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May 31, 2016
May 31, 2016
Courtney Whitinger has been working with bikes for more than 20 years. He works as a bike assembly specialist, and builds Shinola bikes in the shop located in the back of our Detroit store. Learn more about him in the interview below.
Catch fellow bike assembly specialist Alex Schekine's interview, here.
What were you doing before you started working for Shinola?
I worked on and off in bicycle retail stores for 22 years, and that’s actually how I met Alex back in the ‘90s. We worked at the same bicycle company. In addition to Shinola, I work as a videographer for the Tigers, the Red Wings, the Lions, and other freelance projects.
What kind of bike rider are you?
I’m a recreational rider. I used to ride bicycles a lot more frequently. Mountain biking. And I started getting so many jobs, and old, and not enough time anymore. It was strictly recreational. Alex was a racer. He was a lot more involved in cycling. I did it more for fun.
I’ve got six different bikes at home. I do not own a Shinola yet. In the summertime we’ll go to lunch or we have shop rides that we’ll do from here, and then I’ll borrow a Shinola bike to ride.
What makes Shinola bikes different?
The bikes are really like no other bike out on the market. They’re very unique, kind of traditional style bicycles. I think a lot of sales we’ve gotten just from people saying, “that would look great hanging in my office, I’d never ride it, but it’s kind of a piece of art.” But then when they actually give it a test ride they realize that it’s also an awesome ride. These bikes are unique because they are put together thoughtfully by hand, almost like art.
A look inside the Detroit store where Courtney helps hand assemble every bike.
What is your favorite part of the job?
In the Spring and summer we get a lot more test rides through, and I always look forward to getting a bicycle ready for a customer to take out on a nice day and go for a good ride. Getting their response from it is the best. It’s not like a bicycle store where people are coming in specifically to buy a bicycle. It seems like many of the customers here aren’t even sure that we make bicycles.
I spent so many years in a retail bicycle store that I love how it is at Shinola— it’s very different than a retail bicycle store. It’s nice just dealing with bicycles, and knowing that I’ve laid hands on every bicycle that’s left this building. I’m proud of that.
What sort of changes have you noticed in Detroit in the past few years?
Traffic. On the weekends there is so much foot traffic and cars everywhere. It seems like that’s just happened within the last few years — more and more and people are going downtown for things and it feels like a real city.
This interview is part of a new series called JOBS that highlights the people that make Shinola tick. Find their stories here on The Journal or on our Jobs page.
Nearly all of Shinola Products are Built in the US with US or Imported Parts