Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on February 4th, 2011 at 10:42 am
Joshua de Parrie is The Bicycle Plumber. Fresh out of a four-year apprenticeship to get his professional plumbing contractor license, the 38 year old native of Southeast Portland is already completing jobs around town, using a Kona Ute longtail bike, a cargo trailer and his own power to cart around tools and supplies.
de Parrie told me this morning that he's "never really been that into cars" and that he didn't get his driver's license until he was in his mid-20s. He started his business, St. Francis Plumbing, about two months ago and — while he has a truck that he'll use if he has to — he's tailored the geographic range of his clients and the scope of his jobs based on what he can carry by bike.
"One of the main things I love about what I do is that it puts me directly in touch with the bike community... These are the people I'm working for."
de Parrie recently completed a job for Cafe Velo, another local-based bike business that got its start selling drip-to-order coffee from a Dutch cargo trike and has recently opened a bricks-and-mortar cafe downtown. "I replaced the waste drains for their sinks when they were leaking," de Parrie says.
As for the connection to Saint Francis (in his name and his logo), de Parries says he's always admired his "persona." "He was an enigmatic figure like Jesus or Buddha... I just really like the simplicity of life he presented... One of my favorite quotes of his is, 'Preach the gospel, and when necessary use words'." And, de Parrie adds, "Oh, and I love the artwork too!"
St. Francis Plumbing is just one of a growing legion of Portland small businesses who are choosing to use bicycles as their primary work vehicles. de Parrie hopes the trend continues to catch on. "I would love it if other people who own similar businesses would do the same thing. Please, steal my idea!"