  0:17  
Excellence, professionalism, innovation and collegiality. These are the values the Sam M. Walton College of Business explores in education, business and the lives of people we meet every day, I'm Mat Waller, Dean of the Walton College and welcome to the Be Epic Podcast. I have with me today, Brendan Quirk, who is Chief Executive Officer of USA Cycling. But he has a long history of leadership and entrepreneurship in sports, the sports industry in cycling in particular. Thank you so much, Brendan, for taking time to meet with me. I really appreciate it. 

Brendan Quirk  0:57  
My pleasure. 

Matt Waller  0:59  
So, Brendan, you, you know, people often say, follow your passion to some degree. I actually don't say that a lot. Because if you're like me, you never know what your passion is for sure. But clearly, you've done that. It seems like to me, am I right about that?

Brendan Quirk  1:22  
Oh, for sure. Yeah. To a fault. I followed my passion. And thankfully, it it worked out. I guess I was lucky. You know, you go back to the stone ages of media. The first time I ever saw a bike race was in 1986, a long time ago. That's back it certainly pre internet, it was even pre cable TV. And I was 15 years old, flipping channels, which back then was flipping through four channels, I think. It was on a Saturday afternoon, and I stumbled across television coverage of the Tour de France. Never had seen it. Never thought of that. You know, I was living in Little Rock. And I've never even seen a big mountain before. Yeah, I've never been to Colorado, I've never, never, never seen anything like that. And I came across the day of the big Alpine state one of the days of the big Alpine stages of the Tour de France. And it's so happens and you look back in history. 1986 is one of the most dramatic races that the tour ever had. And I came across it. And it just hit me like a lightning bolt. And it was like a religious experience. It's like, oh, man, this is the most beautiful, amazing thing I've ever seen in my life. I need to figure this sport out. And I just got obsessed with it starting back then when I was 15, then the obsession has never stopped. And I'm so grateful. I was flipping the channels that afternoon.

Matt Waller  2:50  
No kidding. You never know what you're gonna come across in life that that really trips your trigger, so to speak. Back in Little Rock, back in 1999, you started a retail bike shop. What you did too as you got into the e-commerce area of being a bicycle retailer, which back in the early days was really unusual. Would you mind talking about that a little bit?

Brendan Quirk  3:26  
Yeah, we started a retail bike shop in the Hillcrest neighborhood of Little Rock. I mean, this thing was the size of a shoebox, it was tiny. And, you know what, what pure, like a lot of small business owners it was a function of my passion for, you know, for this business for this industry. What what's interesting about having been in Little Rock is that the bike market was not big at that point, you know what really caused an explosion and cycling in America was Lance Armstrong becoming a phenomenon. He won the Tour de France seven years in row and it started in 1998. We opened this bike shop in the late 90s right around the time that that happened. And I would say the cultural the broad cultural impact of Lance Armstrong a popular popularizing cycling hadn't really happened yet in 1999. So the bike market was still small in Little Rock. But because I was racing bikes, I was very passionate for high end bikes, exotic bikes, exotic bike equipment, that kind of stuff you're not going to sell a lot of in Little Rock. And so the guy who I started the bike shop with who is actually a U of A graduate, his name is Craig Zediker. We we turned to the internet very early, that era of the internet, you know, there was no such thing as a checkout path. No such thing as encrypted credit cards. You literally could not do commerce on the internet at that point. Rather what you had is the internet was kind of like Reddit, if you imagine Reddit with no photos and no videos, these are listserv groups and you snap forums and this sort of prehistoric social media. That's how we connected with people across America who are passionate about cycling. And we started selling some high end bike goods off your through these forums and through these groups. And what that gave me a lens into is Matt, the national Bike market is pretty big for high end bike stuff. It's something I really didn't have a view into through Little Rock. And so we we really started to focus on that. And when you go into 2000 2001, when the first movement in e-commerce, and this is ecommerce 1.0, when that started happening, you most of the national scale bike retail that was being done was still through catalogs at that point. We're like, you know what, there's a real opportunity here, we didn't use the phrase, first mover advantage, but that's what we did. And we went all in on the internet. And we found some great design firms, some great technology consultants, and we poured our heart and soul into building a business called competitive cyclist. You fast forward from 2000 2001. When we started that, to 2011, what we ended up doing in Central Arkansas, is building the largest e-commerce cycling company in North America. And it was one of the three or four biggest in the world. And it was just the most improbable, incredible journey. But we poured our heart and soul into it. We followed our passion and it worked.

Matt Waller  6:26  
Yeah, I love that story. Of course, I've I've known it for a while since I've known you. But it is such a neat story. And to think that it happened right here. And then of course, you sold the company to That was a big deal. I mean, there weren't a lot of e-commerce companies being sold in Arkansas.

Brendan Quirk  6:56  
Yeah, no, I agree there were not and it was. So you know, it's so just full disclosure. So I was a English major in college. And I do have a master's degree, but it's in creative writing, not in business administration. And then Craig Zediker, who was my co-founder of Competitive Cyclist, his degree from the U of A was in communications. So you know, the amount of business know how that we had was not great. You know, wherre we were really fortunate is that we had an incredible board of advisors from across America that had the expertise that we didn't have that helped us, you know, when we got to a point, if you remember, 2008 2009, the great American mortgage crisis, you know, that that was a real wake up call for our business. It's like, okay, what, you know, we are definitely selling discretionary goods here. And how do we ride the wave of the economy? How do we manage this, because we never took outside capital into the business, we relied on a great relationship with our bank, we relied on vendor credit, as we became a kind of, as we become a bigger and bigger part of our vendors lives, we could lean on them harder for better terms, that's really, we kind of cash flowed and used debt to grow the business, never took outside capital. And we got to a point when we got through 2008 2009, what we recognized, even during the mortgage crisis, is that our customers are so passionate about cycling, that no matter what else is going on in the economy, they were going to spend money on the thing that they had the greatest passion for, which was their bikes. So we went into the mortgage crisis saying, oh, man, are we in big trouble? And we actually got through it in pretty good condition. But at that point, it was such a scare we recognized okay, you know, we are basically personally guaranteeing everything having to do with this business, We have no outside capital. We were growing so rapidly, that we weren't going to be able to continue to cash flow and use debt to grow the business, we were going to have to find a different means of growing. So as we and our board of advisors really began to explore what those potential options were, came to us because they were very successful in all sorts of outdoor verticals, especially skiing, because they're based in Park City, you know, camping and hiking and trail running and all these other, you know, rock climbing all these other verticals, they were very successful at, but they really struggled in cycling. And they spent a lot of money and spent several years trying to crack the code on it and they just couldn't do it. And so I think they finally they, they became our biggest competitor. And I think it's the classic, you know, build it or buy a conundrum for them and they decided to buy it. And so, as we were beginning to explore how we were going to continue to get the capital we needed to grow the business at the rate we were growing back country came to us. And you know, as the classic story goes, they made us an offer we couldn't refuse, and we sold the company. The thing that's fascinating about it is that at that time back country was owned by Liberty Media, and Liberty Media, for those of you who are fans of American capitalism, who I'm sure most of your podcast listeners are fans of American capitalism. Liberty Media was founded by a guy named John Malone, who's one of the most incredible modern day industrialists and investors, and in all of America, and what was fascinating for me, imagine if you will, here I was knuckleheaded kid, bike racer, liked modernist poetry in Little Rock, Arkansas, you go back to 2001, when we started the business, fast forward to 2011 2012. When we sold the company, I ended up serving on the executive team at, our board meetings were held at Liberty Media, and at those board meetings was John Malone. And it's just like mind blowing this journey that we went on, to be able to spend time and learn from and be very intimidated by people like John Malone. It was an incredible journey, and incredible crash course in business. And yeah, very, very grateful for it.

Matt Waller  11:10  
You know, one thing, there's a lot of interesting things that you said, but one earlier was, you know, you surrounded yourself, good leaders surround themselves with great people, and you knew where your weaknesses were, and you surrounded yourself with people that could really help you. And that, it takes a little bit of humility to do that. You know, because none of us no matter even if you had an undergraduate degree and an MBA, you still wouldn't be able to know everything you need to know about business and doing, growing competitive cyclist and then selling it to back county just, there's so many parts to that. It's pretty complicated. 

Brendan Quirk  11:55  
There's no sdoubt about it, one of my dearest friends, and the greatest business mentor I ever had is a guy named Scott Kerslake, founder of a company called Athleta, which I'm sure you've heard of, it's now the Gap. He was also the CEO of Prana, the yoga, the yoga clothing company, it's very, very successful and had a lot of other business success in his life. He is one of the most incredible, brilliant, amazing human beings I've ever met. And I will tell you that the greatest stroke of luck that I had in my business career was when I was introduced to him. And he was a cyclist. And he just we hit it off. And he took an interest in this project that we have competitive cyclist because I think he saw a lot of himself in a previous point in his life when he was trying to grow Athleta, the interest that he took in me, and mentoring me and really being a cornerstone of our board of advisors changed my life. And I still stay in very close touch with him. And the the importance of mentorship, and you're right humility, and being willing to listen to people who have stood in the shoes that you're in right now to listen to them. And their lessons learned. Because everybody makes mistakes. Everybody wishes they could go back in time and do things a little bit differently, to be able to talk to those people and learn from them. And to get mentorship from them is, if you can figure that out, I absolutely believe pretty much anything is possible. And we were really the I was really the beneficiary of that. And our company was as well.

Matt Waller  13:27  
So you have surrounded yourself with some pretty amazing people. And earlier you mentioned John Malone. He used to be known as the cable cowboy, I believe, is that right? 

Brendan Quirk  13:39  
That's correct. 

Matt Waller  13:41  
And you're right. He he was someone that really I don't know what he's doing now I've but he was someone that really understood your point earlier the power of business to make a huge difference positively for everybody. People think of the robber barons. 

Brendan Quirk  14:07  

Matt Waller  14:09  
And that's really a false term. You know, there's actually a book called the myth of the robber barons. If you really look at what these people did, it's pretty remarkable. And we wouldn't be doing what we're doing today without them. But But yeah, John Malone was clearly so you actually got to spend time with him.

Brendan Quirk  14:30  
I, you know, it's, it's, I would say brief moments of time with I would say there are two figures that I spent a little bit of time with that I remember vividly. One is John Malone. And then one is the CEO of Liberty Media, a gentleman named Greg McBay, who's another you know, titan of American industry, and it was brief the extended time I spent was with their teams, but to get you know, just to talk business with these guys, for even just a couple of minutes. They're so successful. They're such big personalities that makes a big impression on you. And you're just to be part of that, even at arm's length, that Liberty Media ecosystem. And the other companies they owned, for me was a crash course, in was a crash course in e-dcommerce. Because if you go back to that time that I'm talking about 2011 and 2012, the bet that Liberty Media was making and a lot of other companies were making their own similar bets, was what Amazon was trying to do what was trying to do, which is being all things to all people, and winning over, all, having their hands in every American's wallet, through price, through convenience and through selection, that that wasn't necessarily guaranteed to be the winning formula for Amazon back then. And what Liberty's thesis was and why they had acquired back country and why we became part of that country was a belief that specialty retail ultimately would win, expertise, and curated selection, all of those things means more than price, selection and convenience. And I would say now, 10 years later, what the market has determined is actually price, selection and convenience wins. And specialty retail is secondary. And companies like Amazon and their greatest competitor Walmart, they can deliver a specialty retail experience, specialty retail insights through other means. But it was it was fascinating. You go back to 2010 to 2011, Amazon was losing loads of money, they were still struggling to acquire customers. And it was just a fascinating time to see e-commerce at that era when so much change was going on. And for a lot of people now who look at Amazon and just reflexively you know, it's prime buying this buying that or Walmart plus buying this buying that you go back to 2010 2011 it was still the wild wild west of e-commerce and lots of people had lots of ideas about what would win and so to be within arm's length of that was just amazing to witness.

Matt Waller  17:21  
Yes, indeed. So, you went from you were at back country as an executive for several years and then you went to Rapha and became Rapha Racing Limited and became president of Rapha North America. And this is like one of the great cycling apparel brands in the world. How did 

Brendan Quirk  17:48  
the great 

Matt Waller  17:49  
the greatest. How did you how did you make that transition? 

Brendan Quirk  17:55  
So be a competitive cyclist we started selling Rapha back in 2005. And 2005 2006. The first time Rapha was literally ever shown in the United States was a trunk show in New York City. And the founder of the company, a guy named Simon Mottram, he and I had a good friendship. And that trunk show in New York City was a group of people who were friends of Simon because Rapha is based in London. And so it was a group of Simon's friends in New York City. And then Simon asked me to invite some of our best customers from New York City, some of our best competitive cyclists customers to have this trunk show and we did. And it was, it was a real success. And that really started the business relationship. There was a long period where competitive cyclist was selling more Rapha in the United States than Rapha was and we grew and grew and grew as Rapha kind of exploded in growth and as competitive cyclist group was just a great relationship where we both really thrived together and increased our profile as brands in the US cycling market. And I just always had a great relationship with Simon, and go to the time when he and I started, I left back country in 2014, I had a non compete, so I just spent a year goofing off. And which is not as much fun as you would think, by the way, it's but it's a different conversation for for another time, kind of goofed off for a year. And Simon got in touch and said, look, he said, you know, we are kind of an overdrive in terms of growing, we feel like there's a real opportunity over the next three years to really drive value in this business. And then we think, you know, there's probably an opportunity for us to, you know, take some chips off the table. So but one of the great one of the great challenges we currently have in the businesses we want, we believe we are a global brand we want to sell the company eventually when we sell it at is a global brand. But to sell it as a global brand, we need to do more in the US, the US is not our sales aren't strong enough, it's not a big enough percentage of our global business. And if you want to sell, we want to sell this as a global business, we'd have to be just crushing it in the US. So we need somebody to lead that that process of figuring out how we can do more in the US. So that's why I was hired. The I would say the punchline of that story, was that, I think what we thought at the beginning is there will be a lot of US specific initiatives that would drive growth, drive brand awareness drive growth in this market. I think what we learned very quickly was it actually was going to be initiatives that drove the global business that would disproportionately impact the US business. And the mostly, they were technology initiatives having to do with the direct to consumer e-commerce experience in the US. And so that's really what we worked on, we did two things, you know, we really invested in e-commerce experience. And we also rapidly rolled out stores in the US. And we did what we aspire to do, which was we really caused a spike in in, in the US market. And you know started a process to sell the business in 2017. And we did so very successfully with a really strong, strong global business, but really strong US business.

Matt Waller  21:22  
Well, I mean, it's really interesting, too, because you had all this experience with selling bikes, and e-commerce and then you really leveraged your knowledge for something related to cycling, but different very different than bikes at Rapha. And then all that knowledge, of course, led into you becoming the cycling program director for Runway Group. And for those of you listening don't know Runway Group was founded by Steuart and Tom Walton, which are the two of the four children of Jim and Lynn Walton. Jim's the son of Sam Walton, but Tom and Steuart were wanting to drive economic development and quality of life initiatives in in Northwest Arkansas. And they did that through they are doing that through real estate, hospitality, outdoor recreation and many others. But they hired you specifically to cultivate cycling in Northwest Arkansas. Would you mind speaking to that a little bit?

Brendan Quirk  22:37  
I think that first and foremost, Tom and Steuart are incredibly passionate cyclists. I mean, that's what it all comes back to is that they have a love affair with with bike riding as strong as anyone you'll ever meet. And I think that through their passion for cycling. And this goes back to 2006 2007. They looked at Northwest Arkansas, and what they saw was like a blank canvas. You know, they, Steuart had spent a lot of time in California, Tom had spent a lot of time in New Mexico, they had done a lot of mountain biking there, I think they would come back home. And they'd be like, Why don't we have these trails here, what we experience, you know, on the front range, or Flagstaff, you know, the terrain here is just tailor made for trails. There's a lot of undeveloped, you know, beautiful land here where we can put trails. And wouldn't it be amazing to help transform this community if we if we really started to become known for a destination for mountain biking. And so I think it was the work that they're doing more than anything else is based out of their personal passion for the sport and the fact they want to share their passion for the sport with everybody in Arkansas and Missouri and Texas and anybody else who drive to the trails. I think it's by happy circumstance, that it has turned into a real cornerstone of the identity of Northwest Arkansas. And I think that when you talk about the value proposition of why one of your students in business school would want to remain in Northwest Arkansas for work, why is someone that Walmart or Tyson or JB Hunt when they're recruiting people why they would want to move here? I think all of a sudden one of the one of the really compelling reasons why Northwest Arkansas is is that what's now it's just now it's world class mountain biking is genuinely world class mountain biking is the caliber of the trails, it is the quantity of the trails, and it's taken a long time for it to get there. You know, if you think about the first trail was built back in 2007, but where we are now in 2022 is we can take what we have in Northwest Arkansas from a mountain biking infrastructure standpoint, and from a mountain bike culture standpoint, and we can put it up against anybodies in the world. You could put it up against Durango, Crested Butte, Park City, anyplace globally, for that matter. It's it is absolutely transformative what's happened, and it's super improbable. But again, this is what happens when you're just totally tenacious about chasing your passion. And, yeah, it was exciting to be part of it. You know, it's not just mountain bike trail development. You know, clearly they are very invested in cycling companies. When I was at Rapha. It was RZC investments that's owned by Tom and Steuart. They're the ones who ultimately bought Rapha. The Rapha North American headquarters is now based in Bentonville, their investors in Allied, which is this amazing, cycle bike manual carbon fiber bike manufacturing company that's based in Rogers. And they have other investments. They also were devoted to a lot of public policy initiatives to make Arkansas as a state at the maximum level of bike friendliness in terms of, for example, legislation around the legality of e-bikes, and things like this. So it's really their work is really a three legged stool. It's what they do philanthropically to build cycling infrastructure and to support cycling nonprofits. It's what they're doing from a for profit investment standpoint to really drive the startup culture and innovation culture around cycling in Northwest Arkansas. And then lastly, is from a public policy standpoint, on which has really focused on a local level and on a state level to make it so that Arkansas is the most bike friendly state in America. They're really focused on all three of them, that three legged stool.

Matt Waller  26:42  
Well, and you're being very humble, you had a huge role to play in creating the vision for this, and certainly mountain biking is huge. And but, you know, we've got all these paved trails too, we didn't have any when I first moved here, and now you can ride from Fayette South Fayetteville to Bella Vista almost to the Missouri border,

Brendan Quirk  27:06  
You could ride from Kessler, you can ride from Kessler, basically, into Missouri, completely away from traffic. I mean, it's incredible what the experience is of riding the Razorback Greenway. Absolutely.

Matt Waller  27:18  
You know, so and, and also, you know, in fact, as you know, I have a gravel bike, a really nice one from Allied Cycleworks, an Able. And you didn't mention, I don't think that you were actually the interim CEO of Allied Cycleworks for a couple of years. And would you mind telling a little bit about that story?

Brendan Quirk  27:45  
Sure. No, it was, you know, Allied, it's, it's most anything in the sport, sporting goods space, that is carbon composite manufacturing, almost all of that, regardless of the sport. It's golf club shafts, tennis rackets, skis, bicycle frames, by and large, all of that is going to be Asian manufacturing, which the reason for Asian manufacturing is obviously to keep costs low. I think there is a you know, there's always a flip side to keeping costs low. And what you are seeing, at least in the outdoor industry now is a movement towards onshoring, where the sophisticated manufacturing is now coming back to the US. A lot of reasons for that costs are getting higher in Asia, Asia, geopolitical pressure, but I also think there is a quality control. And when you really look at the lifecycle of manufacturing, there's both quality control, but also how quickly can you innovate? How quickly can you troubleshoot? It's difficult when a lot of the decision makers are in North America, but the manufacturing is going on in Asia. So I think there's a lot of time efficiency when you can, time efficiency and and real cost efficiency and innovation acceleration when you onshore production. Allied is one of the first companies that wanted to test this thesis of what happens when everything is under one roof? What happens to the quality of the product? What happens the pace of innovation? Can you be competitive on price when you manufacture in the US? So like a lot of startups that had a little bit of a rocky road, when they went to raise some money they came to RZC, they came to Tom and Steuart they said would you be willing to to invest? They were really eager and excited. But they wanted to you know, they just they really wanted to make sure that they had a very short connection between where they sat and what was going on in the company. And so they asked me if I would do an interim spell as CEO to ensure that their investment was, you know, being stewarded in the best way possible. And so I was glad to do that. I was interesting for me it was my first experience at a manufacturer environment. I will tell you especially for your students out there, who are business students who are unsure of the direction that they want to go in business, manufacturing is something where you need to I feel certain you have to have a passion for manufacturing, you have to be that guy who likes to take apart the the radio or the toaster or whatever, and then put it back together. But manufacturing is something where you have to have a native curiosity for it. Or else I think it's it's it is it's too hard manufacturing is so hard. But if you have business students who are like man, I either want to go to business school or I wanted to be an engineer. Those are the kinds of people that the manufacturing environment is an amazing environment to be in. And that was a real lesson for me.

Matt Waller  30:43  
So your, your experience with selling bikes, selling cycling apparel, you know, manufacturing bikes, promoting cultivating entrepreneurship and business activity around cycling. You have a very broad experience and now your Chief Executive Officer of USA Cycling, what is USA Cycling?

Brendan Quirk  31:10  
USA Cycling is the national governing body of the sport of bike racing in the United States. So we're like what the national governing bodies are. We've all heard of like the US Olympic Committee, which is now known as the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee. What it does is every sport in the Olympic program has a national governing body. So the US US Golf Association is the national governing body of the sport of golf. The US Tennis Association, for example, is a national governing body. We've all heard of USA Track and Field, USA Swimming, USA Cycling is that you know, we are a nonprofit. And our mission is twofold. We are responsible for growing the sport of bike racing on a grassroots level all across America, while at the same time striving for sustained international success with our national team, and sustained international success. That means the Olympic Games, we're responsible for maximizing the Olympic medal count for cycling every year or every four years in the Olympics. We are responsible for delivering performances in the World Championships across all cycling disciplines. And so on the one hand, our role is to introduce newcomers to the sport of bike racing. But on the other hand, our goal is to identify promising talent, develop that promising talent and then support Olympic medal capable athletes to achieve that international success. So I have such a deep passion for bike racing, that for me, it's I really nerd out on this and I get very excited about it. We host about 20 National Championships every year, and we participate in World Cups and World Championships all across the globe.

Matt Waller  32:53  
We have something coming up later, in the middle of October, October 16 called the UCI Cyclocross World Cup. Would you mind telling sharing a little bit about that?

Brendan Quirk  33:09  
Yes, cyclocross is it used to be this kind of niche, wintertime sport, which is sort of you can think of it's like a combination of kind of gravel riding and cross country running is what it's basically the easiest way to describe it. And what has happened over time is what started as a niche sport that was really popular in Belgium and the Netherlands has turned into this cult global phenom wintertime phenomenon for cycling. And it's an amazing sport. What's amazing about it is the races are short, you know, the races are about 45 minutes to an hour long. You're doing laps, so it's very friendly for spectators. It's very friendly for television. Historically, it was the first cycling discipline where gender equity really came to life. In other words, where the fan base was equally passionate for the women's races as it was for the men's races. And it's such an exciting discipline that when we had the opportunity to host the World Championship there in Fayetteville, we jumped on the opportunity and it was a smash hit, how well it went. If you have the opportunity to go out to the World Cup race, you'll get a real flavor of what it's like. On top of that, you get to to get to visit Centennial Park there in Fayetteville. It is one of the foremost cycling facilities in all of North America in terms of the caliber of the trails, the caliber of the built infrastructure there. It is beautiful for cyclocross, it's beautiful for mountain biking, but it's frankly it's also beautiful if you go up on a you know, Saturday morning with your dog and just go take your dog for the walk. You get some beautiful views from up there. Seeing all of Fayetteville looking south towards the mountains. It's just gorgeous. 

It is beautiful. I was amazed at the amount of stonework, 


Matt Waller  35:02  
And just, it really is quite amazing. I think if you're listening this and you haven't been to Centennial Park, it's worth going just to behold, like you say go for a walk, but the cyclocross championship is so amazing. I had never seen it before. One of the things that I really thought was interesting about it, Brendan, is that there were literally people from all over the world, I met a bunch of people from the Netherlands and Denmark and France, and just, you know, all over the world, it was surprising that they all came here for this. And they were here for several days, because you'd see them in restaurants and out and about what a great event. It was. I'm looking forward to the next one that's coming up in a couple of weeks. 

Brendan Quirk  35:57  
We're excited to have it. 

Matt Waller  35:59  
Well, Brendan, thank you so much for taking time to share with us you have a very unique experience in cycling, you probably are more knowledgeable about cycling than anyone in the world. And so I appreciate you taking time to visit with me today.

Brendan Quirk  36:20  
My pleasure. Well, it's good to see it, go hogs.

Matt Waller  36:24  
On behalf of the Sam M. Walton College of Business, I want to thank everyone for spending time with us for another engaging conversation. You can subscribe by going to your favorite podcast service and searching be epic, B E E P IC

Matt WallerMatthew A. Waller is the dean of the Sam M. Walton College of Business, Sam M. Walton Leadership Chair and professor of supply chain management. He is also the host for the Be EPIC Podcast for Walton College.


Walton College's EPIC values -- Excellence, Professionalism, Innovation and Collegiality -- are the heart of Dean Waller’s podcast. Since the beginning of the series, Waller has interviewed business professionals, industry experts, CEOs and Walton College students to bring listeners first-hand accounts directly from the entrepreneurial world.


Waller is an SEC Academic Leadership Fellow and coauthor of “The Definitive Guide to Inventory Management: Principles and Strategies for the Efficient Flow of Inventory across the Supply Chain,” published by Pearson Education. He is the former co-editor-in-chief of Journal of Business Logistics. His opinion pieces have appeared in Wall Street Journal Asia and Financial Times.


Waller received an M.S. and Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University and a B.S.B.A., summa cum laude, from the University of Missouri.

Walton College

Walton College of Business

Since its founding at the University of Arkansas in 1926, the Sam M. Walton College of Business has grown to become the state's premier college of business – as well as a nationally competitive business school. Learn more...

Be Epic Podcast

We're sitting down with innovators and business mavericks to discuss strategy, leadership and entrepreneurship. The Be EPIC Podcast is hosted by Matthew Waller, dean of the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas. Learn more...

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