A Brief History of EVT
- February 19th 2014
Efficient Velo Tools (EVT), designs, manufactures and distributes its own line of US made industrial-style bicycle shop tools. The tools reflect precision, workmanship and ruggedness simply not found in competitors’ products.
EVT was established in 1999 by Brett Flemming. Brett started his bicycle industry career in 1979 at the age of 17 as a mechanic at Albrecht Cycle Shop in Sioux City, IA. By 1998 Brett was the General Service Manager at Bike Gallery in Portland, OR. With 35 mechanics under his supervision, Brett had become a master mechanic and a hobby shop machinist. Brett used his metal machining and welding skills to support the bicycle service department by making shims, bushings, small hard-to-find parts and his first marketed shop tool, the “Offset Velo Clamp” among other things.
Bike Gallery has a policy that mechanics are to own their own tools, which they support with an annual stipend—a contrast to the more common practice of shops providing the tools to their mechanics. Brett decided if he was going to put money into bicycle tools, he wasn’t going to buy tools that were simply—to his eyes and sense of touch—inadequate. In the beginning, Brett tried to get the attention of the leading industry toolmakers with his “Offset Velo Clamp,” and the knowledge that bicycles being clamped by their frame tubes was an obsolete idea. His input fell on deaf ears. Undeterred, he decided to design and build his own tools, better tools. With this goal in mind as a hobby-machinist in 1999, Brett became serious about his hobby and embarked on a journey to become the accomplished machinist he is today. With his position in one of the busiest bicycle service operations in the industry, Brett had a perfect test bed for this new brand of tooling.
In 2003 Brett went to Japan as a member of the Shimano Leadership Development Program via Bike Gallery and visited the factories and facilities of Shimano Industrial Corporation. There he developed relationships with Shimano engineers, including Yas Nakamura, the inventor of Hyperglide technology. Brett’s fascination with factories hit a new high and his efforts to collect enough tooling to build his own factory escalated.
In 2004 Brett was hired by Quality Bike Parts (QBP) to present seminars at their Frostbike event. Since 2005 Brett has been delivering “Super Seminars” for the National Bicycle Dealers Association (NBDA), and annually hosts one of the most attended seminars at Interbike. Brett regularly provides shop consulting services to bike shops wanting to increase the profitability and efficiency of their service departments.
By 2007 Brett had acquired an extensive home based machine shop which had outgrown his garage. He added a 400 square foot mini-factory onto the side of his suburban Vancouver, WA home. Brett’s tool business was now in full swing and the demand for his tooling made it possible to hire his first part-time employee. Brett’s burgeoning machine tool collection filled his new shop as well as a few large storage units. He was actively collecting tools for the future EVT factory.
As a result of the relationship with Shimano, in 2008 Brett worked under contract with their tool program. At this time he designed and patented the Shimano TL-RD11 Dropout Alignment Tool. The EVT version of the tool is the Ultra Tru-Arc Derailleur Alignment Gauge.
In 2013, EVT moved to a 2500 square foot factory space in Portland, OR. Now EVT has one full time employee, as well as several part-timers. Certain components machined for EVT by local Portland-area job shops. None of the tools are made offshore; rather, the skilled EVT team personally hand-build, fit and test nearly every part of every tool.