Abraham Sutfin was born in Pittsburgh, PA. He was raised there, and partly in North Carolina. He has a B.S. in Meteorology from NC State University, and moved to PDX in 2008. He opened Abraham Fixes Bikes in 2010, and also works part time at the United Bicycle Institute. In his free time, you can find Abraham cycling the back roads of Oregon, or constructing bicycle frames.
Stop by sometime and check out his new pup, Watson!
What is your company?
How did you come up with the idea?
My business idea came largely from the automotive industry. There are so many automotive shops that are service based rather than sales, why not bikes? I am not sure that this would work in most cities, but here in Portland we have so many cyclists that there is enough of a market to make it work out really well.
Where did you find your first customer?
The foundation of my business started back in North Carolina. Its a bit tougher there to have this type of a business, so I looked to Craigslist to post ads and find my very first customers. From there, it has mostly been word of mouth.
How did you determine your target market?
We are located on N Williams Ave, a major bicycle commuter corridor, and we get more than 3000 bike trips daily in the summer. Our target market is commuters and bike tourers which is based on our location and cycling passions, respectively.
What are you currently doing to reach them?
We do annual shop bike tours, 3-4 week long trips, and the commuters just come to us. Our location has been key.
How much did you start up with?
$500 and a small collection of tools.
Did you bring on investors, get loans, or grow naturally?
We have grown naturally. And grown we have!
What’s the best advice someone has given you?
I was trying to decide what to do with the growth and started to seek employees, but was unsure of what to do. I didn’t have much of a vision at the time for my business. A close friend asked me if I wanted to be a mechanic or a business owner/manager. His advise was to always have a vision and always know my role in the business.
If the business owner is confused about the business’ objectives, so will its employees, and therefore, the business.
What are your keys to staying productive?
Working really hard, balanced with time off. Self criticism while allowing myself to be proud of the work I do and my role in the community.
When you started, what was one thing you wish you knew?
I wish I knew more about real estate, lease negotiations, and landlord relations.
What resources or books do you refer to regularly?
Has your company experienced any close calls or lucky moments?
I guess my location is my lucky moment. Development on N Williams has exploded in recent years and now there is a New Seasons market caddy corner to my shop. The foot and bike traffic in the area is ever increasing!
What does success mean to you?
Success to me is having a positive impact on my community, being able to donate resources (gift certificates, cash, used bike parts, my time, etc.), all while maintaining profits to pay my employees well, help my family and take care of my own needs.
Where would you like to see your business 5 years from now?
I want to own my own building, and be an expert bike shop in the world of bike touring.
How can people find you online?
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