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Sun will shine.

If all goes well, an Indianapolis woman this summer will sprint around an Olympic cycling course in Barcelona, Spain, riding on bicycle rims from her home state.

Connie Paraskevin-Young, considered the top U.S. female match sprinter in cycling, will ride on Mistral rims made by Warsaw-based Sun Metal Products. "Connie is one of the strongest competitors in cycling in the U.S.," says Richard McKown, Sun's vice president of sales and marketing. "We are very pleased that she chose to ride on our American-made Sun Mistral alloy rims."

Sun's bicycle rims have the chance to capture gold in Barcelona, but the company's products are visible in a lot of other areas as well. Quite simply, Sun is the world's largest manufacturer of wire-spoked wheels; it makes some 4 million of them each year. The wheels move just about everything smaller than a car, including baby carriages, wheelchairs and golf carts.

In the wheelchair business, for example, Sun makes the world's lightest wheel. That's important for reasons that go beyond ease of everyday use; sport and athletic wheelchair use is a growing field, and Sun's expertise gives it a decided advantage over many of its competitors.

The wheel industry keeps rolling on through changes, Sun has found. The exercise-bike craze, for example, has provided a great market for Sun, but a number of manufacturers have decided to use wheels other than the wire-spoked variety. Sun's wheels for decades have been big in the lawn-and-garden industry and in toys, but plastic came along and made for a cheaper alternative in some cases. Lawn and garden equipment still represents a decent-sized portion of Sun's business--especially in the high-wheel lawn mower segment--but the company has continually sought new markets in which to expand.

The aluminum bicycle rim is one such market. The company had honed its technology by building motorcycle rims, and when bicycle sales took off, Sun was ready. Now, it offers Mistral, Chinook and Levanter brand-named alloy rims, known around the world for their quality. They are used not only by individual cyclists, like Paraskevin-Young, but also by teams that compete in track and road racing, mountain bike and BMX competitions. Sun's rims are popular in part because they are among the lightest on the market today, and in racing, every gram counts.

The mountain bike is a particularly attractive product for Sun. It's a wildly successful area of bicycle sales, and it all started in this country, rather than overseas, where most cycling crazes have had their roots. For that reason, mountain bike rims offer great export promise for Sun, which these days ships more than $2 million worth of wheels out of the country.
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Title Annotation:Sun Metal Products
Author:Kaelble, Steve
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Date:Apr 1, 1992
Words:445
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