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Fitzpatrick & Weller, Inc.

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Fitzpatrick & Weller
Fitzpatrick & Weller

Fitzpatrick & Weller
12 Mill Street
P.O.Box 490
Ellicottville, New York 14731
Phone 716-699-2393
Fax 716-699-2893
websales@fitzweller.com

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Nov 29

Written by: Fitzweller Administrator
11/29/2010 10:32 AM 

SANTA CRUZ, CA -- A small-scale factory that machines bamboo into bicycle frames in Lusaka, Zambia, is among finalists this month in a global competition sponsored by the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC).

Though intended primarily for sale in Zambia and neighboring African nations, the Zambikes caught the attention of Santa Cruz, CA, bike designer Craig Calfee, who is helping the business with export logistics.

Seen as "earth-friendly," the bicycles make practical use of the lightweight, rapidly growing bamboo.The wood is soaked in a preservative for 24 hours, then kiln-dried before it is precision machined in jigs. The bamboo frame components, bicycle “tubing,” is linked together with joints machined from a dark hardwood. Metal bearings and (other pieces) are drilled into the wood frames.

Calfee made his first bamboo bicycle frame in 1995, then spent 10 years improving the process to make the canes strong and durable. Calfee then began working with small workshops in the Zambia and three other African countries with the aim of creating profitable small businesses. 

The bikes sell locally, but Zambikes also exports to Europe and the United States, where there is a market for the increasingly high-quality and unique frames.

Zambikes became an official Zambian company in September 2007 with four founders and current directors: Gershom Sikaala, Mwewa Chikamba, Vaughn Spethmann, and Dustin McBride. With two Zambians and two U.S. citizens as directors, Zambikes believes it has the advantage of combining the strength of American business practices and Zambian understanding. After the first 300 bicycles were sold and distributed in 2007, the directors decided to purchase land, build a warehouse for assembly and production and double sales in 2008. Zambikes says it has the capacity to more than triple its sales and distribution around Zambia.

Zambikes says its  business model  within Zambia. Through a partnership with the U.S. non-profit organization, Acirfa (pronounced A-ker-fa), Zambikes  operates as a for-profit company in Zambia in order to benefit the surrounding communities. Zambikes is able to accomplish this through its training programs and the reinvestment of all year-end profits back into the company and surrounding community work.

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