How one engineering grad sets Montrealers’ wheels in motion

With some travel restrictions still in place because of COVID-19, many Montrealers have made the most of warmer weather on two wheels.

As a result, for mountain bike enthusiast Jody Arsenault, BEng 12, it’s been a busy season at ArsenoVelo, the mobile bike service and repair shop he opened in 2016.

“This year has been extreme,” Arsenault says. “With COVID-19, the demand has just been incredible — I could not have guessed this would have happened.”

The motivation to start his own business wasn’t hard to come by. “I’ve always been a make-my-own-path type of person,” he says. “I thought of ways to open and start my own company and, given my experience, it was somewhat of an easy transition.”

Following his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at Concordia’s Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science, Arsnenault completed a certificate in bicycle mechanics from the Winterborne Bicycle Institute. With the help of his business partner and wife, Caroline Villard, things at ArsenoVelo are looking good.

Business on the go

Being mobile was always at the base of ArsenoVelo’s business plan. The service shop is stationed in a large cargo van, so that Arsensault can pick up and drop off his customers’ bikes at their desired location — at various points around Montreal or on the city’s South Shore.

According to Arsenault, mobile businesses are on the rise, now, more than ever. “It’s just the mentality of today,” he says. “With the Amazon market, everyone expects everything to come to them. Shopping online is definitely increasing, so we’re going to see more of these ‘catered-to-the-client’ business models.”

In light of the pandemic, a mobile service is ideal for Arsenault since there is little to no person-to-person contact and because it offers more convenient schedules.

“Getting to the customers has been easier since a lot of them are at home. In the past, most of my appointments were in the evenings. Now my clients are a little more flexible so I can actually get through my days quicker.”

‘I learned a great deal from my failures and setbacks’

To manage the increase in demand for bike repairs during the pandemic, Arsenault has been able to hire additional staff for the first time. Three engineering students — including two from Concordia, as well as one high-school student — have joined the ArsenoVelo team.

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