Roland Sahm was the person whose money and effort brought Faliero Masi to the United States to establish a world class bicycle framebuilding company in Carlsbad, CA in 1973. The vision actually began with one Roger Smith, one of the managers that worked for him at the Elixir Corp., that was Roland Sahms' flagship business. A business, by the way he started from scratch in his garage in Gardena, CA if I'm not mistaken.
Roland Sahm passed away Jan. 25 at age 85. He passed away peacefully in his sleep. A funeral service was held Friday, Jan. 31 at the Village Church in Rancho Santa Fe; which is only about a mile or so away from his estate. Most of the persons attending the service were family and key business associates and Elixir Corp. higher-ups. I was one of the first people to arrive and I had a nice opportunity to look over the numerous magnificent flower displays. At first I thought the service would be small attendance; but eventually there were a considerable number of people there. I was clearly out of place. The only one there with a pony tail and a gotee for sure. I could sense a few people trying to figure out who I might be and what I might have to do with Roland Sahm. I suspect almost no one in that building even knew that Roland Sahm had such an impact on the institution of American framebuilding. Nor cared, really. To them, Roland Sahm was the family and business leader. He was the source and origin of their well being in many ways.
Just as I had gone inside and found a place to sit I turned to look around and I spotted my one and only ally as representitives of Rolands venture into the world of handmade bicycles. Ted Kirkbribe entered the church and we made contact. We sat in the spot I had settled in and talked quietly before the service. Roland had consulted with Ted even before the project was set into motion. Ted is now the current owner of the rights to the Masi name. He has essentially seen the venture from seedling to present. I feel in a very strong way that Roland Sahm had a major impact on my life. I still remember the first and only Christmas Dinner that was served in the actual Masi workshop in Carlsbad in Dec. 1973. Mario was there, Roberto was there, Faliero was there, Simonetti, Howard, Vanderlinde, and Hoefer were there. Ron Smith, my framebuilding/painting mentor was there. Jim Adney was there as were Roland Sahm, Leon (the accountant), LeiLani the secretary, and Roger Smith, the manager whose vision started Masi USA. Oh, yeah, I was there as well. Roland was sincere and generous. But he was a business man and various things between the Italians and Campagnolo eventually put a damper on his enthusiasm for the Masi project. I firmly believe he treated everyone fairly and gave them a chance to validate themselves. Had things gone differently Roland would have continued to energize Masi.
During the service an opportunity was given for anyone in the building to say something about Roland. It would have been impossible for me to speak. Ted asked me if I would like to say something. I really would have; but I simply couldn't. Ted said he was and he rose and approached the lecturn. I watched as many people leaned over to ones near then questioning who this might be. As Ted began to speak the questioners knew that Ted was goint to talk about Masi and Rolands' contribution. It was beautiful and priceless. I can't imagine how Ted was able to speak because he was in the same condition as I. His courage prevailed and as difficult as it was he delivered a speach that causes me tears even now. Thank you, Ted, for doing that for those of us who knew him through Masi.
Rest in Peace, Roland Sahm. There is no doubt that Roland was a wonderful man. Those who may feel otherwise simply did not know him or were seeking to take advantage of his kind and genuine generosity.
Brian Baylis La Mesa, CA
Off to ride with the LA/Pasadena Gang