Prodeco recently caught my eye with the new electric mountain bikes that they introduced this year; the Outlaw and the Titanio. Over the past few years Prodeco has focused on building quality electric bikes for reasonable price points ($999 and up).
The addition of these new e-mtb’s along with their unique story sparked my interest and I recently visited their headquarters and assembly facility in Pompano Beach, Florida, just north of Miami.
The Prodeco Story
During the time I was at Prodeco I talked extensively with Rob Provost (CEO), Daniel Del Aguila (co-owner), and Jim Aversa (co-owner) about the history of Prodeco and what the future holds for this American e-bike company.
About 5 years ago Robert, Daniel and Jim began importing “container e-bikes” from China for distribution and sale in the US. E-bikes can be bought by the shipping container from factories in China, hence the name “container e-bikes”. They branded these bikes as Eco-Tech bikes.
After dealing with quality issues of these stock e-bikes they began to tear down these bikes and rebuild them with better components and with more attention to assembly details. It got to the point where they were replacing almost everything on these bikes.
Since they were almost building these bikes from scratch they decided to create their own bike designs and build bikes that really fit what people wanted. And they decided to assemble their new bikes at their Pompano Beach, Florida location. E-bikes assembled by American workers!
They get their frames and almost all of the components from China and Taiwan, but the bikes are assembled from the bare frame up to complete bikes in Pompano Beach. Even the wheels are built up at their facility.
During the time Robert, Daniel, and Jim were selling the Eco-Tech bikes they had learned a bit about what people wanted in an e-bike. They studied the market of people that would be interested in electric bikes and asked them what features were important to them. They attended many events where they could gather information on what people wanted in an e-bike.
From their research they determined that their typical e-bike rider was looking for a bike that was stylish, easily portable (foldable), durable, easy to maintain, and economical.
During 2008 and 2009 they worked hard to develop the bike designs and bike specs to create the e-bikes that fit what their market wanted. In 2010 the market responded with overwhelming enthusiasm. The hard work that they had put in to dial in their e-bikes payed off with a lot of demand.
Since 2010 they have been working hard to keep up with the demand of the bikes from their dealers around the US and in South America.
The Current and Future Scene at Prodeco
Currently Prodeco employs around 50 people and they have their production facility and headquarters spread out among 3 buildings in the Pompano Beach area.
With the bikes being assembled on site, they need to stock a few parts in their warehouse…..3 million parts (plus or minus a few)! These parts are for the new bikes as well as providing replacement parts to dealers and customers when they need them. Prodeco can have a part to a dealer within 24 hours.
In order to improve their production capacity they are in the process of moving to a new facility that has 60,000 square feet of potential space for the assembly facility, warehouse, and offices. With the expansion to the new building they will be growing their workforce to over 100 US workers soon.
The new facility will allow Prodeco to produce 192 bikes in an 8 hour shift. It typically takes 6-7 hours to build and quality check one of their bikes. The new facility will be much more sophisticated compared to their current facilities. The assembly lines will be very organized with the flow of work being as optimized as possible.
When I visited the new facility it was in the early stages of being outfitted. Prodeco recently installed a Holland wheel building machine that automates the wheel assembly, while workers still quality check each wheel. They will also be investing in a tire installation machine that will reduce the tire installation time for each wheel.
When the new assembly facility is up and running Prodeco estimates that they will assemble and sell close to 15,000 electric bikes in 2013!
Here is a video of Robert showing off the current Prodeco assembly facilities along with a preview of the new facility:
Robert Provost explained that they also are investing heavily in their employees. They strive to provide a good work environment for people by providing health and dental benefits, the ability to move up in the company, and the most important benefit…….e-bikes at a significant discount 🙂
Robert said that they look for people who would like to make a career out of working for Prodeco. They invest a lot of time and money training their staff and they are hoping that they will stay for the long term. The new facility is close to good neighborhoods where workers may live.
In addition to investing in their employees, they are planning on investing in their dealers. Robert said that once the new facility is in operation they will invite dealers to their assembly facility to show them the behind the scenes action and provide product training.
Currently Prodeco has around 200 dealers in the US and South America. They are focused on expanding their dealer network as they increase their production capacity with the new facility.
Like other companies, Prodeco has had it’s fair share of growing pains. Recently they had to stop working with a few dealers because they were not treating their customers well. Some of these were online dealers who were not following the rules. Going forward, all dealers must have a physical store and service center.
Some people have complained that it is hard to get in contact with Prodeco. They are working to improve their response to potential customers but their priority is to get back to existing dealers and customers very quickly.
Robert is focused on consistent growth for the company. He mentioned that Prodeco has financial partners that have provided the resources for the new facility and future business expansion.
Time for Part 2!
Checkout part 2 of the report from the Prodeco Technologies headquarters visit where I cover the bikes that I test rode, how Prodeco is able to offer a lot of e-bike for a low price, and their commitment to constant improvement.