Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Time in the saddle means time off work for local company

Posted by on June 10th, 2008 at 11:13 am

City Hall Bike Show and Art Exhibition

The man behind the company —
Chris King — at the City Hall
Bike Show in 2006.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Chris King Precision Components is a company that has built its reputation on going above and beyond.

From the first headset he made back in 1976, Chris King has proven that he sets his own standards and then keeps pushing them higher. But what many people don’t know about this privately held company is that King’s high standards go far beyond his products.

Their holistic approach to sustainability touches every aspect of their business — from their products to their people.

Take for instance the company’s approach to encouraging bike commuting. Chris King Precision Components has what might be the most comprehensive and aggressive encouragement program in the country.

Here’s a breakdown of what the company provides to its employees:

  • Secure, indoor parking for every employee as well as a dedicated entry way for bikes.
  • Contemporary locker room facilities for men and women with private shower stalls and changing areas.
  • Full size lockers for every employee. (These lockers were salvaged from an older building and reconfigured with a custom designed ventilation system. Air is constantly circulated and drawn from the lockers to keep clothes and towels dry and smelling fresh.)
  • Loaner bicycles, locks and lights available for checkout by any employee.
  • Route mapping advice and instruction from our commuting coordinator.
  • One-on-one meetings with all new hires to discuss transportation options and commuting strategies.

This is the latest design of a special-edition
t-shirt given to each employee who rides
to work at least eight times in
May or September.

All the above are offered year-round, but during two months out of the year, the company takes it up a notch.

During the BTA’s Bike Commute Challenge in September (which they’ve won the past two years) and during a similar, inter-industry challenge that coincides with National Bike Month in May, Chris King Precision Components offers even more incentives to leave the car at home — including paid time off.

Chris King employees that ride to work 100% of the time during (May or September) get two full days off. Those who ride to work 75% of the time get one-and-a-half days off, and even if an employee can only manage 50% of their trips by bike, they’ll get one day off.

That means riders commuting both months at 100% will receive four days of paid time off in addition to their allotted vacation time.

Selena from Chris King at the bike master plan ride

Selena Deckelmann is one of those
“happy, healthy” employees.

Chris King’s marketing manager Chris Distefano admits that “the financial impact of this program is significant,” and that each challenge month results in thousands of dollars paid by Chris King to his employees.

If you think Chris King isn’t a savvy business man for offering these perks — think again. “His return?”, Distefano says, “Happy, healthy employees.”

This past May alone, 81 vacation days were earned as part of the special bike commuter challenge. But employees didn’t just help themselves, their choice to ride instead of drive resulted in (based on 11,468 miles ridden):

  • $2,322.27 not spent on gasoline purchases
  • 1,627 car trips saved
  • Approximately 11,648 pounds of CO2 not produced
  • 501,315 calories burned

Those are impressive numbers and I hope this level of encouragement can be an inspiration to other companies.

Does your company offer special bike to work perks?

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  • Pete June 10, 2008 at 11:31 am

    Vernier Software & Technology in Beaverton is a great example of sustainability. Their Gold LEED-certified building is located next to the Millikan Way Max station (their employees get free annual passes), hosts ZipCar spots (employees get some subsidized time), and reserves the best spots for carpools and hybrid/alternative fuel cars. They have a sizable bike room with loaner bike and helmet, showers, and lockers. Employees don\’t get paid to bike-commute (many do), but I believe they get paid volunteer time for select charities. I consulted for them for the last few years and loved it – howdy to the several bikeportland regulars that work there!

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  • Bob_M June 10, 2008 at 11:46 am

    My company, David Evans adn Associates, Inc. has a very generous bicycle promotion program. We are an engineering, design and consulting firm on the west bank greenway trail. With about 300 employees we have secure indoor bike parking for 30 bikes. The regional manager has promised to give up his reserved parking space for another cage if demand warrants it. There are locker rooms and showers for men and women. A borrow bike set up with lock, helmet, fenders and blinky, elemental repair equipment on site (pump, tubes patches etc.) and best of all, the company pays each bike rider $6 per ride-day!! Management gets it.

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  • Martha R June 10, 2008 at 11:54 am

    Where do we send our resumes?

    Seriously, though, this strategy makes total sense. Happy, healthy employees take fewer sick days, have lower healthcare costs, and are less likely to go looking for a job elsewhere.

    My employer has shower rooms, but that\’s about it. The building owner prohibits bikes in the building, so we\’re stuck parking in the parking garage. It\’s covered and a bit better than an on-street rack, but far from ideal. This seems to be a common issue for downtown employees: the building owner\’s bike prohibition (understandably to protect carpeting) prevents the tenants from providing truly secure parking. Does anyone know of a good solution?

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  • Donald June 10, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    Can a grown man swoon over locker ventilation?

    In a word: Yes.

    Good on ya, CKPC (and others mentioned above).

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  • Bjorn June 10, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    A days off program doesn\’t have to cost an employer extra, although it may annoy some employees when it is implemented. Simply lower the vacation days of all employees by 1, and then give back 2 to any employee that rides or takes some form of alternative transportation for the whole month. If 1/2 of your employees participate then you have broken even…

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  • Austin Ramsland June 10, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    \”Their holistic approach to sustainability touches every aspect of their business — from their products to their people.\”

    I couldn\’t agree more. This isn\’t just sustainability, its deep sustainability. And I love how they don\’t brag about it or claim to be the greenest – they just do a good of a job as they can, and in doing so just happen to do it better than anyone else.

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  • Russell June 10, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    I\’d be interested in knowing how productive his employees are versus employees of similar companies. I read a research article a few months back suggesting that worker efficiency could be directly correlated to the perceived stress of their commute. So while there might be some monetary loss by such a program there also might be a massive gain by having more employees who work more efficiently and happily while they\’re at work.

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  • Tony Pereira June 10, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    My company encourages all employees to ride to work every day by offering long hours for low pay. They also provide me with secure indoor parking, bicycle parts at wholesale prices and at least one free bike every year from the prototype program. I wouldn\’t trade my job for the world.

    BTW, I buy a lot of parts from King and they are a pleasure to work with. It\’s great to have such a well run company here in town.

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  • Steve Hoyt-McBeth June 10, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    As a City of Portland employee, you can get paid $30/month for walking and/or biking 80% or more for that month. You can also choose (instead) a $30 transit benefit or a $30 carpool parking voucher.

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  • john June 10, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    i get paid $100 a month to ride my bike:
    $40 downtown car parking the company charges that i don\’t have to pay.
    $60 the money i get by selling my Tri-met ticket.

    $1200 a year !! thats like 4 or 5 new bicycles (err new to me at least) per year.

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  • Caroline June 10, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    When I bike-commute to Emanuel Hospital, I am privileged to park my bike in a cage with a sign that says \”for the lock combination call security at 37—.\” Inside the \”secure\” cage one can usually find a great assortment of bike parts, locks left on staples, and both crashed and destroyed bikes and bikes left behind by patients who somehow rode their bikes to the hospital while sick.

    I\’m totally going to look into asking Emanuel to install ventilated lockers.

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  • Jessica Roberts June 10, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    I had a conversation with Mark Fenton earlier this year. He said that a credit union in Florida had done as similar program where employees can earn additional vacation time by walking. According to them, the lost time was more than made up by a reduction in sick days taken. I wonder if Chris King has seen a similar result?

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  • Chuck June 10, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    every time I see an opening I even remotely qualify for, I always send CKPC my resume with fingers crossed.

    god I want to work for that company so bad, I can taste it, and this only makes it worse. some day, Chris King, some day…

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  • Dave June 10, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    Ventilated lockers. I\’ve fantasized that such a thing might exist, but dared not believe it could be true.

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  • E June 10, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    Wow that\’s awesome.

    At my office we have bike parking in the garage which is plentiful and pretty secure. We have showers, which I\’ve never used but then I don\’t sweat much. We get reimbursed for transit passes if we don\’t use a parking space. We get \”personal days\” instead of vacation or sick days, so if you\’re healthy then you get more vacation. It\’s not Chris King cool but it doesn\’t suck.

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  • Peter June 10, 2008 at 5:35 pm


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  • B June 10, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    I have a friend that worked at King for years and absolutely loved it.
    Way to set a great example!

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  • Jordan June 10, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    My job is to get paid riding bikes with kids all day long. How\’s that for encouraging bicycle use? I might even be fired for not commuting by bicycle enough.

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  • davidio June 10, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    Does anybody know if any bike shops offer incentives for bike commuting? Or is it just expected of them?

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  • mike_khad1 June 11, 2008 at 7:09 am

    My manager told me I was being unprofessional being the \”biker dude\” and that I should be schizophrenic with regard to bicycling. A Pacificorp version of \”Don\’t ask, don\’t tell\”

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  • Michelle June 11, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    Chris King\’s staff will be on a panel discussion at the Towards Car Free Cities Conference next week to discuss promoting biking at the workplace. If your company is looking into the same sorts of things or already has a program going, you should attend and contribute to the discussion.

    Thursday, June 19th, 4-5:30 pm, PSU Smith Union, Room 3.

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  • bicycler1951 June 11, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    I work for Garmin AT in Salem. Yes, the GPS company but our products go in small aircraft. If we ride a bike to work we have to ride on Turner Rd which is very narrow. It has deep ditches on each side to bail out in if you don\’t want to get hit by the rock trucks. When the reconstruction is finished we will have two showers for about 250 people. If your manager approves you can keep your bike in your office or cube. That\’s assuming you have one and the bike won\’t be a safety hazard or in the way. That\’s on the engineering side of the building. Since the only thing we production folks have for their own is a 1\’x1\’ locker (unventilated) we get to put our bikes out in the sun & rain at bike staples. Only one has been installed but we were promised three. This really wants to make me ride my nice road bike the 5 miles to work. One co-worker suggested I get a beater bike to ride to work so I suggested he get a Yugo or a Pinto to drive from Tualitan. He shut up quickly. I\’m glad I work for such a progressive and green company. ;o(

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  • Keith Walker June 11, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    My previous job was working for a big east coast city government.

    The annual cost for a mass transit pass was $116 per month. There were no alternative commute incentives.

    I now work for the City of Portland, and now I get the $30/month incentive for bicycling 80% of the time.

    The net pre tax savings is $1752/yr back in my pocket.

    The added money and exercise is nice, and my commute time is a bit shorter as well.

    Thank you Portland!

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  • mark June 11, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    my company\’s general manager said before we moved to our new building out in bike-unfriendly outer NW Industrial area: \”Some of you have said we need to get some sort of bike storage area built because I guess some of you apparently ride bikes to work??\” bike storage area? non-existant. tri-met passes or incentives to ride bikes to work? of course not.

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  • J.M. June 12, 2008 at 12:05 am

    \”My company encourages all employees to ride to work every day by offering long hours for low pay.\”

    Tony, expect my resume.

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  • David Feldman June 12, 2008 at 7:33 am

    I have a bike repair business in Vancouver and will be making a greater effort to push King products, knowing about this.

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  • Franky July 25, 2008 at 7:16 am

    Locker? Shower? Incentives? The only thing I get is suspicious looks from my co-workers. Consider yourself very lucky to work for such a company. Jersey sucks.

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