A chat with Max Kirchoff quickly reveals his motivations for starting Trees by Bike. In his own words, “It’s all about being jolly, cheerful and loving with the people around you.” Max delights in getting a glimpse of that “Christmas morning freak-out” when kids see him bringing their tree and the parents getting excited in seeing their kids. The term “chain reaction” seems an appropriate pun. These brief and powerful exchanges bring him close in heart with his own family and help him remember his childhood during this time of year. The idea to use bikes was more circumstantial than anything else. “That’s how we happen to get around, so it was just natural to use bikes,” says Kirchoff.
Max founded Trees by Bike last year with life partner Christina Collada as a seasonal project with a social and emotional mission. The idea was to provide a fun way for friends and others to make a little extra money during their financial slow season while bringing cheer to the community. It’s also a way for the team to raise money for Project Grow, an organization serving people with developmental challenges. Some of the riders refuse payment for delivering the trees, opting instead for their pay to go directly to Project Grow. Trees by Bike donates 10% of gross sales proceeds.
The group of “Yule Riders” delivered about 40 trees last year. Max expects to deliver 100 this year and will order more if needed. As of December 7th, they had already delivered 40 trees, so they are well on their way to hitting their goal. In 3-5 years, Max envisions the business supporting a full-time manager, employing many more Yule Riders and serving more communities.
There has been a lot of excitement around what Trees by Bike are doing. Yesterday, there was a nice front page spot in The Oregonian’s Metro section. You can read Candice Ruud’s nice story on OregonLive.com. (Candice is a fall intern with The Oregonian and a Senior at Oregon State University — my alma mater, yeehaw!). When I tell people about our own bicycle delivery business, I sometimes hear, “Oh, have you heard about that group who is delivering Christmas trees?” People love it. It’s great.
Max is a super interesting guy. He graduated with a philosophy degree, is a professional web developer and likes wine making (it’s a nice benefit that Christina’s family has a vineyard). We met by chance last week at BikeCraft and I found him to be jolly indeed. Trees by Bike is a natural of expression of Max as a person.
When asked about challenges for the business, Max told me these mostly stem from him being a perfectionist. He sometimes gets terrified about ruining someone’s Christmas if they don’t like their tree. Christina keeps him grounded and reminds him to breathe and to know that he is not about to ruin anyone’s day.
For those of you who already have a tree, keep these cats in mind for next year. If you’ve yet to get your tree for your home or workplace, Trees by Bike wants to be your one stop order and delivery option. They also deliver Chanukah candles donated this year by Congregation Beth Israel. Visit the Trees by Bike website and place your order now. They get very busy. You’ll feel as good as a Yule Rider does when your tree or candles arrive.