Burley makes loss; local paper ponders firm's future

The Register-Guard of Eugene, Oregon, Burley's home-town newspaper, reports that the trailer maker is in debt and made a loss in 2003 and looks likely to post another loss when 2004's books are finalised.
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Burley is a co-operative. 100 jobs are at stake. 60 of the 100 jobs are 'worker co-operative' jobs.

The firm makes child and luggage trailers, tandems, road-bikes, commuter bikes, recumbents and the Piccolo, probably the world's best trailer-bike attachment.

Eugene, Oregon, was a hot-bed of workers' co-operatives in the 1970s, with Burley the biggest and most successful of 12+ co-ops.

"Burley was an example that others around the nation looked to to see how they could introduce democratic decision-making in the workplace," a former Burley worker told The Register-Guard.

"It would be a big loss not only to Eugene but to the cooperative movement in the United States."

According to The Register-Guard, Tom Wright-Hay, Burley's general manager since 2003, said the firm did not keep pace with changes in the bike industry.

"Looking now at the market data, it's clear that the bike industry boomed in the mid-1990s, powered by baby boomers who had grown up cycling and were willing to spend on high-end bikes and gear when they reached their 30s and 40s," said Wright-Hay.

"Now, Generation X is about half the size of the baby-boom generation and not as physically active. The next generation, Generation Y, isn't old enough yet to afford Burley products."

The Regsiter-Guard said Burley's revenue peaked at $9.1m in 1998 and fell to $6.9m in 2003.

Burley was founded as a bike bag maker in 1969. It was turned into a cooperative in 1978.

The current management believe there will be a "rebirth" at Burley, reports The Register-Guard.

"With more professional management and better training, Burley will emerge a smarter, leaner business better equipped to compete with lower-cost imports," management told the paper.

As well as its current crop of products, Burley will explore other niches in the bike market.

There's a full and frank report on Burley's problems and how they will be turned around at:


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