Big city-style promotions hit the streets of Dayton
By Kevin J. Gray
Robert Weyrauch had been working in construction for nine years before the industry, often the canary in the coal mine of bad economic news, took a rapid slowdown. This was in late 2007/early 2008 and it had Weyrauch pondering, “What’s next?” His answer would come from an unexpected place. It literally strolled right past him.
One day, while working in his yard, Weyrauch noticed a man walking down Main Street in Harrison Township with a placard on his back. The sign was urging people to donate blood. Several days later, Weyrauch saw the man with the sign again, and a few days later, yet another time. That’s when Weyrauch realized the man was either a very strong advocate for the blood bank, or more likely was being paid to advertise for them. Weyrauch’s question had been answered, and he said to himself, “That’s what I want to do for a job.” His next thought was, “Except I’m a cyclist, and I want to incorporate cycling.”
The early seeds for Weyrauch’s company, Pedal Promotions, LLC, began to take root. Weyrauch, a car collector, sold one of his cars to buy a recumbent trike – a three-wheeled cycle that rides low to the ground. He outfitted the trike with a six foot by four foot overhead banner and was ready to roll.
He then realized that he didn’t know much about starting a business, let alone running one. So Weyrauch looked around for local resources. He found a micromanagement class at Sinclair. One of Weyrauch’s class requirements was to conduct a competitive analysis of his business idea. Not much competition in Dayton, so Weyrauch looked to bigger cities. There he found several other companies that offered cycle-based advertising. Weyrauch contacted one particular company that was very helpful. Weyrauch filled out a non-compete and began talking to them about possible franchise options.
Unfortunately, before Weyrauch could sign on, he faced a setback. He had injured his knee and his shoulder doing construction work and had to go on disability, awaiting surgery. The bicycle promotion business would have to wait.
It took four years and five surgeries before Weyrauch was able to start considering his business in earnest again, but he didn’t spend that time idly. Unable to work, he pushed on at Sinclair, moving toward the completion of a business management degree. Several times he tried to go back to work, or to take job-training programs, but disability would not allow it for fear of re-injury.
Weyrauch waited, continuing to chip away at his degree at Sinclair. He met instructors like Marcus Jenkins and Sarah Gross, people who have continued to help Weyrauch build his business. Eventually, Weyrauch deemed himself ready – healthy enough to waive disability and with enough knowledge to move forward with the business completely.
His non-compete expired, Weyrauch reached out again to the company he had been in discussions with earlier. This time, instead of considering franchising, Weyrauch purchased several of the company assets. He flew to Brooklyn and hauled back three bikes. Weyrauch discovered that the bikes had been stored in an outdoor facility and were rusty and a bit worse for the wear. With the help of his girlfriend and his son, Weyrauch began refurbishing them. After several months of hard work, Pedal Promotions was finally in business.
Fast-forward to today and you may see Weyrauch and one of his billboard bikes around town. The bikes are both literally and figuratively green. The bright green paint helps them stand out, and the pedal power keeps the advertising environmentally friendly. And although a few folks have discouraged Weyrauch, noting that his concept might be too “big city” for Dayton, Weyrauch is not dissuaded. In fact, he notes that the response when folks see him on the streets has been very positive. A lot of people take pictures with him and his leaf-green bikes, or ask how they can get a job doing the same thing.
The company offers a wide array of services for local businesses and other groups. In addition to traditional advertising for local companies, Weyrauch is targeting fairs and festivals, parks and recreational facilities, non-profits, issue awareness campaigns and public service announcements. He works with his advertisers to determine routes and lengths of campaigns, and advertisers can track his progress via GPS listings on the Pedal Promotions website. The bikes are also outfitted with audio systems and employees on bikes can distribute flyers, brochures and/or other promotional materials.
Eventually, Weyrauch hopes to refurbish his third bike and outfit each bike with motors. He also plans to incorporate backpack billboards, with team members on foot so that he can provide a “bombard the street” option – two bikes with billboards and five backpack billboards to canvas an area.
In the meantime, look for the bright green bikes at Dayton-area events. For more information, check out the Pedal Promotions website at www.pedalingpromotions.com, or follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pedalingpromotions.com.
Reach DCP freelance writer Keven J. Gray at KevinGray@daytoncitypaper.com