April 22, 2014

FLO Cycling - The Warehouse

Cash is King when starting a business.  On paper it seems very logical that one would get a warehouse when starting a business like ours.  It is logical but it's not always practical.  Much of what we do at FLO is done in the comfort of our own homes.  Until recently our warehouse has been no exception.  Even our new warehouse is a work in progress.  Here is a little history of the warehouse journey while we've started FLO.

The Garage

Yes, I know it's kind of cliche to talk about the garage start-up.  Often it's used even when a company did not start in their garage.  The truth for FLO is that we did start in a garage.  Chris and I were living together at the time and we had a one car garage that was the workshop for our first prototypes.  We learned to build wheels, bond fairings, solve the problem of drilling spoke holes in carbon by hand, and countless other things.  After several months we had our first prototype that we completed by working many late nights after our day jobs ended.  I'll never forget these days.  Ambitious and totally naive about what we were getting into.  I wouldn't change a thing.  

Lining up a fairing to drill spokes holes for the first FLO 60.
Early prototype jigs.
First prototypes before we figured out the spoke hole locations.  The holes were huge!
The first FLO wheel ever built.  Chris still had his work clothes on. 

The Spare Bedroom, Kitchen and Living Room

By the time our first production run of wheels arrived, Chris had moved out.  I was living in a 1,200 sqft two bedroom condo that was on the second floor.  It was the obvious choice for our warehouse, lol.  Needless to say, every room became useful space and we both got a good workout carrying 400 boxes up and down the stairs.  We learned more in these early shipping days then we had ever imagined.  We struggled to process 80 wheels in one day.  We now can process over 300 on a good day.  Henry Ford was onto something.

Command Central, sticker table and all.

The living room.
The dining room and kitchen.

The spare bedroom.

The House

After our first couple of containers, Chris moved into a house.  Fortunately for us there were 15 ft ceilings and there was a unusually large room.  We converted this room into our warehouse and order processing area.  During processing and shipping days the rest of the house was taken over as we sorted and organized the orders.  We were pretty comfortable here and we learned how to become efficient.  We used this space for about 15 months and it gave us the opportunity to keep more cash in the bank.  Here are a number of shots of our "the house warehouse" with wheels stacked by type.

The new command central.

Orders processed and ready for UPS pick up

The New Warehouse... Well Sort Of

At the end of last year, Chris was moving out of the house he was renting and we were too big for my 1,200 sqft condo.  We officially needed to rent space.  The question was where.  We have a good friend in town that owns a building.  The basement of the building had a 5,000 sqft space that needed a floor poured and heat/AC.  The heat was not big deal but the AC was a serious issue for two Canadians living in the Las Vegas heat.  We took a look at the space and it was perfect.  We agreed to have a floor poured and we would move in.  Well, last minute it was decided the floor would not be poured.  The space is in a medical office building, and the space will likely be used for a surgical center.  Surgical centers need pipes in floors, which is why we had to hold off on the floor.  With no time to spare and Order 10 wheels on their way from LA we made the decision to move in.  We used what we had and built a temporary space to process wheels.  For now it's perfect.  It's rough around the edges but it's perfect.  Soon enough we will move into a new place, but to be honest I wouldn't have it any other way.  

The new warehouse before we moved in.  Not too bad!

Wheels after we unloaded a container.  Sorted but type and build.

Setting up the new order processing area.  Construction scraps rock!

Set up and ready to go.

We added lights for late night processing.

Wheels processed and ready to be picked up by UPS.

I've always been amazed by businesses that start day one in a brick and mortar location.  There is a lot to be said for people who are willing to take that risk.  Maybe we are a product of the internet age but ironically for us, we felt right at home starting our business this way. 

Take care,



Tyler Hardy said...

What is vastly under stated in this post, is that throughout all this transition and adaptation, with limited resources and a myriad of duties, Flo Cycling has managed to bring their company to success while not sacrificing even the slightest amount of support towards their customers.

When I received my Flo wheels (60 and a 90), I had a hand-written and signed letter from Chris. What Flo lacks in their size and production capacity, they more than make up for in their respect for their customers.

No question goes unanswered. No thought, idea, or concern goes unaddressed. And not only that, but the response comes from one of the owners—I dare you to find that somewhere else.

If there is any product Flo Cycling sells that is an undisputed cycling industry prize, it's their service.

Keep up the solid work guys!

FLO Cycling said...

Tyler Hardy,

We really appreciate your kind words. We do our best to treat our customer like we would like to be treated. One day we will likely grow to the point where we hire people to help us answer some of those emails, but we will always keep a close eye on things.

Have a great night.