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Making bicycles live forever

Veronica Whitney
Preston Utley/Vail DailyArtist and founder of Resource Revival Graham Bergh creates useful art out of discarded materials.
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EDWARDS – A coffee table made out of bicycle wheel rims and cogs. A picture frame made with bicycles chains. Tea light holders made from bicycle freewheel cogs and cores. Chain bracelets and valve core earrings. There’s a lot inventor and recycler Graham Bergh can do with an old bicycle that’s heading to the trash.When Bergh, 38, the son of Edwards resident Peter Bergh, found out years ago that the average bike shop threw away about a 1,000 inner tubes a year, he began a crusade to recycle bike parts. In 1991, he founded Resource Revival, which recycles abut 30,000 pounds of used bike parts and turns them into tables, picture frames, key chains, bottle openers, clocks, candle holders and ornaments. “The idea came up when I got a flat tire riding my bicycle to work 10 years ago,” said Bergh, who lives in Mosier, Ore., one hour away from Portland, with his 3-year-old son, Tabor. “Recycling was just starting to happen when I left college and I thought I can come up with something to do with all the materials available. It was an interesting challenge. It was good timing. There were a couple companies that were doing similar stuff with other materials and they inspired me.” From frog to princeYears later, Bergh who started shipping his first products from his home, put together a team of artists, designers and customer service people recycling thousands of pounds of used parts and shipping to customers all over the world. “We knew we were on to something when in 1996 our products were picked up by the Whitney and Guggenheim Museums stores in New York City,” Bergh said.By 2000, with sales increasing rapidly, Resource Revival’s customer list included Nike, The Nature Company, Bloomingdales and hundreds of smaller stores.These days, their largest client is New Belgium Brewing out of Fort Collins.”There is a relation between bikers and beer,” Bergh said. “Every biker of a drinking age should carry one of our bottle openers.”

The company started with one product, now it offers 35. “More and more we’re doing sales for somebody who is going to put a logo and use it as a promotion or as an award for a business which recycled in a certain city,” Bergh said.Community partnershipWhen he started his business, Bergh was going to bike shops and digging out bike parts from their trash.Since 1999, Bergh’s biggest supplier of parts is a nonprofit from Portland called The Community Cycling Center, which works with children. “People donate bikes and they fix bikes,” Bergh said. “The kids strip the bikes off; we pay them and they can buy their own bikes.”Resource Revival pays $1 per pound for bicycle gears of all kinds: chain-rings, cassettes, freewheels and loose cogs and 50 cents per pound for bicycle chains, Bergh said.”Grease is OK, but no rust,” he added. Once the parts arrive in Mosier, they get cleaned up in a system that looks like a big dishwasher. “It keeps off all the grease,” he said. “Then we tumbled them and depending on what finish we want to give each piece we tumble them on different materials.”

After 10 years in Portland, Resource Revival moved in the summer 70 miles east to a 10-acre farm in Mosier with views of snow capped volcanoes and the Columbia River Gorge. The farm now houses Bergh, the design and production studio and warehouses. Although they expanded years ago to other recyclable stuff – auto parts, wood, computer parts – Bergh said the company will now focus on just bicycle parts.”We don’t need to do auto parts. Our marketing will stay tight to bikes, this is a focused message. There’s 95 million bicycle enthusiasts in the country,” he added. In the meantime, while he worries about the environment and his 3-year-old son, Bergh plans to expand his business.”Currently, we sell to 12 bike shops out of 7,000 in the country,” he said. “The goal is to get to 120 shops next year and to be in half of the bike shops in the country within five years.”Bergh’s respect for the environment comes from his family, he said. His father, Peter Bergh, a landscape architect and a member of the Eagle Valley Land Trust board of directors, has also helped to develop trails and community parks in Singletree, where he served as president of the metro board. “It’s the ethic, but I believe it’s so logical not to use up what we have,” Bergh said. “More and more people are being smart and manufacturers such as Nike are using organic cotton, which is grown without pesticides.”When people buy anything, they should consider if there is a sustainable alternative, Bergh said.”Consuming organic food, buying less stuff,” he said. “If you’re buying a new television take responsibility for what you’re getting rid of. You can donate your old TV to the Goodwill. It’s so easy to donate.”Staff Writer Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454 or vwhitney@vaildaily.com.



AT A GLANCEGetting your bike fixOn the Web: http://www.resourcerevival.com1-800-866-8823Vail, Colorado


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