Is it Kinetics Ltd?
No, officially it’s Ben Cooper trading as Kinetics. I’m personally liable for all business debts, unlike limited companies where no individual is responsible. But I’m not worried.
So, you’re a one-man band?
I do the lot – build bikes, pack mail orders, answer emails, make the coffee, and do the accounts, when I really, really have nothing better to do. The computer is always on in the workshop. I’m always up to date with the forums I post to, including BikeBiz.com. I usually do emails in the evening with a large beer.
You’re famous for your eclectic stock (some of it electric, even), do you walk the walk and talk the talk?
Green you mean? I’d like to do more. Sometimes it’s difficult to work out the best option – for example, air pocket padded envelopes are less environmentally friendly than shredded paper ones, but they’re much lighter so use less fuel to transport.
I’ve made a lot of changes in the shop. I switched all shop lighting to fluorescents and LED lights, reducing the electricity demand by over 1kW. I switched our electricity supply to Good Energy, which obtains all its electricity from sustainable sources.
For every online order, £1 goes to Climate Care to offset the carbon produced by the transport used to get products from the manufacturer to me and from me to customers.
I switched from plastic to paper parcel tape with biodegradable glue. I also switched to backingless label pockets – the pockets that hold the invoice on the outside of the box. Normally these have non-recyclable waxed backings.
I now use shredded cardboard or biodegradable corn starch padding for delicate items instead of expanded polystyrene. I use a cycle and trailer for moving stock locally instead of motor transport, Kinetics doesn’t own any motor vehicles.
As a specialist in the electric market, do you feel it is now safe for mainstream dealers to invest in this territory?
Often it is down to the brands that the retailer chooses. The cheaper brands are selling plenty of units, but cheaper bikes may not be something many will gamble on.
In the main, we see very few faults. Occasionally there will be a worn out battery pack that needs replacing, but the greater the investment the customer made in the first place, the longer the product will tend to last. Circuit boards are rarely problems, but they don’t deal with poor treatment, for example persistant vibration and water.
Any advice to those looking to take their first steps into stocking electrics?
Don’t dive in blind. It’s not for everyone and you should have a mechanic who is savvy with electrics, as well as the tools to back up service work.
Don’t be too fooled by the positive reports on this sector. The market in Europe is maturing and becoming a more mainstream customer desire. The market is not doubling like it may well be in China.
Is there much opportunity for add-on sales?
Many of mine are built to order, so yes! Commuters will always spec a little extra for bikes that serve a purpose.