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Defining The Journey

Scott Penzarella is a competitive cyclist who channeled his passion for riding to create Studio Velo, a premier cycling retailer in California.

What inspired you to start Studio Velo?

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I worked for cycling retailer Suraventura in southern Spain during grad school from 2001 to 2003. Upon my return, I saw a need to improve the customer-service experience at the local IBD (Independent Bicycle Dealer). In addition, I wanted to offer bicycle fitting and a professional service department–things that were missing at many local stores here in the Bay Area.

How do you apply your passion for cycling to Studio Velo?

Studio Velo’s credo is Passion – Precision – Performance. We thrive on the idea that the bike is an extension of your body and without passion for your work, work is not worth doing. The culture at Studio Velo is grounded in this passion and conveyed in all aspects of the business, from the way we talk about our sport, to the miles we cover collectively each week with staff and clients.

When and why did you decide to make Studio Velo mobile?

Studio Velo actually started as a mobile bike service, conducting bicycling fittings and performing professional bicycle repair “on the road.” I built a strong customer following this way and genuinely think about our mobile service roots often, how it impacted both the business and the customer experience. In the past four years, we returned to our roots by launching SV:Travel, the travel and corporate events division. Through the purchase of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van, Studio Velo has been able to provide on-the-road experiences to existing and new customers, locally and throughout California.

Why did Studio Velo choose a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter?

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The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter improves the Studio Velo-client experience in more ways than one. During both single-day and multi-day cycling tours, our clients expect professional, comfortable, and premium brand experiences–aspects of our business that were top of mind when we chose a Mercedes-Benz vehicle. Like product extensions, the Studio Velo Sprinter van provides a comfortable and recognizable environment. To put our highly discerning clients in anything other than a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter would rob them of the premium brand experience on which Studio Velo has built its reputation.

Tell us about how you customized your Sprinter van, and what considerations went into your upfit.

It may be the chef’s kitchen that the Studio Velo Sprinter shows off its true versatility and uniqueness. Chef Chris Dressick, GM at Studio Velo’s café, The Station SF, creates culinary wonders right from the back of the van, preparing cappuccinos, fresh panini, and authentic pastas that are fresh and hot when hungry cyclists arrive. We built custom cabinetry, a power supply, and foldout tables to create the perfect on-the-road mobile kitchen for our chef.

What is your favorite feature of your Sprinter?

Performance and comfort in an attractive package are by far our favorite Sprinter attributes. The powerful engine makes towing the Studio Velo trailer and bikes along with ample supplies (including many water containers and food), the ideal performance vehicle. Meanwhile, a separate AC and heating unit, lots of legroom, and large tinted windows make the drive to a destination as memorable as the cycling and as comfortable as some professional cycling vehicles.

What places or events have you traveled to with the Studio Velo Sprinter?

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The Studio Velo Sprinter rolls through most of the expansive state of California and beyond. From the northern reaches of California, where we host a three-day cycling trip down the remote and spectacular region of the Lost Coast, to the classic San Francisco to Santa Barbara coast ride, the Studio Velo sprinter van has few borders. One of our favorite trips, and one that puts the Sprinter through the most rigorous test, is the twice-annual drive to the Eastern Sierras of California. Think Death Valley, Whitney Portal, and White Mountain Road. We travel from the highest paved roads in California to the lowest point in the U.S.

What services does the Studio Velo Sprinter offer customers?

The San Francisco Bay Area, like many other professional and technological hot spots, has displaced golf for cycling as the social sport of choice. It’s almost passé to say “cycling is the new golf.” Yet the advent of cycling “retreats,” customer appreciation events, along with other private cycling trips, has opened a new chapter in Studio Velo’s travel division. And it’s only with the well-branded, well-equipped Sprinter van that we are able to offer this new service.

Tell us what a day in the life of driving the Studio Velo Sprinter van is like.

Driving the Studio Velo Sprinter van is almost too easy. It is truly a remarkably designed vehicle, considering it carries 12 total passengers and lots and lots of cargo. Its Mercedes-Benz reliability and handling make for a great day of driving.

How has your Sprinter helped grow your business?

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The purchase of the Sprinter van has actually grown SV: Travel’s business and Studio Velo’s business overall. To host cycling adventures/experiences outside of the shop has deepened our relationship with our clients. This, in turn, allows Studio Velo to drive business vertically. Each and every time we interact with our clients, inside and outside our store, we strengthen the tie to the most important part of our business, our clients. In a competitive environment like retail cycling, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van lets SV: Travel take our business places the competition can’t.

If you could give advice to other growing businesses about going mobile, what would it be?

Starting small is probably the key to success. Invest smartly. Buy quality. And think about every investment as a growth opportunity. The purchase of the Studio Velo Mercedes-Benz Sprinter was one of the best purchases we have ever made. I highly recommend other growing businesses, where appropriate, to make a similar choice and to remember that any business, small and large, must make good decisions from beginning to end.

Studio Velo is the Bay Area’s Premier Cycling Retailer located in Mill Valley, CA.

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