Editors Note: This story was originally published in issue 211. If you would like to receive all of the awesomeness of an issue of Dirt Rag Magazine at your front door Subscribe Here!
Clint Spiegel feels most at home amongst the whirling jets of CNC machines and the hum of lathes shaping aluminum. A self-described workaholic, Spiegel has spent virtually his entire life in the factory buildings that are now home to Industry Nine.
The space originally housed a general-parts-manufacturing business started by his father; Spiegel was literally born into the job. As we toured the facility where everything from the practical to the ambitious was contracted and created, Spiegel half-joking said, “I took my first steps in here,” explaining how his mother was his father’s first employee and that the family would spend most of their time together at work. Whether or not his first steps were actually made inside the factory walls, it’s certain that Spiegel was taking steps toward his inevitable career path.
As a young child, Spiegel would help out around the workshop by sorting parts and orders with his mother. By the time he was a teenager, he had begun programming and running the machines that were manufacturing parts. When most college-aged kids were hanging around campus on the weekends to spend time with friends and party, Spiegel was driving home to help out with the family business, honing his craft for the future.
Not yet a cyclist, Spiegel got his first taste of manufacturing bicycle components in 1991, when RockShox was looking for a facility to make parts for their suspension forks. Spiegel’s business was producing three-quarters of the parts needed for those early designs. Eventually, the partnership that made up the initial version of RockShox split up and moved on, taking their manufacturing elsewhere. A company new to the area and to the world of bicycles, Cane Creek, bought what remained of the Japanese-owned Dia-Compe business that stayed in Asheville, North Carolina. Cane Creek approached Spiegel about designing them a hub, but his initial efforts were not light or durable enough, so Spiegel scrapped the idea until years later.
It wasn’t until his mid-30s that Spiegel took to bikes. After decades of 80-hour workweeks and late-night pizza dinners, he needed a healthy release from the job, and bikes seemed the most logical and fun choice. Spiegel is always improving and creating products, so of course, it didn’t take long before he was inventing ways to better the parts on his bike. Spiegel already owned the perfect machinery for the creation of hubs; thus, Industry Nine was born and introduced to the world during the 2005 Interbike expo. Spiegel admits that it was the flashy anodized colors that caught the public’s attention, but it’s the performance of the meticulously designed hubs that’s led to the company’s success.
Industry Nine is named for Spiegel’s ninth business entity, and one can’t help but wonder if there will be a 10th. “I’ve learned my lesson,” Spiegel chuckled. While he still takes on some manufacturing contracts, all focus for the future has been reserved for Industry Nine. From automation programming to robotics and everything in between, it seems fitting that the bike saved not only Spiegel from the trappings of an unhealthy lifestyle but also his business at large.
Spiegel and Industry Nine continue to build and better their existing products. Recently they introduced their Hydra hub, improving engagement and reducing the drag of previous models. Small components like the new A35 stem have joined the product line. When asked if there is anything new and exciting coming soon, Spiegel responded, “We have a bunch of creative people with overactive brains and access to a machine shop, so …” I’m sure he’s as excited as the rest of us to find out what they’ll come out with next.
If you miss our footage from our visit to Industry Nine you can catch it here.