Bike-powered business, urban freight delivery and local food production have come together in a very exciting way in Portland.
Today two local companies that have built strong niches hauling cargo with pedal power — B-Line and SoupCycle — announced they’ve joined forces. From now on B-Line’s electric-assist cargo trikes will distribute meals for SoupCycle, a company with over 600 customers throughout Portland.
It’s an intriguing collaboration that shows the maturity of Portland’s bike business ecosystem and it comes just days after the University of Washington debuted a new “Urban Freight Lab” in partnership with major retailers and shipping companies with an aim to make downtown deliveries more efficient and friendlier for humans and the environment.
For SoupCycle and B-Line, the move allows both of them to do more of what they do best.
SoupCycle started in 2008 when (former) owner Jed Lazar began cooking up delicious soups and delivering them by bike to “soupscribers” with his humble cargo trailer. The business took off as Lazar expanded his delivery territory (known as “souplandistan”) and hired more riders. Lazar sold the business to employee Nate Schlachter in 2014 and the company became certified as a B Corporation in 2016. In the past eight years they’ve delivered about 180,000 servings of organic soup, bread and salad.
B-Line, also a B Corporation, got rolling in 2009 and immediately saw themselves as much more than just a human-powered delivery company. The company employs 18 people — 15 of whom pedal the large trikes (that also serve as advertising vehicles via the billboards on all sides) to clients in the central city. It’s a much more humane way than motorized trucks and vans to solve the urban “last-mile” freight delivery challenge that Portland and many other cities face.
B-Line CEO Franklin Jones told us seven years ago that he wanted to, “Create a different type of city… a new model of distributing goods in urban areas.” Slowly but surely he has done just that.
It all came together when Jones moved B-Line into the The Redd, a collaborative space at Southeast 7th and Salmon streets in the Central Eastside devoted to boosting the local food economy by connecting farmers, chefs, and entrepreneurs. B-Line is the anchor tenant at The Redd and SoupCycle moved in this past summer. “By giving B-Line oversight of our distribution and logistics,” Schlachter said in a press release about the partnership, “we can focus on our core competency as a fresh food producer, and continue to grow by pursuing new business opportunities.”
Learn more about how pedal-power is playing a role in Portland’s local food ecosystem via The Redd’s website.
— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – firstname.lastname@example.org