BY TRISHA SAKHUJA
What started as a small business on the footprint of the World Trade Center in 1898 is now the only large-scale bicycle manufacturer in the country.
Bruce Weinreb, the marketing and sales manager at Worksman Cycles, said an overwhelming number of bicycles come from China and a small number of more up-scale bikes are exported from England and Taiwan, but they are “the last people to have a factory dedicated to making bicycles in the country.”
“We are very proud of that,” he added.
Worksman Cycles moved to its current location at 94-15 100th St., in Ozone Park in 1978, Weinreb said.
“As the business grew, it needed more space,” he said. “When you need more space, Manhattan got pricier, so we jumped over the river to Brooklyn, and then eventually came to Queens.”
Queens gives you real advantages like proximity to shipping and air, Weinreb said.
“It’s very accessible to the airports and the ports,” he added.
Weinreb said Worksman Cycles supplies super, heavy-duty bicycles and tricycles that are used in large automotive and airplane factories and oil fields.
He said these factories buy hundreds of their bicycles, instead of using golf carts.
As for bikes for the every-day cyclist, Weinreb said they also make simple bikes that are long lasting.
“We make good solid, kind of old-fashioned steel bikes, because many people just want a bike,” he said. “They are not that concerned with the latest features. They just want something simple to ride and maintain.”
He said they also make mobile food vending equipment, such as hot dog carts and food trucks that roam the City.
“They are used all over, but New York City has a greater demand,” he said. “This is a niche business with competition coming and going over the years, but we always seem to outlast them.”
The secret to their success is the quality of their bikes, Weinreb said.
“After 115 years, you get good at what you do,” he added.
In terms of their workforce, Weinreb mentioned the increasing number of them who walk or ride their bikes to work, which is also a reflection of the neighborhood’s demographics.
He said years ago, more employees were of Greek and Italian descent and now it is comprised of more Vietnamese and Indian people.
“We have a great, new workforce of men,” he said. “They are hardworking people.”
Another change Weinreb spoke about is the difference in the neighborhood’s crime rate.
“It’s a nicer and safer neighborhood,” he said.
Looking to the future, Weinreb said the demand for bicycles will continue to grow, not only because of more people leaning towards a healthy and environmentally conscious lifestyle, but also because many young people are living in urban areas where a bike is deemed more useful than a car.
“Bike ridership is returning to what it originally was, because it always was a good and inexpensive way of getting around, as opposed to it just being a sport,” he said. “Another thing is, more and more people are going to work with jeans, rather than a tie and suit.”
Reach Trisha Sakhuja at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Tsakhuja13.