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Mechanics' pay discussion goes viral

Published February 14, 2014

MORGAN HILL, Calif (BRAIN) — Close to 135,000 people have viewed Donny Perry's slide presentation  comparing bike mechanics' annual salary to what an average high school dropout makes in a year (spoiler alert): According to one source, the bike wrench makes less.

"How many times have you heard industry friends say, 'I don't work here for the money?' As an industry we just accept that bike retail is a labor of love, forgetting the level of professionalism we all bring to our roles," Perry said.

Perry is Specialized Bicycle Components University's global development manager.

And though many responding to the presentation have taken issue with his stats, the details are not important to Perry. He wants the industry to stop working for substandard pay, mechanics included.

"I'm very encouraged by the discussion. It's something we need to think about and address. And I'm excited about what the NBDA and others are doing about mechanic certification, but those programs need to be more than just mechanics," he added.

"College degrees, or certification, does not assure a certain salary level or job security. I hope certification programs can also push innovation in the way things are done," he said.

Perry picked mechanics as his example for a few reasons. They do tend to be poorly paid, and many times this poor pay encourages mechanics to start their own bike shops. Since today's underpaid mechanic may be tomorrow's new shop owner, Perry thinks job descriptions in traditional bike shops need to be recast.

"Shouldn't we be training a mechanic to true wheels, and in other aspects of running a shop? The good shop owners I have met have to some extent gotten out of the way of their employees and allowed them to take over aspects of the business to let their ideas be tried," he added.

Perry has no answers but wants to get the industry talking about these issues.

As far as the $22,337 average bike mechanic salary goes, Perry quotes from in his slideshow. He gathers from the response he has had from Specialized dealers that their mechanics earn in the low $30,000s.

From the U.S. Department of Labor's May 2012 report, the most current available, an average "bicycle repairer" receives $25,250. 

The average salary of a high school dropout, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2012 report, is $20,241.


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