Steve Flagg, founder of Quality Bicycle Products (QBP), was honored with the University of Minnesota's Entrepreneur of the Year award at the Minnesota Cup Competition Final Awards Reception held at the McNamara Alumni Center on September 13. The ceremony featured remarks from President Robert Bruininks and also announced the winners of the 2010 Minnesota Cup, a competition that encourages entrepreneurial spirit and highlights the position of the University of Minnesota as a hub for innovation.
"In Quality Bicycle Products, Steve Flagg has built a remarkable company and an incredible culture," said John Stavig, professional director of the Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship at the Carlson School of Management, who presented the award to Flagg. "The University is proud to recognize Steve as an entrepreneurial role model who pursued his passion, instilled his personal values into the organization, set the standard for social responsibility, and created opportunities for his employees that have benefitted our entire community."
"Steve Flagg has played a major role in making Minneapolis America's best bike city and QBP has been the catalyst for the state's thriving cycling-related economy."
The Entrepreneur of the Year award recognizes University alumni who founded, and are currently leading, remarkable businesses while serving as exemplary role models for the next generation of entrepreneurs. Past honorees include Joel Ronning (Digital River), Tim and Valerie Doherty (Doherty Employment Group), Robert Stephens (Geek Squad), and Gary Holmes (CSM Corporation).
A 1974 graduate of the University with a degree in economics, Flagg started QBP in 1981 with his wife, Mary Henrickson. The company, which began in a small office supplying bike shops with hard-to-find items from Japan, has since grown to become the industry's largest parts and accessories distributor, supplying more than 30,000 stock-keeping units to more than 5,000 dealers worldwide. In addition to selling other manufacturers' products, QBP operates several proprietary brands including Salsa, Surly, and Civia.
Along with its phenomenal business growth, QBP has been raised the bar for corporate stewardship. The company believes it's good business to make the world a better place and does so through efforts in advocacy, community service, and environmental stewardship. This includes donating six percent of after-tax profits to related causes.
On the environmental scene, QBP has been a pioneer in sustainable business practices. Its 135,000-square-foot-distribution center houses one of the largest solar installations in the Midwest and was awarded a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold rating. Later this year the company will open a similar environmentally-friendly facility in Ogden, Utah.
Flagg also promotes a unique culture of engagement and shared learning at QBP where the vast majority of employees are biking enthusiasts, many of whom started in the warehouse before advancing to new roles. Flagg is a frequent speaker in entrepreneurship classes at the Carlson School and personally hosts student tours of his unique company.