After 22 years as Durant City Manager, Paul Buntz is peddling bike parts on e-Bay. His "retirement" internet business, Blue River Bikes, offers parts for the serious bike rider developed from his own bike ridding passion.
Buntz told Tulsa Today, his specialty parts are for “road bikes” as different from off-road or racing bikes.
He began riding about five years ago and was always trying to upgrade his bike, to make it lighter and more durable. Starting a business targeting this market seemed like the natural thing to do. He just had a little problem. He needed to be able to purchase the parts directly from the manufacturer. He had done a lot of research on his own but he needed someone who had expertise in the field of importing and that brought him to Rural Enterprises of Oklahoma Inc. (REI) and a visit with Joy Rambo, REI’s International Trade Coordinator.
Rambo helped him locate Karbona, a Taiwan manufacturer of carbon-fiber bike parts which are longer lasting and lighter. She assisted him in establishing accounts for wire transfers and international transactions and made sure all required information was in place to avoid delays in the Customs Office.
Buntz purchased a sample shipment of parts and was very satisfied with them. He is now ready to place his first order of bike parts to sell on his e-Bay site.
Like many, Buntz gained experienced as a buyer on e-Bay. Then he decided to sell a few things he no longer needed. Now he says the most time-consuming part of his new enterprise is designing the ads, taking pictures of the parts and providing a good description. What advice would he give to someone thinking about starting an import business? "Find a niche, do your research and talk to someone like Joy," he said. "She will also help you stay clear of what looks like a good deal, but isn’t. I can testify to that and that’s why I always keep her in the loop."
REI’s opened its fifth office recently at Cameron University in Lawton. Other REI offices are located in Durant, Alva, Oklahoma City and Tulsa. The Tulsa office is located in the Memorial Place Center, 7633 East 63rd St. Suite 300. They may be reached by telephone (918) 459-4515 or through the REI web site. REI was founded by Wes Watkins in 1982 and is a certified development company of the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Buntz said he has a new appreciation for entrepreneurs, especially those who have to invest in land, building and equipment. "My investment has been minimal since I operate it out of my home but it sure gives you a new appreciation for Oklahoma’s spirited entrepreneurs and the sacrifices they make to start or expand their businesses."
The new Durant entrepreneur encourages anyone in need of international assistance to contact REI. "It’s an incredible resource and they don’t even charge a fee for service,” Buntz said.
For more information on REI may be found by clicking here. Paul Buntz may be reached by telephone at (580) 920-0202. While he has not yet set up a web site, Buntz says that will be done in the near future. “The business began last November and is growing fast.”