How ProdecoTech Found Its Groove
By Bill Moore
Virtually all electric bicycles are manufactured and assembled offshore. Only a mere handful of companies assemble theirs in the United States. One of those is Oakland Park, Florida-based ProdecoTech and we sit down with its co-founder and VP for Business Development, Dan Del Aquila, during Interbike 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
One of the key lessons you learn from Charles Mann's 1493, is that the impact of trade with Asia on local industry dates back well over four centuries. When a lumbering, slow-moving galleon six harrowing months to cross the Pacific from the Philippines, have its cargo of fine silk, spices and porcelain carried by mules across central Mexico to the Caribbean, and then again by sea to Spain in another four to six month voyage, and still be cheaper than the same goods made by craftsmen in Europe, the world shouldn't be surprised that the same thing would happen again in the late 20th century and now into the 21st.
In the case of the bicycle industry, in general, and the rapidly growing electric bike segment, in particular, virtually every component, if not the entire bike is made in Asia: predominately Taiwan and increasingly China and Vietnam. The design of the bike, the selection of the components, the marketing and dealer support may be US-based, but with few exceptions, most two-wheelers carry a "Made In China" stamp somewhere.
The one possible exception is ProdecoTech, based in Oakland Park, Florida. While they, like pretty much everyone else, source their components from Asia, the actual assembly of their 23 different models on nine different frames is done in the U.S.A.
According to Dan Del Aquila, the co-founder and Vice President for Business Development, the reason was straightforward: they wanted to better control the quality of their product. As he explains in this somewhat impromptu interview at Interbike 2014, controlling quality was something they felt they couldn't do by simply being a distributor of finished goods with their company name printed on the cardboard shipping box or stenciled on the frame of their bikes.
If you ranked U.S. electric bike 'makers', Prodeco Tech would likely be number three, behind leaders Currie Technologies and Pedego, one and two, respectively. For the moment, they are unique in the American e-bike market in that all of their bikes are assembled at their facility in south Florida. True, most of their components, from frames to fenders, come from Asia, it is American technicians who put the pieces together - some 60+ bikes a day at the current production rate - and test them before sending them out to dealers and customers. And in the case of their newest model, the Scorpian the frame now comes from a U.S. firm located in Washington state.
Unlike competitor Pedego, which tends to focus on the Baby Boomers, ProdecoTech's focus is on Millennials or Gen Y. Their design philosophy reflects this.
Del Aquila talks about the market for e-bikes, both in the United States and Europe, where he and others with whom EV World spoke, see being some five years ahead of the USA in adoption of the technology.
Learn what's on the mind of one of America's leading e-bike makers in this nearly 20-minute interview.
Originally published: 27 Sep 2014
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