Bicycling brothers Jacob and Leibel Lefkowitz saw an opportunity for a business. In their Brooklyn neighborhood, traveling by car presented a variety of difficulties, and many people opted for bicycles. But for many people in this area, cycling was more than a hobby or convenience, it was a passion and a sport. The Lefkowitz brothers opened the doors of Bike Ahead in 2013 in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn and immediately saw their business take off.
As time went on, they needed more space to meet customer demand. With orders being shipped throughout the United States as well as internationally—Canada, Australia, France, Germany, New Zealand, Sweden and the UK are part of their growing online customer base—they rented more space around New York. But they knew it was necessary to permanently move to a larger location. “When we outgrew locations in Brooklyn, we faced a strategic decision: continue paying rent on three locations in New York, or combine into a larger, yet lower-cost warehouse in New Jersey,” Leib Lefkowitz said.
They applied for a small-business loan through the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s (EDA) Premier Lender Program to support the purchase of a new, 33,000-square-foot warehouse in Totowa, in Passaic County, to house their operations. Through the program, Bike Ahead obtained a $1.89 million loan from Two River Community Bank that included a 30 percent EDA participation. “People warned us that it would be a difficult process, but we found it very smooth and easy to work with,” Leib said. This warehouse allowed Bike Ahead to keep its store open to the public in Brooklyn, but fulfill their online orders from the Totowa location.
The NJ EDA looks for more opportunities to help small businesses in the way they assisted the Lefkowitz brothers. As part of their program aimed to create awareness of the services provided to help small businesses, EDA President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Lizura visited Bike Ahead’s warehouse on November 29. The goal was to talk to people interested in applying for small-business loans, and to teach them how to utilize services at their disposal, such as social media, print and digital materials and financing resources.
Lefkowitz, too, was there to discuss how his business benefited from the assistance of the EDA and continues to expand thanks to their resources.
Bike Ahead continues to be an active part of the community give-back through their store. They have been sponsors of Bike4Chai where they provided the mechanics for the cyclists, as well as BikeMS, an international organization fundraising for multiple sclerosis research.
To learn about EDA resources for small businesses and not-for-profits, visit http://www.njeda.com/small_midsize_business and follow @NJEDAWasHere on Twitter and LinkedIn.
For any cycling enthusiasts, be sure to check out Leibel and Jacob’s website, www.bikeahead.com and www.broadwayproscooters.com. Just a piece of information for anyone in the market for a new bicycle: The bike itself can only be purchased from a brick and mortar store, and not ordered online, per the manufacturer’s terms. The website has a variety of accessories and sporting gear to create the best bike ride yet.
By Jenny Gans