In John Robinson's opinion, many successful businesses are the direct result of other businesses' lousy customer service.
Take his shop, Johnny Velo Bikes, for example.
On the website for the business at 4231 N. High St., Robinson writes about what motivated him to start the enterprise:
"Buying my first road bike was not a good experience. I went back to the large bike-shop chain with questions on how to shift and was looked at with disdain and treated terribly. That experience stuck with me and is one of the reasons I created JVB."
"I knew if I did it right, we would be in the realm of bike shops that are doing well," Robinson said "Our whole goal is, we're the only shop in town that gives a full year of free service. I want people to enjoy riding their bikes."
People must think Robinson is doing it right; he's been named the Clintonville Area Chamber of Commerce's Businessperson of the Year for 2019.
"It's kind of overwhelming," Robinson said. "I appreciate it greatly. I'm very grateful that people have recognized what I'm trying to do, not only to make their bike shopping a better experience but (also) to make Clintonville a better, more bike-friendly community."
As part of its Celebrate Clintonville awards, the chamber each year names a Businessperson of the Year, Business of the Year and ThisWeek Booster Community Volunteer of the Year. The latter two winners will be profiled Feb. 14 and 21, respectively, in ThisWeek Booster; all three will be honored during the 19th annual Celebrate Clintonville event, set for Feb. 28 at the Clintonville Woman's Club.
Among those nominating Robinson for the chamber honor was Gahanna resident Stephanie Waite.
"I first visited Johnny Velo Bikes back in October," she said. "Some people I work with had a workshop that he put together ... on basic bike maintenance and how to change a flat tire and things like that. He customized it for us, the women on our Pelotonia team."
Waite was new to cycling, having owned her bike for less than a year. What impressed her most about the Clintonville shop, Waite said, was how Robinson and his employees treated a relative newcomer.
"I just really liked how Johnny Velo Bikes was welcoming, whereas some of the other shops are not," Waite said. "I really liked the welcoming atmosphere in the shop.
"The more I hung out, the more I realized how much John cares about Clintonville. He cares about getting kids to wear bike helmets. He cares a lot about putting people on the right bike, versus the bike that costs a lot. You have someone who really cares about what the customer needs."
Clintonville resident Jon McKnight also nominated Robinson for Businessperson of the Year, impressed with the impact he's had on Clintonville in only the shop's first year.
Johnny Velo Bikes opened in March 2018 in the High Street strip center that also houses Little Eater and Hot Chicken Takeover.
"In that period of time, he's done just a phenomenal job of serving in the community," McKnight said. "He's taken a role in the community. He offers clinics and tours of the community, historical tours of the community ... ones that don't serve his business. He's just doing it for the community and for the good of other causes.
"He also seems like a very good guy, a good soul."
Among the reasons Mc- Knight mentioned in his nomination letter that Robinson deserved the award were the Clintonville community bike rides he has organized; his volunteer work with the chamber; sponsorship of the 2018 Cranksgiving event, in which bike riders gathered food for those in need; and his membership in Charity Newsies.
The bike shop is somewhat of a second life path for Robinson, who parlayed a public-relations degree from Ohio Dominican University into a career in banking, as a commercial marketing manager for Huntington and later as a technology and software consultant.
Robinson said he named his shop for a blog he started in 2014, replacing his last name with a term that means "fast pedestrian."
Robinson is a cancer survivor, having been diagnosed with leukemia in 1999. That led to his involvement in fundraising bike rides to battle the disease.
"That kind of became a passion of mine," he said.
Other recent Businessperson of the Year winners include Cliff Wiltshire of the Clintonville Spotlight; Jennifer Williams and Scott Bowman of Weiland's Market; Kevin Johnson of Music Go Round; Addie Davis-Holsinger of Re/Max Capital Center; and Jessica Kehn of Artisan Dance Studio.