Richmond, Va., opened its restaurants, hotels and historic roadways to about 1,000 of the world’s top cyclists from 75 countries, along with roughly 450,000 spectators, for the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) Road World Championships. Four years of extensive planning led to this nine-day event—simply referred to as Richmond 2015—as it made its return to the U.S. for the first time since 1986.
Taking a front-row seat along the main race course on Richmond’s Broad Street—located in the heart of the city, and just 100 meters away from the event’s start/finish line— was the MAPEI hospitality tent. A UCI main event sponsor for 13 years, MAPEI is not only a longstanding staple in the construction adhesives and installation products business, but in professional cycling as well.
MAPEI’s involvement in cycling spawns from Dr. Giorgio Squinzi, CEO of the MAPEI Group. Squinzi’s lifelong passion for the sport led to the formation of the Team MAPEI professional cycling team. The team made its mark in the cycling world, climbing the ranks and eventually being named the number-one professional team in 1994 by UCI, the governing body for sports cycling which oversees international competitive cycling events.
“Cycling is something that has been very near and dear to our hearts,” said Luigi Di Geso, president and CEO of MAPEI Americas.
Although Team MAPEI no longer competes, MAPEI wanted to remain involved in cycling, and according to Di Geso becoming a UCI sponsor was a natural next step for the company.
“UCI is a world event, and as we are a world company, [UCI] touches all the different countries around the world that we do business with, and we help to give back to the community,” he said.
Blue and white MAPEI signage lined almost every meter of the grueling yet scenic course. For Di Geso and the MAPEI team, the return of UCI’s Road World Championships to the U.S. served as the perfect opportunity to give MAPEI customers a first-hand look at the company’s involvement in the cycling realm.
One hundred MAPEI customers and press were invited to Richmond for a weekend filled with networking opportunities, iconic Richmond eateries and a spot at one of the best seats in the house during the UCI races.
“This is my first UCI event on U.S. soil, so we were a little apprehensive about how it would go,” said Di Geso. “The type of customers that would come, how much they would like it. But we have been pleasantly surprised. Everyone’s enjoying it. We tried to pick customers who are avid cycling fans. So, many of these customers here love the sport and know the sport, and they are extremely ecstatic they had the opportunity and pleasure of being here with us to enjoy it.”
For self-proclaimed cycling fanatic Kevin Moran, attending the UCI event as a MAPEI guest is one experience he’ll never forget. “I am 54 years old and this is one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had.”
A tile contractor out of Newport News, Va., Moran and his team regularly use MAPEI products on their commercial projects. “MAPEI makes a really good, quality product and their customer support is out of this world.”
It is because of these business qualities that Mike Nichols, operations manager at Southeastern Tile Connection in Wilmington, N.C., expected nothing but great things from MAPEI’s invitation to the UCI event. “Having worked with MAPEI for six years, this is exactly what I expected.”
He added, “MAPEI’s involvement in cycling is a great way to get branding out there—especially for a company like MAPEI that doesn’t have roots in the U.S. It’s also a great way to reach out to the community.”
Positively influencing the communities it serves and giving back have long been priorities of MAPEI. “Our purpose in life is to ensure that we provide systems and solutions to our customers and that’s how we’ve grown worldwide and become well-known,” said Di Geso. “But on the flipside, MAPEI knows that it must give back to society and to the communities that have helped build MAPEI to the company that it is today.”
Giving back is a value that is shared throughout the company. “Sports and the arts mean a lot to our company, and that’s what we invest a lot of our sponsorships into,” stated Lee Tindall, MAPEI business development leader in the Southeastern U.S.
Dal-Tile’s Christine Walter shares MAPEI’s sentiments when it comes to giving back. “I am really for community service. I believe what you are given should be given back equally or more. I think the people appreciate the fact that MAPEI is a leader in community service and world service.”
For Walter, an architectural representative for Indiana, attending the UCI event as a guest of the company was not just a gift to her, but her husband Tim as well. The duo used the opportunity to enjoy a weekend of cycling, and to kick off their wedding anniversary celebration.
“MAPEI knows that my husband really loves cycling,” Christine said. “I enjoy cycling but [Tim has] done some racing and is very competitive. This is something he lives for.”
Charged by the positive feedback and success of the UCI event, MAPEI shows no sign of reducing its presence in the world of cycling. “We see the interest in cycling is really growing in the U.S. We foresee these events will continue to be more common in the U.S. and not be as sporadic as they’ve been so far,” Di Geso noted.