March 5, 2010 in City

Company offers deal on wheels to its workers

Mountain Gear seeks to inspire healthy habits
By The Spokesman-Review
Jesse Tinsley photo

Brandon Englund, left, and Petey Creighton talk about their new bikes outside the headquarters of Mountain Gear, their employer, Tuesday. A total of 22 people bought bikes for
(Full-size photo)

Map of this story's location

Mountain Gear President Paul Fish made 22 people happy this week; each of them now has a shiny Trek bike purchased through the company.

As he did last year, Fish arranged for a group purchase of new bikes to help his workers stay healthy and commute without relying on fossil fuel.

The 22 bikes were handed out Tuesday at the company’s headquarters in Spokane Valley. The business provides the bikes at a modest discount, and the employees agree to pay off a no-interest loan over eight months.

Fish said the program promotes two-wheel commuting, but it also shows his workers that they have a key role in shaping the firm’s green goals and policies.

Several other companies across the country are offering similar bike-purchase deals for workers. The idea stemmed from a wellness committee survey that found many Mountain Gear staffers wanted a bicycle benefit.

“They said, ‘If you could find a way to help us get good inexpensive bikes, it would be easier to commute,’ ” Fish said.

In 2009 Fish offered the option to his workers and got 18 takers.

This year Fish got 22 interested riders. The company also extended the offer to spouses of Mountain Gear workers.

Last year the purchase went through a national bike seller. This year Fish bought locally, from Michael Conley, owner of North Division Bicycle Shop.

“A year ago it was mostly the avid bikers who took advantage,” Fish said. This year the group is a wider cross-section of workers, he added.

Tuesday afternoon, after a group photo session with the new bikes, workers took them outside for test spins.

Doris Ames, Mountain Gear’s human resources director, ordered a Trek street cruiser that retails for around $400. Painted bright canary yellow and royal blue, it was “the cutest bike here today,” Ames said.

“The last time I had a bike like this, I was a young girl,” Ames said. She got it, in part, to go riding with her 6-year-old granddaughter.

Looking over her new Pilot, a Trek touring bike, was Lisa Barrett. She’s married to Eric Barrett, who works at Mountain Gear.

She works at Cesium Networks near downtown Spokane, and hopes to ride to work a few times per week.

“We’re lucky to live in a city that is becoming more and more bike commuter friendly,” Barrett said.

Fish said the program will continue as long as workers want it to.

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