Fillet brazed steel bikes, handcrafted in Oklahoma.

A rare soapbox, and a deal…

As most of you know, I’m not a full time frame builder. It’s a project that’s relatively new to me. What I’ve done professionally for years is not too far removed, I build things from metal. Currently aircraft parts, but I’ve put my stamp on a wide array of things from pipelines, refineries and powerplants to submarines, spacecraft, skateparks, and the occasional race car.

I am American manufacturing.

I’m the part of this country that still creates wealth. I take raw materials and add the skill and labor required to make a finished good, to be sold for a profit. If all that disappears, then we’re stuck with just what we have, to be endlessly shuffled around as the financiers skim more and more off the top and leave the rest of us wilting right along with the American economy. That’s why this quote from a Bicycle Retailer article really pissed me off today.

“Bjorling said earlier this year Trek moved some of its OCLV frame manufacturing to Asia from Waterloo”    That’s referring to Trek spokesperson Eric Bjorling.

I had admired Trek as being the last of the big companies to manufacture their high end stuff in the States, as Cannondale bailed a couple of years ago.  All of their OCLV carbon frames were made in Waterloo, WI. They’ve moved most of not all of their aluminum manufacturing to Asia already, and now they’ve started with the carbon fiber frames.

Trek has long been driving the moral high road when it comes to giving back. Donations and support for Bikes Belong, IMBA and League of American Bicyclists.  Unfortunately, the American worker is not on the “cool kids” list. Neither is our economy.

Don’t get me wrong here, Trek still does more than most. This though, just struck a nerve. Especially since the retail price of the Asian models most likely won’t see a price decrease that reflects the reduced manufacturing cost. Will retail prices go up every model year to reflect rising costs? Probably.

So basically, in a troubled economy with a 9% unemployment rate, Trek decides to add models to it’s lineup and have them made overseas instead of paying more people in Waterloo, who will spend that money here.

To Trek president John Burke I say, you like to give back? Start with Waterloo, WI, USA.

The rest of you? Buy American when you can. It makes a difference. One of these days it might be your job that gets outsourced.

 

Remember that deal I mentioned?

Trek gives IMBA $10 for every mountain bike they sell.

For every Edoz I sell, I’ll give IMBA $50.

Here endeth the rant.

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5 responses

  1. progetto

    Couldn’t agree more, spent my whole working life using my hands, a lot of craft is a dying art. I’m in Australia and we mine a lot of raw materials, send it to china to be processed then buy it back as metal or whatever, we need to learn to value add as we did in the past, it’s all about the shareholders and short term profit these days. More of our industry and jobs are disappearing by the day, don’t know what our kids will be doing in the future. We are also becoming a top heavy nation in terms of jobs that produce nothing of value, just entities making rules and people to police them, we need to get back to basics.

    August 9, 2011 at 5:46 pm

  2. Jason

    Eric, you are not getting, or telling, the whole story. Trek is not moving more production overseas. They have improved the quality of their TCT carbon, which has always been made there, to reflect OCLV quality. And they are renaming TCT,calling it OCLV. That is the only change. No engineers in Madison will be going without cable due to this move. Trek recently donated 1.7 million dollars to the city of Madison for the installation of a state of the art bike sharing program. As long as you’re upping the ante on Trek…

    August 10, 2011 at 7:56 am

    • edozbicycles

      That’s interesting, Jason. I actually was not aware that Trek did any of their composite manufacturing overseas, but last time I worked for a Trek dealer there were still US made aluminum bikes on the floor.
      I’m not sure that changes my feelings, though. Essentially, instead of moving production from here to there, they are investing more money to improve production that they created there. They’re doing it to expand their product line, which could just as well be done in Waterloo since the facilities there are already capable of producing the superior product that they’re investing into the foreign facilities to obtain. Maybe no engineers will be affected in Waterloo, but I’m sure there are plenty of people in town that would appreciate a good job building new Trek products.
      I’ll illustrate my feelings a bit more for you. We’re not talking about Giant or Specialized here, this is Trek. Specialized hasn’t made anything stateside since I learned to ride, and Giant is an Asian company. (They’re doing a good job of keeping jobs domestic, I guess;)
      Trek is an American company, and I’ve always held a bit more respect for them. They built stuff here far longer than almost anyone. (feel free to insert your Cannondale reference here.) I’ve long thought of them as the last good cop in a bad town, so to speak. That’s why this bums me out so much. Burke likes to donate to causes, and that’s cool. We all benefit from IMBA and Bikes Belong. However, it’s really easy to just write a check and put out a press release about it when you’ve got tons of cash. It’s another thing to really put your money where your mouth is, and take a hit to support the economy that supports your customers.
      I understand the global economy, my day job is neck deep in it. I understand that it’s here to stay.
      I work in the highly competitive aviation industry, and my employer is very competitive in the world market. Half our business comes from foreign airlines. Lufthansa is our single biggest customer. All our manufacturing and maintenance is done here in Tulsa. They could easily farm stuff out to Singapore or Malaysia and save a little cash, but it stays in Tulsa. They’ve stayed ahead of the game while providing American workers with good pay and outstanding benefits. Trek is fully capable of doing the same. They choose not to, and that’s what disappoints me.

      August 10, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    • edozbicycles

      As far as upping the ante, when you look at the percentage of bottom line I think I’m doing pretty good. If I ever actually have 1.7 million dollars, I’ll build a velodrome in downtown Tulsa. I’ll even drive some of the screws myself. How’s that?

      August 10, 2011 at 3:25 pm

  3. Jason

    Works for me, Eric. I think it is funny that we are talking about American jobs, American products, etc., and you have a reader from Austrailia who feels the same way about his country. And why not? We are patriotic, we love our country and we love our people to have good jobs. Yes we live in a very small world, so small that your thoughts and opinions are broadcast across it with total ease. But you can’t lay the blame on the corporations. Corporations are only responding to the demands of the market. And being on the sales floor, I can tell you that people want stuff cheap. They pass out at the thought of paying a few hundred bucks for a quality bike. When someone comes in and says they want American made, I ask them if they brought their checkbook. When they find out how much it costs to go American made, they lose their resolve real quick.

    August 11, 2011 at 7:36 am

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