Ion² Progression Suspension - An Expert Suspension Service Center Located in Invermere, BC
By: Jen Baker
Ion² Progression Suspension, located in a small mountain town in eastern British Columbia, isn’t your average bike shop. In fact, it’s not really a bike shop at all. Invermere already has three of those. Rather than dropping in to compete for a small piece of the apple pie, founders Jon Welsh and Mylene Lefebvre have carved out a service-based niche of their own. By focusing solely on the repair and maintenance of motorsport and mountain bike suspensions, Jon and Mylene have managed to build a successful local business. But success hasn’t been confined to a narrow singletrack. With 70% of business coming from mail-in orders, Ion² Progression Suspension has built a boardwalk to meet demand XC, across Canada that is.
Read on to meet the founders of Ion² Progression Suspension. Learn how a couple from Quebec, with a shared background in downhill mountain bike racing, ended up in Invermere, BC, and turned their passion for play into work that they love.
Meet the Founders
It was meant to be a six-month snowboard trip to BC. A chance to explore beautiful British Columbia and then return home to Quebec City. But six months turned into a year and “eventually my mother stopped asking when we would return,” Mylene shares with a smile. Her laughter lightly echoes throughout the shop — a well-balanced mix of metal and wood. The space has been carefully curated to unify precision machined parts with the great outdoors.
This never-ending vacation is a story typical of these parts. For outdoor enthusiasts, like Jon and Mylene, Invermere is paradise. Here you can choose between snowmobiling or skiing during the winter, and mountain biking or motorsports during the summer. Oh, and there is a lake too! Invermere truly has something for everyone.
It’s certainly hard to leave this playground in ‘The Valley of a Thousand Peaks’. Even more so when you can work where you play. “I ran the bike rental shop up at Pano, while Jon took on the role of Bike Park Manager. He helped build their trail system to what you see today,” Mylene recalls. Jon listens while meticulously working on a Fox Float X that just arrived by mail.
For those who have worked at Panorama, memories of shredding the trails after a shift are accompanied by an easy, carefree smile. And with a shared racing background, Mylene and Jon are quick to offer a friendly face. Case in point, when two customers enter the store, a lively conversation unfolds that would lead you to believe long-lost friends had just been reunited. From this encounter, it is clear to see that the couple genuinely love their work and the customers that support them.
They also love being part of the local bike community and were among the founding members of the Columbia Valley Cycling Society. A non-profit group run by volunteers who advocate for trail access and the development and maintenance of new trails. Sanctioning existing trails in the region has also been a top priority. The well-known Lake Lillian and Mt. Swansea Trail Networks are managed by the CVCS.
When not protecting and building trails, Mylene began officiating UCI bike races as a Union Cycliste International Commissaire, while Jon worked at Columbia Cycle, a LBS. Biking is their world, and it is wholly believable when Mylene says, “we are as passionate as our customers.”
It’s this passion for mountain biking and motorsports combined with Jon’s 20+ years of bike maintenance experience that led to the establishment of Ion² Progression Suspension. Which was created with one mission — to bring a reliable, high-quality suspension service center to all riders.
Switchback to Success
Officially opening for business out of their basement in the fall of 2017, Jon and Mylene were able to move into a storefront less than a year and a half later. The shop itself is impressive. Depending on your technical prowess, the specialized tools, nitrogen tank, shock dyno, and vacuum pump might catch your attention. For most, however, it’s the friendly greeting and great customer experience that people appreciate. “We aim to make everybody feel important, no matter how big or small the part,” Mylene shares.
In addition to great service that is tailored to each suspension setup, Jon also suggests upgrades as needed and provides education about settings to make the ride more enjoyable. Because ultimately, that is the driving principle behind Jon and Mylene’s business – optimizing performance to maximize fun.
A Pandemic Proof Plan
When Jon and Mylene started Ion² Progression Suspension in Invermere, there was nothing available locally. All suspension work was sent away. “There were two shops on the coast and one in Montreal,” Jon shares, making note of less than a handful of Canadian-based businesses available to take on the workload. This meant unknown wait times and long turnarounds.
As avid bikers and snowmobilers, Mylene and Jon understand that minimizing downtime is the ultimate goal. So early on, they worked to create a streamlined booking process. This allowed customers, locally and across Canada, to make appointments online. No more unknown wait times. With an online booking system, Jon and Mylene can communicate directly with customers. This puts people, who are sending expensive parts by mail, at ease because they know exactly when their order has been received and when it will be returned.
At the time they weren’t thinking about Covid-19, but the online booking system kept things rolling along when the pandemic first arrived. Despite uncertainty for many small business owners, the couple experienced increased demand. “More people are getting outside than ever before. Motorized sports and biking have skyrocketed,” Mylene explains.
To keep turnaround times low, the couple recently hired their first employee. Later this year they plan to expand their shop to showcase a larger inventory, and by summer they will look to grow their team further.
It’s no surprise that Ion² Progression Suspension has found quick success in a niche market. Jon’s knowledge of suspension repair and maintenance is unparalleled. This is in part due to hands-on training from manufacturers like DVO and Race Tech.
“Dialing in the suspension to meet the unique requirements of the rider, and the terrain they are riding, allows the customer to feel the difference,” Mylene explains, “which makes for a more enjoyable ride.” It’s Jon’s expertise and individualized approach, combined with preventative maintenance in the offseason, that ensures people get to spend more time doing what they love.
“We want our clients to enjoy the outdoors and their machines,” Jon says, showing noticeable pride and excitement for his work. And it’s clear, Jon and Mylene are dedicated to taking care of their clients' suspension needs. But all work and no play is not why they moved to Invermere. So, when not in the shop, they can be found snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, snowboarding,dirt biking, and of course mountain biking.
Regardless of your chosen sport, the off-season is the perfect time to book a suspension service. While you’re shredding up the mountain on your sled, have your bike suspension looked over. That way you’ll be ready to send it as soon as the snow melts.
To find out what brands Ion² Progression Suspension services or to book an appointment, visit ion2suspension.com