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Mobile trade group to work with PBMA

Published March 29, 2018

PLAISTOW, N.H. (BRAIN) — Members of the Independent Mobile Bicycle Professionals group have decided not to form a trade association, but instead to explore ways to work with the Professional Bicycle Mechanics Association, an association formed in 2016. The mobile group will continue its closed Facebook group, which now has about 170 members, with about 50 applicants pending. 

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The IMBP began as a way for mobile service operators to share tips and to present a unified front to industry suppliers and other entities. In the past, some wholesalers would refuse to sell to mobile-only businesses, although that's become less of a problem recently. The National Bicycle Dealers Association still does not accept dealer members who run mobile-only businesses.

Members of the IMBP were exploring formally registering as a trade association, but after meeting with PBMA leaders at a recent mechanics workshop in Virginia, decided to work with that group, instead.

"We agreed that they had already invented the wheel and there was no reason to re-invent it," said David Ricker, who owns and operates a mobile service business in New Hampshire, Pedalin' Fools. 

The PBMA already welcomes mechanic members who work for mobile businesses, whether they are owner/operators or work for a mobile franchise or brick-and-mortar store. Ricker said the IMBP group would look for ways for the PBMA to offer more programs that serve mobile. The IMBP leaders were looking for ways to offer group purchase discounts on mobile-specific equipment and Ricker is hoping that can be accomplished through the PBMA.  

Ricker indicated that the mobile operators are particularly interested in PBMA's mechanic certification programs. Certification would make it easier for independent mobile businesses to provide bike assembly and delivery for consumer direct bike brands, something that the franchise mobile service companies, Beeline and Velofix, are already doing. 

"Those (consumer-direct) companies are looking for standardization and professionalism for that last-mile fulfillment, that's why they are attracted to Velofix. So we are looking to the PBMA to come up with standards to make sure the people providing fulfillment are certified," he said. 

James Stanfill, the president of the PBMA, said after reading a BRAIN article about the mobile group, he invited IMBP members to the Virginia workshop in February to discuss ways the groups could work together. 

"Some of our board members were there as well so it was convenient," Stanfill told BRAIN. "We discussed their goals and frustrations and we decided there is some stuff we can work on together. We have a lot of stuff in place already and I think they saw the benefits in working with us."

Topics associated with this article: Mobile service, Advocacy/Non-profits

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