STARTING THE “CUSTOM JERSEY” TOUR
It is Friday, April 14th, and I am here to welcome the seven members of the Smugglers team to our company. They traveled in a van from Belgium to Italy all day Thursday just to spend a few days with us. I will only be with them on Friday morning and for lunch. They want to ride, but I am not a cyclist yet. So, for the rest of the days, I will hand them over to some of my colleagues who will ride with them on the exciting gravel paths of our Veneto area. Despite the short time we will share, I want to give them an unforgettable experience. So, as planned, the day begins with what I call the "custom jersey" tour, which is a tour where I guide them through the stages of making their own custom jersey. They came here for this too: to see the creation of their jersey and then wear it for some outdoor photos and videos. From my point of view, I have to admit that I really like the graphics and colors, and I would gladly wear it too, if I were a cyclist.
To start the "custom jersey" tour, we enter the custom team's office, where our designers show how the jersey is designed using graphic programs. Tjorven starts taking photos and videos. It's only the first step of the tour, but they are already very enthusiastic. We move to the plotter printing office.
THEY LOOK LIKE CHILDREN PLAYING WITH THEIR FAVORITE TOY!
We leave the printing room taking with us all the parts to be assembled. Another colleague of mine is waiting for us to sew everything together. It is the last step of the tour and I see the guys a bit dejected. They ask me, "Is it already over?" They had so much fun that they would like to do it again right away. It's been almost an hour and a half, yet it seems like only 5 minutes have passed.
After sewing, the jersey is completed. They take some photos together with their amazing jersey. I invite them to have a coffee, they accept more than willingly. Then I suggest taking some photos in the product office with the mannequin wearing the jersey. It is noon and it is time to accompany them to the store, where we will have lunch together. But before lunch, we take a tour of the store so they can make some small purchases. They ask me if it is possible to put the jersey on one of the mannequins to take some photos there too. Kindly, the saleswoman Silvia allows us this opportunity and replaces the kit, including the shorts, on the mannequin. After taking photos and making purchases, we move to the store's bar to eat.
It was a real pleasure for me to have met them, to have shared the entire morning with them and to have taken them around the company. They are wonderful people whom I hope to see again soon for a new tour together, perhaps by bike next time.
Saturday Gravel Ride
After a short lunch break the boys returned to Bassano following a trail prepared by Steve for the ride.
The day ended with a beer (actually more than one) in a pub in Bassano.
what the smugglers had to say about their visit
ERWIN: During our trip to Castelli headquarters it became clear to me why it is such a good match between us. We both want to give our customers or participants the best possible experience, by providing a product that is more than worth its money the price becomes secondary. We try to add something extra to our events or clothing piece every time. Not to do ourselves better than the rest but to deliver the best version of ourselves and our products.
LUC: The trip was short but a great experience. Because of the rain and snow at the Brenner Pass, we were discouraged in the first place. When we arrived in Feltre, our spirits changed and our spirits began to lift after a 13-hour trip. The next day we received a warm welcome at the Castelli headquarters. During the tour we fell from one surprise to another ... the enthusiasm of the employees, how labor-intensive the production is, etc. This also showed why quality has its price. The combination of Flagship Store and lunch was top-notch. The podcast was fun and got its own story, the infamous button, and a second recording. Then the photo shoot with the golden hour was a wonderful experience to dust over the gravel roads as the Chauffeur of the photographer. The gravel ride with Steve from Bassano del Grappa, a beautiful town, was a great experience, with beautiful scenery and a very varied course. For me, the trip as a driver with the Smugglers gang was something I wouldn't have wanted to miss. It was a short but great experience thanks to Smugglers and Castelli (both Italy and Benelux).
GROUP ANSWER: We were received so friendly and warm as if we knew each other for a longer time. The custom tour was great, to see it all behind the scenes. Also to visit the Flagship Store felt like we were kids in a candy store. We will rarely wear something else than Castelli from now on. The group ride with Steve and Giovanni was top-notch. An experience nobody will ever forget, the first week after our trip was so hard to focus back on working. It felt like an awesome short holiday. The only negative thing we experienced was that it was way too short haha ;) A couple of us are aiming to ride the 2025 Veneto Gravel.
Images: Tjorven Vermeiren and Giovanni Lira