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Frank the Welder increases capacity, makes space available for retail

Published January 22, 2018

BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. (BRAIN) — Longtime OE frame maker Frank Wadelton is moving his operations into a new 12,000-square-foot factory that will give him room to increase production capacity and extra space to rent to like-minded entrepreneurs.

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The building is on busy Route 5 in this Southern Vermont town on the Connecticut River. Wadelton is a partner in the corporation that bought the building, and his framebuilding business, FTW, will rent roughly a third of it. He said a machine shop is expected to take another third. The rest of the space could be used for a coffee shop, tap room, bike rental operation or something similar, Wadelton said. 

FTW moved to Vermont about 14 years ago. The company has done product development for brands that include Sinister bikes, Christini Technologies, Motivate, Structure Cycles, Spooky Cycles, Vynl Race Bikes and Serotta Design Studio. FTW currently manufactures frames for Vynl, Spooky and Serotta, soon to be joined by John Parker's new brand, Underground, and Fatbikeskis, a new company marketing a ski blade that replaces the front wheel on fat bikes. 

Wadelton said the area is ideal for e-bike riding on underused dirt fire roads that criss-cross the hills. Many of the popular mountain bike riding areas in Vermont do not allow e-bikes but Wadelton said he's had discussions with regional business development organizations about promoting Southern Vermont as a destination for e-MTB riding on the Class 4, 5 and 6 roads. 

"You can get on these roads and ride from one little town to another, but the distances are long for a regular bike. But these roads would be ideal for electric-assist bikes," he said.

The building is on an existing bike path and a planned designated bike route.

While Wadelton said he'd like to see an e-bike rental business take space in the new building, he noted that another small manufacturer also would be welcome. The building is already equipped with a modern compressed air system, fork lift, material handling and 1,200 amps of industrial power, and he is adding new doors, windows, insulation and modern lighting. He can be reached at frankthewelder@comcast.net.

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