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Rant against my local co-op

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Rant against my local co-op

Old 07-18-19, 07:05 PM
  #1  
Mad Honk 
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Rant against my local co-op

Today I have had a few responses from my local co-op members about an initiative from the local University who wants to donate about 500 bikes to them. They are complaining about having to work for the value they will receive. Should I just throw my hands up and walk away or try to beat some sense into them? Smiles, MH
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Old 07-18-19, 07:11 PM
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What do you mean by work for the value?

I guess those bikes are rusty abandoned heaps of trash they found on campus.
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Old 07-18-19, 07:20 PM
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So how much work does it take to decide which bikes out of say 500 are worth saving and which should go to the recycling center? The wheels are all of some kind of disarray but would take a few minutes to decide whether to keep or trash. Still, even if they trashed everything that came in they could realize about $2000 and it is something they don't want to do. Stoopid Dave logic going on here....

Herr KaLeun,
What happens on Campus regularly is every bike that is not registered with the University, is clipped and kept for 90 days. After that they are considered abandoned and put up for sale. Some are very high end bikes and a lot of middle of the road. And some useless junk. But all have a $ value even if $2.50 for scrap metal. What happens when they give me a $4500 carbon fibre bike they clipped? Most of these re not rusty abandoned bikes but use-able and sale-able bikes. Smiles, MH

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Old 07-18-19, 07:21 PM
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Maybe you can work it out so that the co-op sends some knowledgeable members over to mark what is worth receiving, and not get the useless junk as well?

Either that or indeed figuring out how to interface with a mixed metal scrap collector would be key before having them dumped on you.
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Old 07-18-19, 07:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Mad Honk View Post
So how much work does it take to decide which bikes out of say 500 are worth saving and which should go to the recycling center? The wheels are all of some kind of disarray but would take a few minutes to decide whether to keep or trash. Still, even if they trashed everything that came in they could realize about $2000 and it is something they don't want to do. Stoopid Dave logic going on here....
More then a few minutes, times 500. Then there's the time, effort and gas cost to transport 500 (minus a few I suppose) heaps to the recycling center and whatever they didn't accept then to the refuse/landfill place too. Maybe the coop has other thoughts about how to spend their time? And if it was so easy to clear $2000 why doesn't the university do the work and then get the donation tax credit? Andy.
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Old 07-18-19, 07:34 PM
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Managing volunteers is tricky. Most volunteers buy-into the organization's agenda when they join; most do not like other outside agendas pushed on them.
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Old 07-18-19, 07:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
And if it was so easy to clear $2000 why doesn't the university do the work and then get the donation tax credit? Andy.
I'm thinking they do get a donation tax credit with zero work.
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Old 07-18-19, 07:49 PM
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...when I worked for the co-op here, for a few years I was the guy in charge of managing "donations". So I have some resaonable idea of what might be involved in accepting this number of bikes in various condition and of various quality.

The junk bikes (of which there will be many) are a loser from the getgo. Scrap value will not cover your costs of transportation and the labor of disassembly (All the scrap places here want the metals sorted...so the alloy has to come off the steel, tires need to be pulled and trashed, etc, etc.)

The "high end" bikes that get seized by the campus cops only rarely go unclaimed. I used to turn down donations all the time if we did not have the space to handle them. It's just a sad fact of running a non profit staffed by volunteers that you can't always do large projects like this one.
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Old 07-18-19, 07:52 PM
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Our local co-op would do that in a heartbeat. That's their lifeblood. There's always a shortage of bikes going out the door. Every org is different.
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Old 07-18-19, 07:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Lucillle View Post
I'm thinking they do get a donation tax credit with zero work.
Hence their not wanting to do anything but see the bikes gone. The coop sees this offer as costing many man hours, car/truck loads here and there and not amounting to much actual $ gained.

Steel is around $.04 per pound these days (and this often means sorted and rid of other materials to taint the batch). If half the $2000 of claimed recycling value was steel (frames, components) the it will take about 25,000 pounds of steel to gain $1000. If each bike has 20 lbs of steel in them then that means about 1250 bikes will be needed.

Perhaps Mad Honk has never done this sort of stuff and is holding their dreams higher then the realities will support. Andy
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Old 07-18-19, 08:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
More then a few minutes, times 500. Then there's the time, effort and gas cost to transport 500 (minus a few I suppose) heaps to the recycling center and whatever they didn't accept then to the refuse/landfill place too. Maybe the coop has other thoughts about how to spend their time? And if it was so easy to clear $2000 why doesn't the university do the work and then get the donation tax credit? Andy.
Andy,
The university isn't in it so much as they would like the free press for doing a solid for the community. Quite honestly the money is easy to figure, but there is the chance that a great bike will come out of the junk. But the work involved would be minimal to the co-op. Again just a rant!











a
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Old 07-18-19, 08:09 PM
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Andrew,
I am actively involved in the steel recycling business. "21" steel is very low paying at this time, but it still pays something, and it is more than the cost of transportation. When we do 21 steel it doesn't matter what is on the bikes or frames. We are currently getting close to $.10 per pound for 21. And it could go up, but still better than nothing for free donations.
I guess I should take offense that I don't know what I am doing with this offer from the University, but I could use my time and sort through the junk and only give the cherry picked items to the co-op for their use. It would take a lot of my time and I would wonder if the co-op would see the value in that. But I could realize more than your theoretical $1000 in the deal. in doing so. Again I am ranting about the lack of foresight in my co-op. Walking away is the easy answer... MH





Smiles, MH

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Old 07-18-19, 09:13 PM
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If your peers don't see the genius in your plan, why not create your own coop and take those 500 bikes?

Admittedly I know no details about your situation. But I see the coop here and they have tons of worthless junkbikes all over that I'm sure they got donated and at some point thought they can use and sell easily.

I assume the university doesn't allow cherry picking out the good bikes. They don't want to give away the 50 semi decent bikes and be stuck with 450 rusted Walmart bikes.

Like the saying goes. My most expensive bike is the one I got for free.

I think the only way to make money is to have usable bikes they can sell and can restore with free parts. The metal value doesn't even cover trucking. If for example a regular pickup truck can hold 10 scrap bikes, it only can drive 10 miles to break even assuming each bike yields $1 in scrap metal. Total waste of time.
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Old 07-18-19, 09:22 PM
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Herr KaLuen,
The biggest part of a problem is that a state university is involved, I could normally do this with out a glitch but with the University the glitch comes in. So we are left with a standstill if the co-op doesn't come around to what the U is offering. Smiles, MH
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Old 07-19-19, 01:47 AM
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Negative utility.

It's actually possible for something to be worth less than nothing. In this case the University has 500 bicycles that they have no use for and the bikes are taking up storage space that they do have other uses for. If they can convince the co-op to take them off of their hands, they save the cost of having them hauled away. It's also possible for one person't trash to be another's treasure. The question is: what is the average value of the bikes to the co-op? Processing flips is one thing, what you do with the rest is something else. Ultimately, you need to have a plan for all 500 bikes.

What time and space assets do you need to process the bicycles? You may look at the co-op as being "free labor" but the workers need to get something, not necessarily money, in return for their effort or they will simply quit coming back. I'm thinking that unless you have unused storage space for 500 bicycles you may just be converting the Universities junk storage problem into your junk storage problem.
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Old 07-19-19, 02:08 AM
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While our operation is not a co-op, it is all for charitable groups and local schools. Our life blood are donations like this but on a smaller scale, like 10-20 bikes at a time from a large condo association.

Yes there are rusters but even every ruster has usable parts that are salvaged from bikes that are not economically repairable.

The scrape metals sre sold to help cover costs of buying new parts.

Without this influx of bicycles we would not be able to help those all in need.

That being said, I would have a real hard time being able to accept 500 bikes at one clip and limited storage facilities. Our whole county is only about 100,000 people
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Old 07-19-19, 02:09 AM
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Scenario 1:

You have practically zero income and need a bicycle.
In that case, it's worth going over dozen bicycles, trying to make one decent, working one out of them - picking parts, mix-matching.

Scenario 2:
You have practically zero income and no other means of getting it.
In that case, it's also worth making at least a few bikes that work and can be sold out of all the trashed ones.

Scenario 3:
You actually are earning some money.
In that case, you can do it as a hobby / extra work.
But for it to be more "financially reasonable", it boils down to estimated income of re-selling the bikes, minus the cost in parts to make them work (if some parts are bought, either new or 2nd hand), then divide that with the number of estimated man-hours to haul all the bikes, fix them and sell them. If the number is higher than your current hourly rate - go for it, if you like.


All this if you have means to get the bikes delivered and stored without any extra costs. If that costs as well, it needs to be considered.

It might be worth looking over the bikes, before making any decisions - if it's possible to take a look. See what you're dealing with. If that's not possible - well, it's a "cat in a bag" as they say here. Rarely a profitable deal.
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Old 07-19-19, 05:46 AM
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As someone who has volunteered regularly with a couple of different co-ops over the last decade, I'll give a possible co-op perspective.

1) 500 bikes take up a lot of space. I don't know many co-ops that have that kind of space. Perhaps if you were to offer to provide a location to "host" the bikes where the co-op could come sort when labor is available, you'd get a more positive response. Or sort them down to the best 50 and only donate those.
Another option would be to ask the University to store them for a bit. Some universities will store collected bikes over the summer and then have a sale in the fall to incoming students. The co-op or a student organization would organize the sale, but wouldn't have to store the bikes.

2) I'm sure there are locations where the demand for used bikes is really high, but my experience is that there are far more people who want to get rid of bikes than there are who want to buy them, unless they are in ready-to-ride condition. Co-ops don't have the labor to fix up a large number of bikes into ready-to-ride condition, so the limiting factor is the fixing up, not the number of available bikes. The typical model is to sell or give away bikes that still need a little bit of work and provide the tools and instruction to help do that fixing. At least in that case, the work of fixing is focused on the specific bikes that people want, but it's still a bottleneck for getting bikes out the door.

A few co-ops are able to deal with the mismatch between supply and demand by shipping bikes overseas or partnering with organizations that do that. If you have the capacity to transport the 500 bikes, Working Bikes in Chicago is not too far from you, and they have such a program. They know what bikes are good for the local market and which are useful to folks overseas, and they have partners in recipient countries that take them. You might have better luck facilitating a donation to them rather than your local co-op.

In general, the best things you can do to help local co-ops is volunteer your time or buy bikes from them rather than donating bikes, unless your donations are in ready-to-ride condition or can be resold for at least a couple hundred dollars if fixed. Those few high dollar bikes that come in enable them to sell the less valuable ones at below market rates to people who need them for transportation. Given your experience with scrapping, perhaps you could volunteer to sort and transport scrap for the co-op once a month to help keep space available for ridable bikes?
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Old 07-19-19, 06:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Mad Honk View Post
... but I could use my time and sort through the junk and only give the cherry picked items to the co-op for their use. It would take a lot of my time ...
It would take a lot of the co-op's time too. Maybe it's time they don't have, or don't want to spend.
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Old 07-19-19, 07:13 AM
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I'm one of the guys who'd be complaining. When I work at the co-op, I look forward to mechanical challenges and working with the folks that need help with them. Sorting and stripping scrap metal is not rewarding work to me, and I'd grumble about it. I can spend an hour or so each day doing a few bikes anyway for the sake of the co-op, we all do. But c'mon, 500 bikes?

Our local sheriff gives us dozens of bikes every year or so, and that's hard enough. Usually there's not a single usable bike, and limited space to store garbage until we can get someone to haul them for scrap. Sure, it's worth the time and vehicle cost for someone, but just barely. The guy we usually get just ekes out a living at it. And we spend the time to strip and sort the aluminum for him, even pulling the brake bosses and all suspension bushings. That takes (pretty mindless) volunteer time. It's hard to find a volunteer to keep doing that for days at a time.

I think we all like to build things--that's rewarding--not tear them down for scrap.
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Old 07-19-19, 07:29 AM
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Can the coop negotiate to pick up only the bikes they want, and the University take the rest to recycle? They'd still get their press, you'd get free bikes.

No one should complain if all they're doing is picking out what they want. Even if it's just 10 bikes, what would be wrong with that?
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Old 07-19-19, 07:39 AM
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In this scenario the giver should never stipulate that to receive anything you have to take all their trash for them.

If that were the case, I'd tell them to throw it all in the trash also.

They should allow people to come and inspect what to take, and what to leave. Only taking the items of most value and needing the least work.

It's a big waste of time to play garbage man for someone else when you could either be helping others OR doing something for yourself.

I'm assuming maybe wrongly that is perhaps the issue here. That the people don't want to waste time pilfering through trash. I'd work on optimizing the work and at the same time tell people to buck up and do the work.
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Old 07-19-19, 07:42 AM
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Is there any source of used bikes worse than college campus rejects? BSOs stored outside for 3 or 4 years...
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Old 07-19-19, 07:47 AM
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Our county prosecutors office has 1700, one thousand seven hundred, bike that it wants to give us. We don't have room to store that many while we triage and decide what is worth fixing, what can have usable parts stripped, and what will be scraped. So they agreed to keep them and give them to us a little at a time. Everybody wins.
On the issue of 'too much work for the value', we have a segment of our customer base that needs low cost transportation, bikes in the $40 - $60 range. Huffy, Next, fill the bill, but many need lots of work and some parts to be safe to ride. So sometime a member will work for a few hours on a $50 bike. But we help the community, and that is the goal. As well a supporting our sponsor. We also get donations of better bike that need little work for which we put a higher price on. They fly out the door, so it balances out in the end.
BTW, we also get the 'abandoned' bikes from the local university, that has the initials of PU.
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Old 07-19-19, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Mad Honk View Post
Walking away is the easy answer... MH
So lets think about the difficult answer just for a minute here. Just throwing out some suggestions. Is there a way to break the gift into more manageable chunks, maybe 50 at a time, and see how that goes? Is there, or could there be, a co-op auxiliary group maybe comprised of local businesses or co-op family members that could make a 'work weekend' more palatable by providing bbq and pies, etc? Also, in my town, there are a fair number of businesses that receive labor in the form of 'community service' when local teens are sentenced. Could you get your co-op on that list and let these teens help with the scrap separating, leaving the skilled bike work for the co-op?
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