Allied Cycle Works was founded upon a mission to create the best bicycles on earth. The Little Rock operation is one driven by inclusiveness, ingenuity and passion towards the craft. Every one of the Allied employes embodies these attributes of excellence. Especially Dustin Williams.
Williams is the director of sales and e-commerce for Allied Cycle Works and has been in that role since the company was in its infancy. Although he describes himself as the “oddball” of the team, coming to them from outside the bicycle manufacturing industry, it’s this quality that sets him apart and makes him invaluable.
Williams spent his early days in central Arkansas and graduated from Bryant High School. After initially dabbling in computer science at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, he was recruited for a work opportunity early on and fell in love with the tech space.
“I am very much an autodidact, so I love to teach myself how to do things, and I love real-world experiences to teach myself things,” Williams says. “I started working on a computer when I was 10 years old. That really sparked my curiosity of going down the path of electronics. I would rip apart my computer and figure out how to rebuild it; I would wipe the drive and figure out how to put DOSS back on it. It was through those failures and reverse engineering that I found a love of computers and going down that path.”
Though he did not know it then, his future would be shaped by what, at the time, seemed like little more than innocent curiosity.
Eager to branch out from his comfort zone and continue his pursuit of tech knowledge, he took a leap outside of Arkansas, moving around to various places across the country and the globe, including a stint in Spain.
The most notable of these endeavors was the four years that he and his wife spent in Seattle. While there, he worked for interactive design agencies TEAGUE and Microsoft, where he specialized in conceptual product development, user experience and user interface design. After honing his skills in e-commerce abroad, he moved back to Arkansas; not only to be with family but also to bring his new-formed talents back to the Natural State.
He came back on a mission to utilize his expertise to help startup and early-stage companies. Williams was recruited to Northwest Arkansas by John James, then of Acumen Brands, and he quickly helped turn Acumen’s Country Outfitter into an online clothing company of national significance. Virtually overnight, a company no one had ever heard of blew up, securing more than seven million Facebook fans in just four months.
“Country Outfitter was focused mostly on boots, which at the time was a booming market. The competitors were Boot Barn, Cavenders, and other brands like that, which had brick and mortar stores. Country Outfitter was strictly e-commerce driven – direct to consumer,” Williams explains. “From a user experience, user interface background, focused on e-commerce, we grew that business to about a $200 million business, and I helped secure almost $100 million in capital on that team.”
Williams established himself as a major player in providing startups with unprecedented growth. It was then that he was approached by the founders of Allied Cycle Works, who were interested in bringing him on board for their own direct-to-consumer bicycle business, to do exactly what he did with Country Outfitter.
His presence was felt immediately at the startup bicycle manufacturer, and the massive success of the company today is undoubtedly a major credit to him, yet another feather in his cap.
Williams took advantage of this opportunity and hit the ground running with Allied. He molded its direct-to-consumer model into one of maximum efficiency, through user experience, user interface, setting up the e-commerce platform and driving traffic via brand awareness on social media outlets.
“What is interesting is that since I do not have a cycling background from the industry perspective, I came with a totally fresh perspective on everything,” Williams recounts.
Though he is a cyclist himself, he really was an outsider to the business world of cycling. This presented some initial challenges, but he is never a stranger to those – in fact, he relishes them.
“I had to step up my game to educate myself on the cycling side of the business,” Williams admits. “But I also came from a different perspective in terms of putting hyper-growth into the business. So, I applied a lot of these ‘startup mentalities,’ the lean startup methods of growing a business as rapidly as possible from a technology standpoint.”
Williams’ unique perspective provided Allied with a set of eyes as fresh as the bikes they produce, not limited by some of the potential limitations that others in the industry may have.
“We can’t do that,” was never a hindrance, he says. His creativity and ingenuity were allowed to flourish, just as their mission statement cultures.
“I was very fortunate to have a team behind me to let me run the ball on that,” Williams says.