Detroit Bikes, a small bicycle factory that began operations on the city’s west side in August, told workers last week that the factory would be suspending production for at least the near future.
The move put between 25-30 workers out of a job while the company, headed by 30-something Zak Pashak, looks for new retail outlets and sources of capital.
The company, which produced a retro-inspired commuter bike that retails for just $550, halted production after inventory exceeded current demand and the company lacked sufficient revenue to continue. The idea was to build a sturdy, reliable, inexpensive bike in the city that put the world on wheels.
Pashak, who hails from Calgary, said that Detroit Bikes planned to manufacture between 4,000-5,000 of its bikes in its first fiscal year with plans to double and redouble production. At the time of the shut down, the company had produced approximately 500 bikes, having accelerated to a pace of 35 per day.
“You have to go from 0 to 60 immediately,” Pashak about about the demands of meeting production targets as a small manufacturer. Initial production was funded almost entirely by Pashak’s personal investment of $2 million.
Pashak cited a drastically reduced local seasonal demand for bicycles as the reason for the stoppage.
“We’re waiting for sales to catch up with our supply,” Pashak said, aiming to increase his network of retailers, based largely in metro Detroit, from 20-25 to more than 150.
Pashak said he’s generating interest “in a manual, hands-on kind of way” by currently showing the bike firsthand to major urban biking centers like Portland and Austin.
“This is something that hasn’t existed in the country for a very long time.”
Ryan Healy cleans a house for his money but writes for a living. He lives, eats, and sleeps mostly in Detroit.