Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on April 22nd, 2020 at 9:50 am
Portland-based Chris King Precision Components has adhered to a rigorous earth-friendly ethic long before it was cool. The company that was founded in Santa Barbara California in 1976 and moved to a former coffee roasting plant in the northwest industrial district in 2003, has a holistic approach to business that has strived to put people and planet before profits from day one.
“Since Chris King founded the company in 1976 we have operated with two goals in mind; manufacture high quality bike parts in an environmentally responsible manner, and have those parts outperform and outlast the competition, staying on bikes and out of the landfill,” the company stated today, in an announcement that they’ve completed the certification process to become a B Corporation.
B Corps must go through a rigorous assessment by B Lab, the nonprofit that manages the certification process. The assessment involves a broad scope of social and environmental impacts instead of just the bottom-line financials. B Corps must have a positive benefit on their employees, community, and customers, while also making earth-friendly decisions about the raw materials they consume and the sources they use to attain them. The certification also forces companies to a level of transparency that makes them more accountable to the public.
What does Chris King Precision Components do to be worthy of B Corp status? Here are just a few things:
- To heat and cool their 73,000 square foot factory they’ve built a 3,000 “water mass loop” system that circulates water through the entire building. When one of the dozens of machines that make their famous headsets and hubs creates heat, the water loop system transfers it to a holding tank. The water mass is stored until the evening when it can be cooled by ambient air temperature and the cycle starts all over again the next morning. In winter, they take the heated water and redistribute it to all the offices. The system results in no need for air conditioning or heat for about two-thirds of the year and reduces the need during the coldest and warmest months.
- Chris King products are made to last forever (they come with a lifetime warranty) and they’re also fully serviceable. It’s the opposite of the rampant consumer culture and planned obsolescence that creates so much waste in our society.
- The aluminum and steel filings that are scraped away to make their products are captured and saved. The company then strains and separates all the cutting oils into a soup with the chips which are then smashed together into dense pucks. These pucks are more efficient to recycle and easier to transport.
- Steel and aluminum manufacturing requires vast amounts of cutting oil. Chris King Precision Components uses organic canola oil instead of tradition cutting fluid. The higher-grade oil can be used longer before it has to be changed (less waste), and is less irritating to workers who come in contact with it. They captures and strains the oil in a centrifuge which gives it an infinite lifespan. “This oil causes us to machine slower than a traditional cutting fluid,” the company says, “but we believe that the environmental benefits far outweigh the slower machining speed.”
- Chris King employees have a generous “commuter credit” program for employees who ride bikes, walk, or take the bus to work. These credits can be used for paid time off or to buy food at the company’s in-house cafe. As we reported in 2011, employees earned 216 days of paid time off just for biking to work and earned $27,846.95 in cafe credits.
Chris King Precision Components claims to be the first manufacturer in the bicycle industry to achieve the certification. “While we are joining over 3,000 Certified B Corporations, we are the first manufacturer in the bike industry to meet the rigorous standards. We hope to inspire other brands in the cycling industry to improve their processes and policies,” the company says.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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