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Old 02-05-19, 11:00 AM
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coffinjewel
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Career options

Hi hi! hopefully someone can give me some advice,
I hope im not making this thread in the wrong place. I've been in automotive mechanics and fabrication for 3+ years (unliscensed mind you) and I absolutely hate it! The entire trade is awful to me. I've really been passionate about building bikes since I restored one for my partner ages ago and put together a few other projects. I'd really love to be a bike mechanic and possibly progress into frame building in the future. My question is will a shop see my experience as an asset when applying or should I try and get some other relevent experience first? How picky are shops about the experience of their mechanics? Is there a sure way to look good on a resumé?*
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Old 02-05-19, 11:03 AM
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Going into this know you'll be working for minimum wage.......

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Old 02-05-19, 11:04 AM
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What do you hate about automotive mechanics and fabrication? You might find many of the same things in bike wrenching.
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Old 02-05-19, 11:19 AM
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I already work for minimum wage doing the work of a licensed tech now so I am not overly concerned about income I'd rather be in a field that I enjoy.
I'm fully aware the job isn't all peachy but no job is and it beats the soul crushing job I have now. The "go back to school and get licensed as an auto-tech" doesn't interest me and would be a huge waste of money no matter how in demand and well paid it is.
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Old 02-05-19, 11:28 AM
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a Career would be buying and running the business that is Bike shop.. it's a service business.
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Old 02-05-19, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
a Career would be buying and running the business that is Bike shop.. it's a service business.
1. Everyone has to start somwhere 2. I'm positive there are other options besides "start your own shop" every brain dead tech you meet in the auto industry has the idea that one day theyre going to open a shop and make the big money and then theyre back working for someone after declaring bankruptcy a year later.

Judging by the replies on this thread it's all the same attitude lol "the job sucks, it doesnt pay enough I deserve more and the end goal is owning my own buisness becuase I'm much smarter than everyone I've ever worked for"

I will concede it's probably a dead end job but I'm fairly ok with that. Maybe career advice was a bad title.

A big draw for me is that I know a few other women in the bike industry (as mechanics even) where as the auto industry is so heavily male dominated that I've never worked with or even met another woman in the trade.
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Old 02-05-19, 12:25 PM
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If it is you passion, go for it. I see you live in Ontario, so I am assuming the province in Canada. If so, and you live close to a Mountain Equipment Co-op you should talk to them. I don't think the necessarily pay more than other shops (although maybe a bit better than minimum wage) but I have met MEC employees outside of their work and they seam to enjoy working there and it seams like a positive work environment..
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Old 02-05-19, 12:32 PM
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although you disliked auto work in your limited time in that shop, , at a dealership you stand a better chance of a good wage and a retirement plan..

lots of people do less than their dream job, to feed their families..






....

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Old 02-05-19, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by bikeaddiction1 View Post
If it is you passion, go for it. I see you live in Ontario, so I am assuming the province in Canada. If so, and you live close to a Mountain Equipment Co-op you should talk to them. I don't think the necessarily pay more than other shops (although maybe a bit better than minimum wage) but I have met MEC employees outside of their work and they seam to enjoy working there and it seams like a positive work environment..
That's a good idea for sure, thanks. I do also love camping so MEC would be an interesting environment.
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Old 02-05-19, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
another step, would be a job with a wholesale supplier, , as traveling sales rep to several regional bike shops ... helping them restock..


But you may do better in the food service business since you get wages + tips ..


as a Canadian, you don't have the restaurant owners Association historically lobbying the state Ledge
to have sub minimum wages, for tipped workers

and overcharging for health insurance..
You seem like a very bitter person... Anyways I know loads of food service folks and that IS not the job for me
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Old 02-05-19, 01:07 PM
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Originally Posted by coffinjewel View Post
. . .
Judging by the replies on this thread it's all the same attitude lol "the job sucks, it doesnt pay enough I deserve more and the end goal is owning my own buisness becuase I'm much smarter than everyone I've ever worked for"
. . .
I never said any of that. I asked a pertinent question which you avoid; that tells us a lot about you. Good luck.
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Old 02-05-19, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by coffinjewel View Post
Hi hi! hopefully someone can give me some advice,
I hope im not making this thread in the wrong place. I've been in automotive mechanics and fabrication for 3+ years (unliscensed mind you) and I absolutely hate it! The entire trade is awful to me. I've really been passionate about building bikes since I restored one for my partner ages ago and put together a few other projects. I'd really love to be a bike mechanic and possibly progress into frame building in the future. My question is will a shop see my experience as an asset when applying or should I try and get some other relevent experience first? How picky are shops about the experience of their mechanics? Is there a sure way to look good on a resumé?*
After reading the whole thread; I'd like to make a suggestion: get into MEC or a similar shop, and in parallel set up a side business building custom bikes to order, using your current ride to showcase your abilities.* Start with off the shelf frames, and as you build your business, fund learning to build your own frames and the equipment required for the job.
*
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Old 02-05-19, 01:36 PM
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No I live in a state with a Decent minimum wage* and so my friends who are in many of the restaurants, in this town do OK,
though they are challenged by housing costs ..

* Herman Cain, one of the past candidates for the Republican party nomination for POTUS , was one of those cafe chain owning lobbyists ,
the south eastern states do have a different wage for those . employees ..

just stating history.. because I'm Old enough to have recall.

by the way you will do better in auto dealerships in the service department , too ..

In college towns, the bike shop managers , had a spouse on the University faculty , such was the family life of one Sheldon Brown
Mrs Brown , a tenured professor of mathematics..







.....

Last edited by fietsbob; 02-05-19 at 01:42 PM.
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Old 02-05-19, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by AnkleWork View Post
I never said any of that. I asked a pertinent question which you avoid; that tells us a lot about you. Good luck.
My mistake that wasn't a reply to you specifically. I avoided the question because its complicated and irrelevent. This thread isn't about how much i hate my job i included that info to stop people from asking why I would step backwards. This also isnt a thread about convincing me to not be a bike mechanic, I was simply curious about what qualifications shop owners are looking for.
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Old 02-05-19, 01:38 PM
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Turn a hobby into a career and you usually end up ruining a good hobby.
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Old 02-05-19, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
Turn a hobby into a career and you usually end up ruining a good hobby.
I'm aware but I have other hobbies interests so when I end up hating cycling there are other fallbacks lol
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Old 02-05-19, 02:16 PM
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The retail bike business if rampant with those who entered because of passion. Unfortunately it's also a regressing industry with many LBS closing down due to inability to maintain cash flows and also profits. Many reasons for this, a big one is seen in this forum nearly daily with links to on line resellers.

The warnings about wages isn't complaining but a big heads up. Few lifers (and I'm entering my 46th year in the LBS world) survive well without some other income/support source. The classic is having a smart and successful partner who gets you the (for here in the US) retirement fund, the health insurance and who the bank looks at when it's time for the house purchase. The other is being independently wealthy to begin with

Having said all that I welcome another passionate member to our industry. I do find bike people to be, on average, more pleasant to deal with whether they are suppliers, co workers or customers. Something about our getting endorphins effecting our outlook on life I suspect. But can jerks be found in every corner of the real world too.

I agree with the plan to try to land a job in a LBS or regional chain shop. Spending a season or two chained to a repair stand can do a lot to learn what this business has for the long term. And it is that side of the LBS, the service side, that will best stand up against the otherwise shifting sales seas that are sweeping over every retail world. Do know that when it's nice outside you'll be stuck inside. If you're a cyclist that can be a hard trade off. Andy
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Old 02-05-19, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by coffinjewel View Post
Hi hi! hopefully someone can give me some advice,
I've really been passionate about building bikes since I restored one for my partner ages ago and put together a few other projects. I'd really love to be a bike mechanic and possibly progress into frame building in the future. My question is will a shop see my experience as an asset when applying or should I try and get some other relevent experience first? How picky are shops about the experience of their mechanics? Is there a sure way to look good on a resumé?*
Based on my experience at a fairly big independent shop, your experience in mechanics and your own bike projects will be a huge plus. Also, most shops are eager to have some gender balance in their service departments.

So, yes, I would apply directly to a bike shop with what you've got. I wouldn't emphasize how much you hate auto mechanics -- but saying you are passionate about bikes and find more meaning working with them is great. Most good shops are always looking for people, especially in the spring. The service departments are reliably profitable, or should be. Put on your resume your mechanical work, your experience with bikes, and your willingness to work flexible hours. The last one is the golden ticket for a lot of shops.

I saw people hired from lots of backgrounds -- college engineering students with no hands-on mechanical experience, motorcycle mechanics, and just general cycling enthusiasts. The people who cared about the work and were willing to learn did great. There are so many different bike components and issues. No one knows them all, and even if one did, new ones come out every year. A general interest in mechanics, curiosity, and a drive to get things right will get you far.

I like the suggestion to keep up on side work, like building and selling bikes. Frame building is a tough business. The successful model is to have first worked for a big famous company, like Serotta, have a reputation for outstanding work, and barely scrape by turning out absolutely gorgeous works of metal. A family fortune or another source of household income and insurance, as another mentioned, helps. I mean, that just helps across the board.

You'll do great -- have fun, take a shot at it, make the bikes sing.
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Old 02-05-19, 03:22 PM
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Ontario is a big place. Are you near a major city? some of the larger cities have co-ops. Perhaps you might do well volunteering at a co-op and then see if that's what you like?

I go to the Buffalo co-op and IIRC the head mechanic there started as journeyman and travelled a bit to find work. It might be a door into something permanent as the bike community is a small community and you might hear of an opportunity there that you wouldn't normally hear of. If you can only get bike work part time, you could always feed yourself with the automotive job as you build that reputation. I know of a Canadian frame builder who "has another job" because there isn't a lot of folks here looking to have a frame custom built. I do see ads on Kijiji offering tune-ups and repairs and you might build a rep that way as well.
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Old 02-05-19, 04:04 PM
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These are the kinds of answers I was looking for thank you I live near a big city so I'm not too concerned about finding work there's bike shops everywhere here. Frame building deffinetly seems like more of a labour of love and also a very saturated market I never had any intent on building my own designs it more seemed like a good application of my fabrication skills.
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Old 02-05-19, 05:24 PM
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The first bike shop I worked in was Alameda Bicycles in Alameda, CA. That was 1982. Since then I have worked in several others and still doing it on a as need basis. Managed a shop, wrenched, sales, etc. As a manager I hired any girl that came in looking for a job. Each and everyone of them was a success. The problem was they only stuck around for a few seasons as the money was not enough to keep them interested. Such a shame as they were all so very talented and really great for moral. Those were special days.
Long days, ride time is on Sunday and that is it. When it is nice out, you are working. When it is sloppy out, you get laid off. I like every aspect of the business, but not enough to own my own shop as it is a low margin biz, and much better money can be made simply by learning to invest in the equities market.
Personally, I think you should go for it and learn as much as possible. Pick up on salesmanship, managing inventory, cash flow, etc. Learn to build your own frames, and if you decide, then go public. I have built 4 frames now and am looking to start the 5th one. At some point I will be confident enough to hang out a shingle, maybe. Don't want to turn my absolute passion into a pain in the butt, so I have to be careful about that.
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Old 02-06-19, 10:45 AM
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Follow the good advise above and get going, you are on the right track. Long retired but I have had 1,000s of employees over the years and can tell you those who excelled were often doing what they loved to do. Those educated, intelligent, dependable, motivated, friendly, etc., employees stuck in a career they did not like (usually for financial or family reasons) were miserable and I know it bore heavily on their life and career.
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Old 02-06-19, 04:27 PM
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I have to ask if you have considered other sectors that offer good careers for mechanics. Construction and industrial machinery, heavy trucks, agriculture. Those tractors and combines need lovin' with a wrench from time to time too.
In any case, best of fortune to you in whatever you choose.
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Old 02-06-19, 04:50 PM
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Dan Burkhart brings up a good point. There is more to mechanics than autos and bicycles. At one point I worked on pumps of all kinds. Also was a prototype "engineer" meaning I built prototypes of proposed products. That was a most interesting job and challenged my creative and problem solving skills. Was it as fun as the bike shops? Nope, not even close, but it paid a whole lot more!
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Old 02-06-19, 05:21 PM
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And every ship on the river or ocean needs someone minding the engines ..
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