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Wanted: Mechanic. Offered: A free house!

Published March 29, 2022
Cycles of Life in Leadville, Colorado, needs to find the right mechanic/service manager and will include a free house to rent.

LEADVILLE, Colo. (BRAIN) — Filling openings for mechanics has become more challenging than ever in the past two years with the country's workforce amid career reshuffling that started during the COVID-19 pandemic.

So Brian Feddema knew he had his work cut out when attempting to hire a head mechanic/service manager recently at Cycle of Life in Leadville, Colorado. Perks such as epic riding opportunities, industry discounts, and the chance to blend passion with profession don't go as far as they used to. So Feddema upped the ante by offering rent-free use of a house he owns, what he estimates to be a $1,300 a month benefit.

"We've had a pretty good response," said Feddema, who started running a classified ad on BRAIN in mid-March. "A few great applicants so far. I've been advertising for the position for a couple months now with no success. The addition of the free house to live in was imperative to getting the qualified applicants so far."

Jenny Kallista, president of the Professional Bicycle Mechanics Association, said this is the first time she's heard of such an offer.

"I guess the desperation to have a good mechanic is getting real," Kallista said.

Feddema, who opened Cycles of Life in 2006, said he previously offered the 500-square-foot fully furnished downtown house within walking distance of the store as a perk to attract contract workers during his busy season.

"This is the first time I've made it available for a full-time employee and willing to have it available for our service manager/head mechanic for as long as they are employed," he said.

In Leadville and for the caliber of employee sought, Feddema said offering free rent is required to fill his opening. Further compensation includes pay between $20-$25 an hour, and spring and fall performance bonuses.

Job responsibilities include the timely completion of service and repairs, focusing on quality and efficiency, checking in bikes, keeping parts and supplies stocked, and managing other service employees while helping enhance their skills.

"I feel without offering (the house), I would not have any success in filling the position," Feddema said. "There is no one currently residing here in Leadville with the knowledge, skill set and drive that we need."

Turnover for mechanics at Cycles of Life is about every couple of years, "since most don't consider it a profession," Feddema said. "Most move on after a couple years. I did have one that stayed for seven years but finally moved away with his girlfriend."

Feddema is the primary mechanic at the shop and said he goes from nine to 11 employees in the summer down to two in the off-season.

"I can only recall one recruitment offer that included housing," said Ron Sutphin, United Bicycle Institute president. "It was some time ago, and the job was in Hawaii. It's nice to see some creativity in the posting. I think that it recognizes the value of an exceptionally qualified service manager while mitigating the costs of relocation for the employee as well as the labor costs for the shop."

Leadville's Harrison Avenue. Getty image.

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