Bike business sees uptick since COVID-19
MONTGOMERY — Dave Weiner says Priority Bicycles is coming back as strong as ever since the coronavirus pandemic hit in March.
He’s the CEO of the small business, located out of a former manufacturing site in the borough, where bicycles are assembled and shipped around the U.S.
“So many people are buying bikes now,” he told U.S. Rep. Fred Keller, R-Kreamer, who was on site with his staff Monday.
Weiner told Keller he recently hired a few people to his small workforce to meet that demand.
Kids’ bicycles have been a particularly high-selling item of late.
“We have never seen the demand for kids’ bikes as we have now,” he said.
Weiner likened this year to a “roller-coaster” with COVID-19 affecting his and many other businesses.
Many of his sales go to hotels, which rent out the bikes to their customers.
And so, when many hotels closed due to the coronavirus, Weiner felt that impact.
“Hotels can be 50 percent of our business,” he said.
While orders for more bicycles dropped off earlier this year, Weiner said he used that downtime to focus on other things.
“We were very productive during that time when we weren’t selling,” he said. “We came out stronger.”
Weiner said he felt lucky he was able to avoid furloughing any employees.
“There’s more than luck involved,” Keller said. “I think it goes to how well you run your business.”
Weiner said the government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) unquestionably was a big boost to his company.
Keller said the program helped a lot of businesses in their time of need.
Established by the CARES Act and implemented by the Small Business Administration with support from the Department of the Treasury, PPP provides small businesses with funds to pay up to eight weeks of payroll costs including benefits. Funds can also be used to pay interest on mortgages, rent and utilities.
Keller said there is still more PPP money available for businesses.
It’s his hope, he said, that another stimulus program can be rolled out as well.
“Our focus needs to be on small business and communities,” he said.
Weiner said he couldn’t be happier after starting his business several years ago in Montgomery.
“It’s a fabulous location. We have a dedicated team here,” he said.
For Weiner, it’s a big change after working in computer software in New York City, doing work that didn’t make him happy.
He was bitten early on by the entrepreneurial bug
“From the day I had a paper route, I liked working for myself,” he said. “I like taking ideas and solving problems.”
It doesn’t hurt that he has a passion for bicycles.
By his own estimate, his company has sold more than 50,000 bicycles.
He likes the idea of selling a product that provides exercise and fun for people.
“We sell exclusively online,” he said.
He stressed that his business is based on the old-fashioned model of serving the customer.
He explained how he came up with the name Priority Bicycles for his business.
One of his priorities, he said, was to spend more time with his family, which his business allows him to do.
“We make products here that are top quality,” he added.
He has slowly expanded the business since opening it and feels the best may be yet to come.