|| Print ||
|Wednesday, July 27, 2011|
Despite Portland's much-lauded bicycle culture, the local bike manufacturing industry faces many challenges.
Frame builders, many of whom studied at the United Bicycle Institute of Ashland (the only bicycle frame-building school in the world, according to owner Ron Sutphin), are the most common type of bicycle artisan in Portland, though there are also craftsmen who build wheels, bike tools, and even ultra-specialized products like handmade wooden bicycle fenders...Building a bicycle frame is very labor-intensive, and each frame can take up to several months to make. The individual nature of the work and the handcrafting aspects of the process mean that, over time, frame builders can develop distinctive styles, says Sutphin, often incorporating subtle touches imperceptible to laypeople, which distinguish them from their colleagues. Many of these styles, especially among frame builders who specialize in steelwork, are inspired by historical bicycles of Europe.
Independent, labor-intensive work may provide great opportunities for artistry, but it is difficult to make a living that way. Since most frame builders are independent businesspeople, they must devote time to marketing, sales, finance, supply, and other business functions that take time away from actually producing bikes and generating income. This helps explain the top-notch prices handmade frames command. After the cost of materials, tools, and shop space, frame builders may make a profit of $1,000 to $1,500. With an output of perhaps two frames a month, “you end up making less than a barista,” says [Ben Farver of Argonaut Cycles]. What’s more, it’s tough to charge more money for a hand-built frame because Portland is home to so many skilled frame builders—charging too much drives customers to other frame builders and prevents a craftsman from making a sale at all. To support themselves, many frame builders take second jobs as bike mechanics for other businesses.
Read more about the artisan bicycle manufacturing industry at Neighborhood Notes.
|The 100 Best Nonprofits to Work for in Oregon 2014|
|A Recipe for Success|
|Verizon posts higher Q3 revenue|
|Oscar Pistorius sentenced to 5 years in prison|
|IBM to pay Globalfoundries to take chip unit|
|Spotify introduces family plan|
|GE profit rises 11%|
|Google profits slide 5%|
|HBO to launch streaming service|
Is your business ready to join us in the call for action? This opening panel includes Oregon businesses who will discuss why they signed the Oregon Climate Declaration, the investments they are making to reduce carbon emissions, and how their actions are affecting their companies.
Get ready for two days of special events produced with the EPA, Portland Timbers and ISOS before and after the GoGreen Conference on October 16.
Finding a health insurance plan that makes both financial sense for the bottom line and provides choice for plan participants is a huge challenge for employers.
The right financing at the right time is critical for small businesses to succeed.
Among Oregon universities, Oregon Tech is special in the way it incorporates applied research into the curricula of every department.
More than 400 "Change Makers" will gather to invest in a socially sustainable community.