Entrepreneurial cyclists crank
business success from bike repair
By Catherine Harper
Like a marathon, the journey to success is hard-going but eventually pays off. Andy Howard and Alex Lincoln — alumni of Texas State and owners of The Hub, located on the Square in San Marcos — are taking their determination and small business knowledge to the finish line as a team.
“From the beginning, I said even if this fails, I will learn more from doing this than anything,” Howard says of opening The Hub in February 2008.
Howard and Lincoln got their start as entrepreneurs at a young age. From their first days at Texas State to their graduation — Lincoln graduated in 2007 with a degree in economics and Howard in 2009 with a degree in geography and environmental science — the two shared a common interest in cycling and a dream of one day opening their own business.
During their time at Texas State, Howard and Lincoln both rode with the Cycling Team, an activity that exercised their strength as a team and expanded their knowledge of the inner-workings of bicycles. It also inspired them to devote more energy to their interest, taking on bike repair projects in San Marcos.
From what they remember as the “the rough-and-tumble early days” of their business, Lincoln and Howard’s first backyard bike repair projects encountered obstacles from leaky workspaces to equipment shortages. Despite the hardship, the pair persevered with drive and determination through what Lincoln calls the “school of hard knocks.”
“We both had a lot of business experience and knew what was important in taking care of customers. But as well as we thought we were prepared, it was a trial by fire,” Lincoln says.
In 2006, Howard and Lincoln opened a bike repair garage on N. LBJ Dr. near campus. Their work at the garage helped them gain recognition from students within the Texas State bike culture, which worked to expand their business by word-of-mouth throughout the community.
Howard and Lincoln opened The Hub in February 2008, in a building originally constructed in 1906 as a printing shop. To Howard and Lincoln, the Square’s central location provided the ideal opportunity to expand their business from their student base to the entire community of San Marcos.
“The Square itself has its own community. We saw it as the focal point of town, which is why we called our shop The Hub,” Howard says.
Both Howard and Lincoln do a bit of everything in the shop, including selling new and used bikes, performing repairs, customizing and filling special orders.
“We can do pretty much anything,” Lincoln says. “Work around the shop is always different every day and constantly evolving.”
In 2009, the pair also started a 501c(3) nonprofit called The Hub Racing, which comprises the shop’s in-house cycling team and trail maintenance crew. Volunteers work on hike-and-bike trails around Purgatory Creek Park and Prospect Park in San Marcos.
For aspiring entrepreneurs, Howard and Lincoln advise opening a business as early as possible to work out the “kinks,” and never giving up.
“It’s a very serious commitment. Don’t kid yourself. Don’t expect huge benefits from the beginning,” says Lincoln. “To be successful, you need to give it your all — everything.”
Although Lincoln and Howard are at the last leg of their marathon to the top, their self-made success story is sure to continue.