Trees don't grow to the Sky

Trees don’t grow to the Sky is a one liner and my mantra that I repeated to the Rush Sports Management Team of Andre, Sam, and Phillip during the Covid era cycling industry boom.

I have had several messages and comments from readers of my article on the 2024 Taipei Bike Show asking whether my statement that Rush Sports has zero Covid era stock overhang is in fact, true. Even our supply chain vendors and assemblers found it quite interesting that Rush Sports is clean of the excess inventory currently afflicting the cycling industry. I am writing this article because of these messages, comments, and reactions.

So, what does Trees don’t grow to the Sky mean and why was it and still is one of my mantras?

The thing about age is that in life you go through cycles whether that is in business, fitness or in your relationships with people. Most people who know my business history, know that for around 7 years from 2001 – 2007 we dominated road cycling equipment sales in South Africa with the Raleigh Microsoft range of product, but with the establishment of the Cape Epic in 2004 cycling industry sales started shifting to mountain bike equipment sales until road cycling equipment sales in South Africa fell off a cliff. This was an extremely bitter experience for me to see such a huge chunk of turnover not only stop growing, but completely fall off a cliff. The caveat to this is that we did change our focus to a new brand in 2008 and then started dominating mountain bike equipment sales in South Africa too. By 2011, 29er full suspension full carbon fibre mountain bikes became the innovation in the industry and again we had one of the only two brands in the World that could supply the market with this technology. Again, we experienced massive growth till 2013 when competitors were able to offer the technology and again a bitter experience ensued as turnover declined.

The boom-and-bust sales cycles of the Raleigh Microsoft road cycling equipment and the 29er full carbon full suspension bikes gave birth to my mantra: Trees don’t grow to the Sky. Simply put, it means good times don’t go on forever.

The mantra became a big focus point that I repeated ad nauseam from around June 2000 to June 2022 when demand in the cycling industry ripped higher after the hard lock downs around the World and turnover was rocketing 300% higher year over year. As a collective team, Rush Sports decided to limit the growth of the business based on the bitter experiences that I recited from 2000 – 2007 and from 2011 – 2013. The management team started believing that Trees don’t grow to the Sky and Rush Sports decided that we did not want to participate in the Covid era hangover that was bound to ensue.

In October 2023, Rush Sports hosted 2 events for 100 of our Customers in the middle of our warehouse in Johannesburg to let them see for themselves that our business was clean from stock overhang. Trees don’t grow to the Sky paid handsome dividends for the business as it could sit out the competition in the industry for who could offer the biggest discounts! The title of biggest discounter in the industry was a competition that Rush Sports was happy to give a miss. Of course, in the short term that means giving up market share to the biggest discounters. But we are happy to sit out the hangover and the destructive discounting cycle that did in fact ensue and was predicted by Trees don’t grow to the Sky.

Step by Step!


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