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Working on the First Coast: Bicycle warehouse pedals into expansion

Posted: April 8, 2014 - 5:56pm  |  Updated: April 11, 2014 - 11:56am
Andrew Carter, east coast manager for 3G Bikes, sits on the Newport, an aluminum frame model, Monday in the company's warehouse in Green Cove Springs. Carter just doubled the size of the warehouse to 20,000 square feet in order to handle all of the bicycles.  Will Dickey/The Times-Union
Will Dickey/The Times-Union
Andrew Carter, east coast manager for 3G Bikes, sits on the Newport, an aluminum frame model, Monday in the company's warehouse in Green Cove Springs. Carter just doubled the size of the warehouse to 20,000 square feet in order to handle all of the bicycles.

Andrew Carter has had a long history in the bicycle industry on the First Coast and his warehouse in Green Cove Springs is getting bigger.

Carter began his early career as a representative of Caloi bicycles. While he was selling the bikes on the First Coast and beyond, that came to an abrupt end shortly after the recession in 2008 when Caloi, based in Brazil, discontinued bike sales in the United States. He then switched to representing 3G bicycles, which includes beach cruisers, tandem bikes and even some three-wheel bikes.

Carter is now the representative and distributor of the China-based 3G company for the East Coast of the United States and has sales in about 250 shops from New York to the Florida Keys. Carter has expanded his warehouse on Enterprise Way in Green Cove Springs from 10,000 square feet to 20,000 square feet in order to handle about 10,000 units sold in a year at a retail price ranging from about $240 to $600 each.

In terms of running a bike warehouse, it sounds like it would be pretty easy. But how hard is it?

Well, it is labor intensive because we bring in 30-foot ocean containers that are packed to the gills with about 350 to 400 bikes in each container. You have to off load these by hand and sort them by color and by model. It’s just a matter of keeping a good inventory in stock, staying in touch with dealers and supplying them with the product they need.

Which is harder, handling the physics of a warehouse or the actual leg work of contacting these hundreds of bike shops up and down the East Coast?

I would say the physical part of manually doing the shipping and receiving. Really, the bikes sell themselves because they’re a great price point. The ride is really nice. Most of the time when we set up a shop and get bikes in their shop, they move the products and then they’re going to start reordering from us.

What is it about the bicycle industry that attracts you to it?

Like anybody, I like to ride bicycles and it just seems like a fun industry to be in. It’s something that I enjoy doing and checking out new models and learning about the industry. It’s kind of casual and in the wholesale end of it, you’re not really dealing with customers like the retail end of it.

It sounds like you’re moving a lot of units through your warehouse. When you go to the beach or around town, Green Cove Springs or Jacksonville, you probably see a lot of 3G bikes. What goes through your mind when you see all that?

It makes you feel proud that, hey, there’s another happy customer riding one of our bikes. Of course, it’s easy to pick them out. I’m always looking for that when I’m out near the Beaches or in St. Augustine or whatever.

What’s the best thing about being in your line of work?

First of all, the potential to grow is real easy. You can basically go to any market or any city and almost every city has a bike shop. There’s potential to grow because you can basically sell anywhere, any state or even abroad sometimes. … There’s always new shops opening, so it seems like there’s always a potential new customer right around the corner.

Drew Dixon: (904) 359-4098

 
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