A scuba diving and bicycle equipment wholesaler, Global Adventures LLC, is the eighth German firm and the 27th international company to establish operations in Forsyth County.

Global Adventures is a wholesale distribution center for diving and biking equipment for dealers on the East and West U.S. coasts. It is looking to expand its sales team in various regions throughout the United States.

“We looked for three years for potential locations for the company, in Europe, Canada and the East Coast U.S. Georgia and Forsyth County in particular presented a good mix of price and accessibility,” said the company’s owner, Bernd Laeschke.

He noted that Georgia’s transportation network, including Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and the state’s seaports, was important because Global Adventures imports its products from China, Taiwan and Europe. Most products arrive by ship into Savannah or Charleston, but some spare parts are shipped by air freight, he said.

The company considered Raleigh/Durham, N.C., Fairfax County in northern Virginia and northern Florida as potential locations.

Atlanta has the largest ski club in the country, so the North Georgia area is generally interested in outdoor sports. But because Global Adventures is not a retail outfit, it needed a central location like Atlanta from which it can distribute throughout the U.S., Mr. Laeschke said.

In 10 years or so, the company might consider purchasing some retail diving or cycling stores and possibly franchise the concept, he added.

But while cycling has had a long tradition in Europe, it is just becoming more popular here. The mountain bike was invented in United States, but there are more street bike manufacturers in Europe that Global Adventures can help access the U.S. market, Mr. Laeschke said.

Recreational scuba diving is popular in Europe, but technical cave diving and deep wreck diving is more advanced in the U.S., so Global Adventures may have opportunities to help technical manufacturers in the U.S. to get access to the European market, he added.

Mr. Laeschke said the reason he chose to focus on scuba diving and cycling is because neither is a very mature industry in the U.S. Most of the businesses are family-owned and operated, and mergers and acquisitions in the industry started only 10 years ago, so owners do not have expertise in marketing or information technology. Many of them do not have point-of-sales systems nor know the shelf-life of some of their products, he said.

Also, the two activities, though both outdoor sports, do not compete. “If someone is interested in bicycling, it means he is interested in outdoor activities, so there is a potential for crossover to scuba diving,” Mr. Laeschke said.

His biggest challenge, he said, is finding motivated sales people to cover “vital” regions of the U.S., including western and central states like Colorado, Montana , Oregon, Texas and Utah where biking, especially, is popular.

He said he is looking to hire six or eight additional sales people by the end of the year who are interested in the outdoors, are motivated and have good knowledge of bicycle and scuba equipment.

Global Adventures placed advertisements for sales jobs with Kennesaw State University because it is one of the few universities in the region that has a major in sales. But the company has received only one application in three or four months, Mr. Laeschke said.

So, he is beginning to advertise in online job placement sites like www.monster.com, as well as U.S. military placement centers that help retiring military personnel find work.

Mr. Laeschke was born in Germany and previously worked in Toronto for a subsidiary of a German advertising and marketing firm. He incorporated Global Adventures LLC because of his interest in cave diving.

Global Adventures is one of eight German companies in Forsyth County that comprise the county’s largest international contingent. Forsyth County is located some 30 miles north of Atlanta on the west side of Lake Lanier.

Story Contacts, Links and Related Stories
Global Adventures – Bernd Laeschke (678) 947-1262, ext. 302

Cumming/Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce –
Kris Carroll (770) 887-6461