When Michael Müllmann opened the BMX store ‘California Sports’ in Berlin in 1980, he would not have guessed, even with a lot of imagination, that it would turn into a European wholesale business for the bike industry. At that time, BMX was a trend that had just arrived in Europe from the USA, and there were hardly any sources of supply for the bikes. So it almost sounds like a movie plot that Michael Müllmann decided to fly to the United States and returned from there with the import rights for GT. The foundation was laid for Sport Import GmbH, which was founded in 1982.
“I wanted the kids to do the right thing,” Michael Müllmann recalls today, “and not make the wrong choices for themselves and their free time.” So it fits that Michael was a go-to person and supporter for his clientele from the very beginning. He supported the construction of the first BMX track in Berlin, accompanied his riders to numerous competitions. But it does not stop at the distribution of BMX brands, even if the roots have never been lost: Mountain bikes are the next trend that customers asked for, and so the range of Sport Import gradually expands.
In 1987, the company moved from Berlin back to his home in Lower Saxony. Today, the distributor is still located in Edewecht and counts 80 employees. In addition to well-known BMX and MTB brands, Sport Import’s portfolio also includes premium brands from the segments of road, gravel and urban cycling: in total, there are more than 35 of them. For the family-owned company, the last few years were primarily characterized by Europeanization. Gradually, the structures of the company were reorganized, the team was enlarged with vision and, above all, new markets were accessed. Today, the sales team is already on the road in eleven European countries and deliveries are made to the whole of Europe.
“We see ourselves as a comprehensive service provider for dealers. Sport Import is deliberately broadly positioned so that we can support our customers in all aspects of successful brand sales,” explains Alexander Müllmann, who joined the company in 2016 and has been the owner of Sport Import GmbH since 2020. Ralf Fischer, as the third managing director, also plays a key role in shaping the path of digitalization. Among other things, he leads the in-house IT department, which develops all order tools such as the B2B webshop, the pre-order tool, and the company’s own warehouse system. For customers, working with Sport Import should be one thing in particular: simple. Müllmann sees one key factor above all for the successful implementation of all the elements: “A motivated, empowered team makes all the difference. We don’t just want to get our retailers and their customers to achieve great things with our brands, we want to celebrate the joint successes with our employees.”
The 40th anniversary is an occasion for the founder and owner to reflect intensively not only on the beginnings of Sport Import, but also on the more recent past. In doing so, Alexander and Michael Müllmann are very clear about what has made the last few years so remarkable: “The social and political awareness that the bicycle can be the solution to many problems has grown steadily. More and more people have discovered the joy of cycling, whether as a sportive hobby or as a means of transportation,” comments Alexander Müllmann. For the company, however, another fact is reason for satisfaction: “As a family business, having a succession in place, and thus remaining a reliable partner for our customers, makes us particularly happy,” adds Michael Müllmann. Alexander outlines the plans for the future as follows: “Sport Import is already on course for Europeanization. We want to push ahead with the transformation to a multinational company, but will always be the approachable and close partner for our customers.”
Sport Import also presents a new company logo on the occasion of its 40th anniversary: “We remain sporty red, but present ourselves fresher and more contemporary. The logo combines the things that define us as a company: reliability, sporty portfolio, powerful team,” says Steffen Klein, Marketing Director at Sport Import. The signet also reactivates the letter combination ‘SI’, as the company calls itself internally. And Sport Import has another highlight coming up soon: “We are particularly looking forward to meeting old and new customers at the Eurobike in Frankfurt after two years without any major events,” adds Alexander Müllmann. Sport Import will be exhibiting there in Hall 12.0, booth number D06. Together with various suppliers of the distributor, a separate Sport Import Area is being created there.