To kickoff 2022, we sat down with CIE member Leury Kerpen, CSR & Talent Manager at Thun. As an active member of CIE-CONEBI's CSR & Sustainability Expert Group, we wanted to hear and share his thoughts of the future, challenges and inspirations in the cycling industry.
1. Can you give us a brief description of Thun?
Thun is a family-owned bike parts manufacturer in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany that’s been in business for over 100 years. We create high-quality bb-sets, as well as high-quality bb-sensors, mainly for affordable bicycles and e-bikes in the entry-level to medium price segment.
2. What are you most excited about for 2022?
First, I’m very excited that, at least internally within the company, we’re making a lot of progress with our strategic CSR vision. We've been at it for a year and a half now and we're finally starting to get the proper processes and projects in place, whereas a finalized public strategy and KPIs are also underway. For this year specifically, I think the biggest things that we're working on are our talent management (which falls under CSR and sustainability), emissions, and we also have only very recently kicked-off a circular economy project where we're going to try to see if and how we can adjust our business model, either as a whole or for specific products, to make it more circular. We’re also making headway in the topic of cycling and CSR advocacy through the different working groups that we are part of, including the CIE-CONEBI CSR Expert Group.
Particularly, I am happy about our involvement namely in the CSR Strategy Priority Group, as well as the CO2 Footprint & LCA Priority Group. I am very excited to be able to contribute to a project that scales across the whole European bicycle industry, and I really think that together as a team we can create something amazing!
3. What do you see as a major challenge in the cycling industry and how can CIE play a role in overcoming that challenge?
From a CSR related perspective only, there are many challenges. The first would be the role of information and resources, which is what I'm pushing for in our CSR Expert Group. I feel that CSR managers, and those that are responsible for sustainability in the bike industry, don't necessarily have the time or resources to come up with a waterproof CSR strategy or emissions strategy without some guidance. I think there’s a lot of potential for groups like CIE to provide these resources and perhaps some guidance to its members, whether it’s a full-blown guideline or at least referring them to available recourses. Say you as a company want to get started with CSR or a CO2 footprint. The role for CIE here would be to provide some recommended resources and then pairing that with some kind of program. For example, People For Bikes are doing a similar program to check in on the progress of small groups of companies, so I think that also there's a lot of potential for that when it comes to CIE.
The second challenge is the definition of actionable points – something like a challenge or targets. Giving people the information to get started: I think that’s one part of the puzzle, but the other part is to also give them something to work towards and to challenge them so that we as an industry aren't just learning, but so that we’re also moving forward with our CSR and emissions goals and expectations.
The third one is the process of tying it all together – it’d be creating transparency and making sure that we are creating a culture of collaboration within these topics, because, at the moment, there are a lot of companies that are tackling CSR initiatives on their own for the very first time. There are a lot of efficiencies that can be created if the whole supply chain is involved, or if at least companies of the same size, or that have a shared supply chain, are using the same tools, language and can maybe even share some of this information across each other. So that's also something that needs to be overcome and coordinated soon.
4. What or who in the cycling industry inspires you?
I would say really all the members of the various working groups that I'm a part of. They're all CSR and sustainability focused, just like me, and there are those working more specifically towards the reduction of emissions and such, while there are others who are talking a bit more broadly about what we should be doing to push CSR topics further in terms of legislation and infrastructure, and then also about how we can adjust the culture accordingly. Within these expert groups we have a lot of different, very future-minded individuals, which just makes it very apparent that this is a great industry to be in with a lot of potential and it's really great to be part of something that is growing and moving in a great direction – so, that's kind of what inspires me!
5. Describe in 5 words how cycling is saving the world.
We challenged Leury to tell us how cycling is saving the world - in only five words: