Gallery: Bike parts maker Chris King a cornerstone of Portland's bike economy
By Suzanne Stevens
Chris King head sets are the product that launched the company back in 1976.
Portland's penchant for pedaling is well known. The city regularly ranks among the most bike-friendly cities in the country and there is an army of two-wheel proponents pushing to get more people out of their cars and onto bikes.
What's less well known is that Portland is home to one of the world's most renowned bicycle parts manufacturers. Located in a nondescript 70,000-square-foot warehouse in Northwest Portland's industrial district, the nearly 100 employees of Chris King Precision Components have been cranking out sophisticated aluminum, steel and titanium bike frames and components and shipping them to bike makers around the world.
And They're doing so with little fanfare — particularly for a company whose parts are regularly featured on bikes in elite cycling competitions, including the Tour de France.
|Behind the scenes at Chris King Precision Components >>|
"We just recently put signs outside the building and before the first of the year, we didn't even have a blog on our website," said Chris King Communications Specialist Kyle Von Hoetzendorff. "[Company founder] Chris King's philosophy has always been we don't need to be out there beating our chest. Plus, our business has been doing fine without that."
That is changing, in part, due to King's desire to promote clean and quality processes that can help reinvigorate homegrown manufacturing.
"Chris has tried to do that here. We're reaching out now to try and share that," said Von Hoetzendorff.
The company certainly has plenty to evangelize underpinned by a fierce dedication to sourcing locally, reducing waste and creating a healthy environment for employees. The innovations were enough to earn King, who moved the company from Redding, Calif., to Portland in 2003, an invitation to talk manufacturing at the White House in September.
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