This has been a special year for us at Orbea. Fifty years have passed since a group of people — many of whom are relatives — took the reins of a company that needed strong leadership, clear decisions, bigger risks and full ownership of its ideas. This is the story of how we became a co-op.
It was a big leap to change the course of our company, but the zeitgeist of the 1960s, marked by radical social changes, created an unsustainable path for Orbea’s future. Changing our business model was the only way to establish a more viable, long-term future.
Adopting a cooperative model was a decision made by all employees at the time, and the investment came at a personal cost. Every co-op member risked their own assets to save the company from going under, giving rise to fears and realities that their own personal future and finances could be at stake.
It was only a matter of time before the new direction took hold and the company began thriving once again. Today, five decades later, the values that initially defined our co-op continue to leave a deep impression on our character, leading us to explore new ideas and push them further. It’s how we’ve come to understand business and life, and how we’ve found success in both.
On November 16, we celebrated our 50th anniversary in Mallabia — an event that brought out generations of families, including some of the founding members of the co-op, that not only reflected on the successes of the past 50 years, but set their eyes on another 50 years. Here you can watch a video of the 50-year reunion and celebration.
Rubén Gabilondo, the co-op’s president, imparted a few words upon those in attendance, highlighting the historical importance of evolving into a co-op and recognizing the founding members who played a pivotal role in reshaping Orbea’s future. We’re pleased to share the transcript from his speech, below.
This year, our cooperative celebrates 50 years of history. Five decades ago, a turning point in the trajectory of our company took place. It was the moment when Orbea became a cooperative.
I would like to recognize all the people who took a step forward with a clear intention: to keep their jobs and create a goal for the future. A goal that we celebrate today. More than 300 people took this step. Together, with some of them here today, we remember those moments that brought us to where we are, here on November 16 in Mallabia.
These people are the ones responsible for our presence today. They sacrificed and risked a lot, beyond what seemed reasonable, so that, today, we have a valuable legacy. A legacy that we aim to, in turn, pass on to future generations. For it is our desire to carve out a path for even bigger goals, if possible.
Without the effort of those who risked it all, this Orbea would not be possible. A modern Orbea of the 21st century. In the name of those who form the cooperative today — and those who have been a part of it in the past — we want to show our gratitude to everyone who has contributed so much.
Speech by Orbea President Rubén Gabilondo during the 50th anniversary celebration of Orbea as a cooperative. Mallabia, November 16, 2019.