S&S Cycle president to step down December 1st

By STEVE CAHALAN | LaCross Tribune

Brett Smith is stepping down as president of S&S Cycle Inc. in La Crosse and Viola, effective Dec. 1, the company said Friday.

Smith, who has been president of the family-owned business since October 2003, said in an interview he voluntarily is stepping down for personal reasons.
“It’s been a very fun time, but it was time for me to take a break,” Smith said, adding he has been “moving 100 mph the entire time.”

Smith said his father, company Chairman George B. Smith, has been named interim CEO during the transition. “We’ll be searching for a full-time replacement for me,” he said. S&S Cycle traditionally hasn’t had a CEO.

The company was founded in 1958 in Blue Island, Ill., by Brett Smith’s grandfather, George J. Smith, and a friend. Today, it’s owned by the second and third generations of the Smith family.

S&S Cycle makes high-performance engine parts and engines for motorcycles. In August, Smith confirmed that 60 workers had been cut that month through voluntary separation and layoffs. He blamed the economic slump for a downturn in sales.

After the August job cuts, the company has about 195 employees combined at its La Crosse and Viola facilities.

“I’ve been thinking about doing something different for over a year,” Smith said Friday.

The company’s press release quoted Smith as saying, “I am confident the measures we’ve taken over the past several years with respect to new products like the X-Wedge, our dealer development efforts, rapid international sales growth and a clear focus on emissions-related efforts have set a solid foundation on which to build over the next decade. I’m looking forward to watching things develop as a shareholder and seeking new opportunities for my family and me.”

“I am proud of the job my son has done for S&S and my parents would be proud as well,” George B. Smith said in the press release. “He has put together a great team and done a lot over the past several years, and I will miss having him at S&S.”

Smith said he respects his son’s request to move on.

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