It all started at the University of Minnesota’s Campus Security. As Rolf Scholtz and his brother Derk used to patrol the Twin Cities Campus, they would notice how unappealing and dysfunctional the bike racks were – as far as they could tell, the market for aesthetically appealing, U-lock compatible bike racks was wide open. After spending some time out of college in an economic development position, Rolf, along with his artistically inclined brother started Dero Bike Racks, now at 2657 32nd Ave S. And since 1995, they have been producing racks that are shipped all across the country as well as other parts of the world.
The foundation of Dero’s work is based on functionality and artistic appeal: all Dero racks are U-lock compatible, so users are assured that their bikes are safe; and all Dero racks are aesthetically attractive, so architects and planners can integrate them as visible aspects of their designs.
Dero Bike Racks is also firmly rooted in the community. The original office was located at Seven Corners, directly above Bullwinkle’s Saloon and warehousing located in Phillips. The company’s first real break was when they worked with Uptown to do one of the nation’s first large-scale artistic bike rack installation. From there, Dero landed contracts with the City of Honolulu and the University of Minnesota as the business began to really take off. But even as they grew, Dero stayed in Minneapolis, first moving to Prospect Park and later to their current facility in Seward.
In 2003, Hans Steege joined the Dero team. One year later, was when they moved to Seward. Rolf told me that they were ready and almost signed a lease in another neighborhood when he noticed the building on 32nd Avenue while out walking his dog (both Rolf and Hans are long-time Seward residents). After moving into the neighborhood, Dero invested in their own equipment. Until then, racks had been finshed and packaged offsite. Within the first month, sales went up 25 percent. Their leap of faith paid off because they were then able to control quality throughout the entire process and ensure that everything went out properly.
Quality control and exceptional customer service are what make Dero so successful. They are willing to work with any customer, no matter the size project, to develop exactly what they need. For example, when working with the University of Minnesota, Dero came up with a customized rack that fit the specific project. Dero now offers what was originally customized as a regular product.
Most recently, Dero installed the beautiful custom Seward bike racks that are now scattered throughout the neighborhood. They also donated the temporary bike racks used in Washington D.C. for the Presidential Inuaguration and just last month, they were contracted to install bike racks throughout the City of Dubai.
Years in Seward: 5
Employees: 18 (24 including the dogs)
Megan Sheridan, staff of Seward Redesign working with Seward Civic and Commerce Association. reprinted with permission from the Seward Civic and Commerce Association October 2009 Newsletter