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Industry veterans launching 'high-volume' carbon bike factory with Guru Cycles equipment

Published August 23, 2016
Former Specialized and Orbea managers and others set up factory in Little Rock.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (BRAIN) — A group of industry veterans is setting up a high-volume carbon bike factory in Little Rock, using equipment purchased from Montréal's Guru Cycles, which went bankrupt last year. The group, doing business as HIA Velo, also purchased the Cyclart bike painting business, which is being moved to Arkansas. HIA Velo will release its own bike brand next year and expects to manufacture for other brands as well. HIA is an acronym for "Handmade in America."

HIA Velo's owners are Tony Karklins (the founder of Orbea USA), Douglas Zell (a longtime cyclist and founder of Intelligentsia Coffee) and Sam Pickman (an 11-year veteran of Specialized's senior engineering team). The company also has hired Chris Meertens, a former composite parts developer at Specialized, who joins as HIA Velo's senior composites engineer. Olivier Lavigueur, who worked in the Guru composite department for nearly 11 years, joins HIA Velo as its composites production manager. David Woronets, the founder of Zen Fabrication in Portland, Oregon, joins as HIA Velo's metal product and production manager. Zen shut down its OEM production earlier this year.

Karklins is the founder and managing director of HIA Velo. He purchased the Guru assets in February.

"For the last two decades, I have seen bicycle factory after bicycle factory close down and shift their production to Asia," Karklins said. "Now, few bicycle brands actually manufacture the products they sell. Even stranger, most of the composite bikes from nearly every known brand are made in only a handful of factories in Asia. We founded HIA Velo because we feel there is a real competitive advantage in having full control of the entire product development and manufacturing process under one roof, here in the USA. Our goal is to re-shore best-in-class, high-volume composite bicycle production and to create great American-manufactured cycling brands."

Five containers of equipment and machinery were relocated from the Guru factory to HIA Velo's facility in Little Rock. Installation took approximately 90 days.

"Paint was the last piece of the puzzle. We purchased Cyclart from Vista, California, in July and will be relocating them to Little Rock early this fall. Cyclart will handle all production paint for HIA Velo products and continue to offer premium refinishing, restoration and repair services to the industry, including composites repair," Karklins said.

HIA Velo will launch its first brand, Allied Cycle Works, by next spring. Karklins said the company is in discussion with other brands and is pursuing joint venture opportunities in the industry.

The company will release several limited-edition products this fall as production scales up prior to the launch of Allied Cycle Worls.

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