FRANKLIN, WI – Mike Zimmerman is a business man. He's made millions through starting, growing and selling health-care consulting firms. He knows how to make a buck and learned the value of crunching numbers early on. At just 17, he took a junior consultant role with his father's company, traveling to hospitals, performing accounting audits and figuring how to make them more profitable. He's doubled his own investments many times over.
So why is he selling the entire bike park at the Rock Sports Complex—a self-funded business venture in which he invested hundreds of thousands of dollars—for only a dollar?
"I'm not looking for a manager per se," said Zimmerman. "I've been looking for someone else to own it—someone that shares the long-term outlook, passion and vision required to make this work."
The Rock Sports Complex announced earlier this week via its Facebook page that it would discontinue downhill mountain biking, writing "The current business model doesn't support itself, nor does it offer the surrounding MTB community an option that best reflects the type of ridership in the Metro Milwaukee area."
Ten lift-accessed downhill trails dropping 375 feet of elevation in Wisconsin need somebody to love them. | Photo courtesy The Rock Bike Park
The Rock Bike Park was built in 2013 and featured chairlift access to a network of Gravity Logic, Inc. trails winding down a reclaimed landfill, dropping 375 feet of elevation.
"It was purely a business decision," said Zimmerman. "One part financial, one part risk mitigation and one part focus."
He cites lack of growth in the first three years, his timeline for a "proof of concept" venture, along with astronomical insurance costs and lack of a downhill demographic in the region.
"Even though we were rated the best park in the Midwest two years in a row, this ranking never translated to our financial statements in a positive way. (Residents of) Milwaukee didn’t seem to care much that they had one of the nation's best downhill bike parks in their city," he said. "Metro Milwaukee is still very much a cross-country community. It's a huge and vibrant mountain bike community, just not downhill oriented. It’s still virtually impossible to walk into any bike shop in Milwaukee and purchase a dowhill bike."
The Gravity Logic built trails at The Rock provide more berms for a buck than you can shake a rake at. | Photo courtesy The Rock Bike Park
But for Zimmerman—who started the bike park after riding Trestle and Steamboat in Colorado—the $10.5-million complex, including the baseball diamonds, is his first investment based on personal passion. And while the dollars and sense don't add up for him any longer, he'd prefer see someone else with that same passion carry the torch rather than let it die or try to recoup his losses.
"My offer is simple and compelling: I am willing to sell the bike park for $1—this season only— to the 'right person,'" Zimmerman told MTBparks.com.
-by Don Stefanovich