Last Friday I joined Open House New York’s Factory Friday tour of Worksman Cycles in Ozone Park, Queens a series which opens up local factories to the public. Worksman Cycles is a bicycle and tricycle manufacture which has survived and thrived since 1898. The President and Director of Marketing, Wayne Sosin and Bruce Weinreb took us on a tour that followed the beginnings of building a bike from cutting tubing all the way through assembly and packing.
Largely a manufacturer of industrial grade tricycles, think a vehicle to transport people and goods around a Boeing plant, one of their large customers – Worskman makes everything from lugs to wheels and parts in between.
This particular frame builder has been with Worksman for a long time and according to Bruce has probably built more bicycle frames in his life than anyone else in the US.
Welding is not an easy task and before employees can move up the welding later they have to spend about five years on simpler welding jobs.
My grandmother used to work on the line in a car parts factory and seeing these women reminded me of the her tough work.
It seems like Worksman is a good place to work as evidenced from their local hiring practices. 65% of employees live within a five mile radius and walk or bike to work. A fair amount of employees on the industrial floor had been there from anywhere to 5 to 25 plus years. I did have a chance to talk to one employee directly and he told me it was “just a job.” Perhaps doing the same few task over and over is what it is.
Another 10-15% of the Worksman business is in building out custom made food trucks and carts which helps when one industry isn’t doing so well.
Overall it was nice to see a local NYC factory producing durable bikes at affordable prices. And even nicer, it isn’t full of white men hipsters with beards but rather the factory is an actual reflection and employer of the local community.
For more photos, check out Flickr.