Sustainability: An Introduction to the Stinner Commitment

Editor's Note: We'd like to introduce you to the beginnings of our exploration into the environmental impact of our build and manufacturing processes. Sustainability has always been a major part of the bike industry from a transportation perspective. But too few companies also look at the costs of the manufacturing. This is the intro to our continuing attempt to be as transparent as possible.

Photos: Matthew Christopher Miller

The story of Stinner is one of gradual evolution. A few decades ago, a young Aaron got his first bike and went on his first ride. That bike, and ride, fueled the evolution of one rider and person into something bigger. When Aaron made his first hand-built bike it was with the very modest goal of making a better fitting bike for one tall drink of water: himself. The short history of the company is an accumulation of small changes and ideas that began with that one bike.

This bike is great . . . and the next one will be better.

Now Stinner is a team of people, and riders, that all have their own story and evolution behind them that pushes Stinner to make the next move just little bigger than the last . . . 

Our newest project is perhaps our biggest and most daunting yet: sustainability. We’re going to be around for a good long time and we want to make our future, and our customers, as awesome as we can. It is a fraught path, especially for a small enterprise. It’s easy to play lip-service to the idea, but far more difficult to do anything about it. And so: small steps.

As we pursue new ideas in this evolution, you’ll see it in the products we offer and the way we do business. We want to make Stinner a company that we would want to buy stuff from, and strive to make it an even better place to work. It’s a multi-faceted project that will ultimately never be finished. And that’s kind of the point. Every process and product can always be better, however marginally. 

Even in the beginning Stinner was never, in the strictest sense, a one man show. There is, and was, a community of riders that embraced what Aaron started and allowed him to grow as a builder and business. That support continues today and forms the first pillar of our sustainability project: people. The people that make up our company, to our immediate community, all the way to the larger cycling collective, are all stakeholders in our success, as we are part of theirs.

The next part of our sustainability mission is to make sure that we’re around a good long time. A lifetime warranty on a frame doesn’t mean much if we’re gone in 10 years. To that end, we’ll continue to push ourselves to produce the kinds of bikes that people want to ride and provide an experience that makes our customers happy that they chose us. We figure if we take care of our customers in the best way possible, the sustainability of the business will follow. Simple as that. 

Lastly, and easily the most difficult aspect of sustainability, is our impact on the physical world around us. The places we love to go by bike, and even all the places we don’t, deserve respect. Are we ever going to take a ride at the molybdenum mine? Probably not. But can we try to make sure that the materials that we use have the smallest lifetime impact that they can on the environment? Absolutely. There are many projects that we have implemented, and will be implementing, to help lessen our impact on the world around us. You’ll hear about all of them, from paint to packaging and everything in between.

Before we can chart a path forward, we have to understand where we are now. To that end, we’ve undertaken a project to understand what it takes to create the products at the core of our business: bike frames. While we’ve been building out of steel and titanium all this time we did little to investigate the materials broader social, economic, and environmental impact. So, we commissioned an outside study on what it really takes to produce the raw materials we work with everyday. While we knew these simple metals make great bikes, it turns out they’re some of the best, most sustainable, options as well. From here we’re able to look at the next steps in our supply chain, and further into our own internal operations.

As we gain a greater understanding of our impact, and the ways that we’re working to change it, we’ll publish updates to the ‘Workshop’. Our goal is to make sustainability a concrete set of actions, not a high-minded concept that we just talk a lot about. Stay tuned for the next steps!