Zak Pashak: The Canadian Re-Building America By Bicycle

Growing up in Calgary, Zak Pashak was always intrigued by the city’s infrastructure and the many modes of transportation moving through his “sprawling mass of a city.” Though most of his youth was spent in Canada, Zak was drawn to U.S. popular culture and influenced by performers like Eddie Murphy, the music coming from Detroit, and the American urban scene.

Growing up in Calgary, Zak Pashak was always intrigued by the city’s infrastructure and the many modes of transportation moving through his “sprawling mass of a city.” Though most of his youth was spent in Canada, Zak was drawn to U.S. popular culture and influenced by performers like Eddie Murphy, the music coming from Detroit, and the American urban scene. During his early 20’s, Zak earned a living by running music venues and festivals, and is known for starting the Sled Island Music & Arts Festival, which has gained a considerable amount of popularity and notoriety since it’s inception in 2007.

Despite his successful career in the music industry, Zak still had the urge to immerse himself in American culture and capitalism. Although he had taken many trips to Detroit to enjoy the music scene (the motherland, if you will), he soon realized that he had increasingly become even more invested in the politics of the city.

Through his own independent research, he learned about municipal politics and transportation policies. When he saw how desolate the “Motor City” of his childhood dreams had become, he knew he wanted to contribute to improving its economy. He believed that the city and the people were being ignored and many remained homeless and jobless because of the failing automotive industry.

Zak believed in the potential of the people and sought a 21st century remedy for Detroit’s industrial failure: Bicycles. He purchased a 50,000 square foot factory on Griswald St. in Detroit and turned it into a bustling bike factory, Detroit Bikes, with the capacity to turn out almost 100 bikes a day.

This year, Detroit Bikes announced that they will manufacture thousands of bikes for New Belgium Brewery, along with other custom manufacturing contracts. Pashak related that they recently entered into an agreement to be a supply chain partner for a major U.S. bike share provider. With this increased workload, Detroit Bikes continues to add additional positions to the factory, including welders, powder-coaters and bike assemblers. -KO

The attention to detail is remarkable especially when you consider it’s all made in one factory in Detroit. And the dust? Read our experiential report on the Detroit Bike A-Type.

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