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|Articles - December 2010|
|Wednesday, November 17, 2010|
Joel Grover worked at the Bike Gallery in Portland for more than 20 years before he decided to set up Splendid Cycles on his own in May, selling nothing but cargo bikes.
Limiting your shop to extra-long bicycles built to haul hundreds of pounds of groceries, tools and/or kids may seem like a strange niche, given the amount of work required. But it’s an area of opportunity in Portland, which has gone from a handful of cargo bikes to hundreds in a few years.
Grover says between young families going car-free, out-of-state orders (especially from California) and small companies rushing to brand themselves local and sustainable, business has been strong; he lost money in the first month but has made money in every month since. He’s using his earnings to buy top-of-the-line merchandise from around the globe, including bikes built locally by Ahearne Cycles and Metrofiets.
Metrofiets founders Phillip Ross and Jamie Nichols work out of a small garage on NE Alberta Street crammed full of ancient tools and vintage bicycles. Ross, a 40-year-old former research librarian, and Nichols, a 29-year-old self-described “iron monger,” specialize in cargo bikes designed to last 100 years, with aircraft-grade steel from Dillsburg Steel in Pennsylvania and headsets built in Portland by Chris King Components. At 68 pounds, their bike is 30 pounds lighter than the Dutch bikes that first caught on in Portland in 2008.
Ross and Nichols earned local fame for designing a party bike that hauls a beer keg for Hopworks Urban Brewery and a café-on-wheels that Trailhead Coffee Roasters owner Charlie Wicker pedaled for all 425-plus miles of Cycle Oregon. But they aren’t just selling locally. One Metrofiets bike is soon to be shipped to Australia, and Ross is traveling to Colorado to custom-design another. They plan to add staff in 2011 to crank out standard models.
“We’re growing exponentially,” says Nichols.
“It’s crazy to keep up with,” adds Ross.
It’s a similar situation at B-Line sustainable urban delivery on SE Alder Street. Founder Franklin Jones, a former California schoolteacher, launched the company in 2009 after traveling extensively in the dense cities of Europe and Asia.
Demand for bike deliveries picked up substantially in January 2010, and Jones was able to hire his friend and business adviser, Randy Koch, a freight logistics consultant and former president of GE’s CommerceGuard division.
Koch says he likes the cargo bike business model because it works. For businesses shipping small amounts to multiple points in the urban core, “We’re simply cheaper and quicker.”
Jones and Koch have grown the company to 10 employees and 15 Portland clients including Whole Foods, Eco Dry Cleaner and Organically Grown. They also have launched a program to pick up soon-to-expire produce from local food stores and bring it to nonprofits that feed the hungry.
Next year they plan to add two new vehicles to the fleet and pick up new clients. They are also looking into expanding into new cities such as Eugene, Seattle and San Francisco.
Thursday, July 03, 2014
BY TED AUSTIN & MIKE BAELE | GUEST CONTRIBUTORS
The Office of Economic Analysis announced that Oregon is currently enjoying the strongest job growth since 2006. While this resurgence has been welcome, the lingering effects of the 2008 “Great Recession” continues to affect Oregon businesses, especially with regard to estate planning and business succession.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY DEBRA RINGOLD | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
Why has six years become an acceptable investment in public undergraduate education that over-promises and underperforms?
Wednesday, July 09, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
Scott Kveton, the CEO of Urban Airship is taking a leave of absence from the company. As the story continues to unfold, here’s our perspective on a few of the key players.
Friday, August 15, 2014
In this week's poll, we asked readers: "Who should pay for the troubled Cover Oregon website?" Here are the results.
Friday, August 22, 2014
BY CLIFF HOCKLEY | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
When business intersects with family, a host of situations can arise. Without a clear vision and careful planning, hard-earned investments can become stressful burdens.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
OB Research Editor Kim Moore shares some pointers about the 100 Best Companies to Work For survey.
Tuesday, July 08, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
The New Yorker recently published a sharply worded critique of “disruptive innovation,” one of the most widely cited theories in the business world today. The article raises questions about the descriptive value of disruption and innovation — whether the terms are mere buzzwords or actually explain today's extraordinarily complex and fast changing business environment.
Update: We caught up with Portland's Thomas Thurston, who shared his data driven take on the disruption controversy.
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