Hayden Stearman, 17, is a longtime cyclist. Now he also is a bike mechanic.
In March, after repairing a couple of bikes for a family friend, Stearman opened his own bicycle repair shop, Union Cycle Werks.
The idea sprang to life after taking a business development and marketing class at the St. Vrain Valley School District Innovation Center, in which students made a business plan.
“My initial goal for this was to become a real force for good within the community and try to promote biking at all levels but really push for better biking infrastructure and commuting by bike,” said Stearman, a senior at Skyline High School. “Just to promote a healthier and better Longmont.”
More than 10 months ago, when the coronavirus pandemic began its grip on the country, many people were scrambling to find family friendly outdoor activities to ease the feelings of isolation after many schools and businesses moved operations online.
Michael and Lynn Helmstetter were among those people and they realized their family bikes were in need of repair. After some consideration, they got in touch with Stearman, knowing he did his own bike maintenance, Michael Helmstetter said.
At first, Stearman was going to just tell the Helmstetters what their bikes needed so they would know what to expect from a visit to a bike shop. They ended up being Stearman’s first customers. And Union Cycle Werks was born.
“He’s just very thorough, and he’s got a lot of integrity,” Michael Helmstetter said.
Stearman picked up the bikes and took them to be repaired, Michael Helmstetter said. The reconditioning process took a couple of weeks and the bikes haven’t needed a repair since.
“It’s really cool to see someone who’s 17 and entrepreneurial,” Michael Helmstetter said, “It’s not all that common to see someone of that age be as responsible and act with a lot of integrity and know how to treat customers.”
Stearman not only fixed the Helmstetters’ bikes, he also sent them with a bag of items to help prolong the life of their tires and chains.
After fixing bikes for several friends, Stearman decided to work on branding with a name, a logo and an Instagram page.
He decided the bike repair business would be a “really cool job” during the pandemic, which was limiting his options for employment.
Most of his business has been through word of mouth. However, at the end of the summer, Stearman connected with Boulder County Trip Tracker, which “encourages school communities to reduce motor vehicle traffic around schools.” That connection led to his being featured in the Trip Tracker Newsletter.
As of Thursday, Stearman’s Union Cycle Werks Instagram page had 50 followers and he had serviced bikes for 11 customers. He intends to continue his work for the foreseeable future.
“Through my company, I really want to focus on promoting a sustainable and bike-friendly community and focus on making biking accessible to all people for both enjoyment, as well as a means of transportation and connecting communities through biking,” Stearman said.
Correction: Sterarman has serviced bikes for 11 customers, not 11 bikes. That information was incorrect in the original posting of this story.