Corrections or additions?
This story by Peter J. Mladineo was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper
on December 16, 1998. All rights reserved.
From Bed Sheets to Bike Seats
Anton Zevenbergen’s successful career making bedsheets
for the stars detoured after a news report on TV about an
correct" bicycle seat would change his career path. Now
is no longer into linens, and has moved his bicycle seat enterprise,
ABS Sports, to 3,000 square feet at Windsor Industrial Park.
Zevenbergen, 50, is a native of Holland and has a degree in marketing
and textile engineering from the Textile University, in Enschede,
the Netherlands (Class of 1969). Attracted by the possibilities of
a ritzy clientele and an even higher profit margin, he started a linen
venture, Bonne Nuit (French for good night), in Lakehurst 15 years
ago. "We were involved in the cutting and sewing of extremely
high-end bed linens for the predominately rich and famous,"
says. "Our sheets were selling for $1,000 a sheet. Fine colors,
fine fabric, and lots of markup." His client list included Frank
Sinatra, Bette Midler, Cher, Linda Ronstadt, and Michael Jordan.
But then, nine years ago, Zevenbergen noticed a news report on Channel
4 about a bicycle seat invented by Rick Denisar. Immediately
saw the possibilities and called Denisar in Browns Mills. He wasn’t
the first to call. Zevenbergen reports that Denisar had received
of inquiries — and some from heavy hitters like Honda and Volvo
— but somehow Zevenbergen convinced the curmudgeonly inventor
to agree to a joint venture. "He does the manufacturing and we
do the marketing," says Zevenbergen. "It’s much better for
While the item is unique, it’s not like a hula hoop, a fad that goes
away, Zevenbergen believes. It’s actually a medical device. "Some
of our seats retail for $139," he says. "We’re the
bicycle saddle in the world. There are none higher."
But the cost of the seats is not a deterrent, he reports, because
usually his clients — many of whom have prostate problems —
have no other choice. "The doctor tells them to have no
in the groin," he says. "Then the two alternatives are a
saddle from ABS or a recumbent bike. And most people don’t like
In October Zevenbergen’s original company, Bonne Nuit, stopped doing
linens. "The dollar dropped against the Swiss Franc so much that
the prices became outrageous even for the stars," he says. The
company is still in operation, but now it has only makes pillows,
pads, and comforters for arthritis victims. For that line, check out
the Web page at http://www.arthritisrelief.com.
Nine years ago Zevenbergen started by purchasing the export rights
to Holland. "I couldn’t get the domestic rights," he explains,
"but as we did okay overseas, we subsequently were able to acquire
the domestic rights as well as the world rights."
Since then Zevenbergen has even added a bicycle saddle and a
bike to the inventory and has been marketing the product line heavily.
He reports that over the last year he has invested more than half
a million dollars into trade show marketing efforts. The majority
of the bicycle seats, however, are sold via ABS’ website,
"Because we advertise and we direct the consumer to the Web I
would say that 60 percent of our turnover comes to us from the
Zevenbergen reports. "In an advertisement you can say so much.
When someone is in trouble they do research on the Web. So people
search on the Web for bicycle parts and we just ship it overseas.
The anatomy of a Japanese person or a Swedish person is the same."
ABS doesn’t stand for anything in particular. "A Better Seat?
I don’t know," Zevenbergen laughs. "I just wanted to be up in
the directory. ABC Sports, of course, is already taken."
Zevenbergen, who hasn’t relinquished his Dutch citizenship, doesn’t
look back at his decision to leave expensive linens for groin-friendly
bicycle seats. "You kind of go with the flow," he says.
— Peter J. Mladineo
Industrial Park, Building 15, Windsor 08561-0011. Anton Zevenbergen,
president. 609-371-1554; fax, 609-371-7133. Home page:
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