When I started Clutch Couriers seven years ago, it was out of desperation.
I had looked around the bike messenger co-operative that I had poured my heart and soul into over the last six years and realized that all of it's members were at cross purposes. One of them wanted to work from bed, a couple were just social climbing, and one of them wanted to keep his wages low so he didn't have to pay taxes. Since we were a co-op in the strictest sense that meant we all had to keep our wages low, kinda like Soviet Russia.
As a father of two with rising expenses in a pricey town, that didn't work for me, and I began to realize after six years without a raise; I was doing all the work anyway - and being resented for it - so I might as well start my own company and do it right.
Clutch Couriers was founded on principles that I brought to town as an independent bike courier starting out in New York City.
To provide excellent and affordable service to a wide spectrum of the community; reaching out to those who might not intuitively choose bike messengers.
To provide a decent living for the Crew; with incentives and opportunity to move up in income and responsibility as long as they are willing and available to work hard and improve.
To change by way of example the connotation in wider circles that bicycle couriers are unprofessional.
To have fun and live doing what we love.
Along the way, from rocky beginnings, to unimaginable success, the proof has come out in the pudding. The vision and standards that I have held have produced good jobs and happy customers year after year. Throughout the worst recession in generations while local companies were laying people off and going under, we reinvested in our core personnel and grew their expertise along with their quality of life. This year we are again experiencing growth and they are reaping the benefits as we record our best numbers ever and our market share expands.
Many local, state, and national establishments now rely upon our pro messengers daily efforts to deliver everything from event posters to subpoenas - and even bone marrow and blood plasma! - across Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties.
Clutch Couriers is a household name brand in Santa Cruz, and that's because our bike messengers are everywhere! Doing what they love and doing it efficiently. They are proud to wear the gear that identifies them as Crew and that says a lot. After seven years I'm proud to stand back a little and let them handle the business, because finally at this point I can feel less stress knowing that the day to day is in such capable hands.
Believe me getting a successful business up and running to the point where you know it's going to stick around is no small task.. and I have the ulcers to prove it.
I know now that my heart was in the right place seven years ago when I started my own company. Whatever damage was done to my peers - I would like to take this opportunity to apologize for it now. However, I had to break some eggs to make an omelette, and I'm glad I did it. In the long run Clutch Couriers has become and will continue to be a tremendous boon to the business, entertainment, and legal communities of Santa Cruz County. Most importantly it has provided a new model of courier company that puts the welfare of it's Crew first while still turning a profit.
My sincere thanks to all our supporters, customers, messengers, and extended family throughout the years, without whom this incredible journey wouldn't be possible.
To see my vision and hard work become a sustainable and valuable courier company that will continue to flourish into the foreseeable future is a feeling I will always cherish.. And I have so enjoyed the challenge of making it happen!
Clutch Couriers is fully licensed, insured, and bonded, and provides legal filing, process service, mobile notary, printing and promotional distribution, as well as same day, rush, and custom delivery services on both a call-in and contract basis for Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties.
For more info visit: www.clutchcouriers.com
Or call: 831-466-0560
I thought it would be great to have a place where Bike Couriers and Bike Riders could meet and talk, share stories, trade advice, and build an online community. I look forward to reading and writing our Courier stories, news, and comments.
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Posted by The Interminable Artichoke at 4:07 PM
Monday, October 28, 2013
This is taken from the comments section from an old post but as we finish up our 7th year in business, I thought 'Tips for Longevity" to be pertinent...
"Well Horace, most of this may sound cliche, but maybe you can sift some gems outta my bs.. 1. I don't know why you would want to but, if it's not for you, definitely get out. There's no sense in beating yourself up on something that isn't fun. 2. Find new and interesting things to do in the market that will increase your rate of return and put variety into your day: I'm a mobile notary-pays well and definitely an interesting part of the job. We are process servers, we deliver medical specimens, we slap up posters, we are not above delivering cookies. 3. Less weight, more money. If I delivered bagels and newspapers all day I would want to kill myself. 4. Annihilate the competition in a playful way. Invite them to your races and your kickball and badminton tourneys. Show them with your actions that we have a rich and long-held tradition of comraderie. In business set a standard for yourself and your crew that is hard to beat. Teach them with your bidding process that a rising tide raises all boats. 5. Ply your trade. Sell, sell, sell! Noone will will give a rats ass about you if you don't get out there and offer them something of value. Deliver items of consequence and be professional about it. 6. Use a decent bike with gears and brakes. I learned in my rookie year that friends don't let friends ride junk. 7. Be a conservationist. Your life force keeps you rolling. if you are going to be at a red light for awhile.. swallow your pride and put your foot down and rest. Track-stands are a waste of energy and only look cool to other hipsters. 8. Get over yourself. Yeah you are gonna get cut off nine times a day and if you get butt-hurt about the lack of respect motorist show you all day, you wont last long. Be Aikido about it and use your superior maneuverability and mental health to get outta the way. Honestly most of these drivers don't even see you, so get the F outta their blind spot, and signal and yell or whatever it takes to be noticed and accounted for. 9. Don't pick a physical fight with a car, they will wallop you. Remember the first and best way to resolve a conflict is to ride away. 10. Try and follow the rules of the road. You will feel like a big old dork at first, but once you get in the habit, you will realize that it's about respect and survival. 11. Eat and drink water all day. and sleep all night. Stretch in between 12. Ride on your days off!! You gotta keep up the pace and honestly it's way more tiring watching TV or diddling online. 13. Press your boundaries. Under-promise and over-deliver, but just slightly. We have a beautiful run out to Watsonville through the orchards of Corralitos that makes for a 50 mile day, 20 miles between picks. No-one believes that we do it but it's my favorite ride and we have opened up the whole county to bike messengers that way. 14. Always plow the coins you earn back into the game so you can get better gear, level up, and kill more monkeys!! 15. Make friends on the road. So many cyclists are way too stuck-up and we need each other out there. 16. Last but not least; try not to eat too much shit, drink too much booze, or become a drug addict. that makes it really hard...
That's just some of my tips to longevity. I learned a lot of this from experience but a lot I learned from other messengers in my first few years. I'm not perfect or a genius but I try and not be stingy with my skill-set. My inspiration lately is my crew and helping them and watching them come up in the game is my awesome reward. Oh yeah.. this one my mentor Eli told me my rookie year in NYC. Every once in awhile pull over and look up. Hardly anybody gets to do that in their working day, and that's really why we do the job! Oh yeah look down too.. you can find some amazing ground-squirrels (scores)."
Posted by The Interminable Artichoke at 4:45 PM
In honor of international messenger appreciation day (10-9) we are expanding our messenger profiles to include pro bike messengers from around the country and the world. As far as I'm concerned the best thing about the industry is the people in it and Kevin 'Squid' Bolger is one of my favorites. When we were riding the mean streets of NYC together in the 90's, Squid was the one putting on all the epic alleycat races like 'Apocolips NYC' and 'The Warriors' based on the classic 70's movie. Today he owns CycleHawk Messengers - NYC's premier messenger company, and lives with his wife and kids in Brooklyn. To me he exemplifies what a true messenger should be... Always ready to give ups to his fellow couriers and contribute to the community. Thanks Squid for all that you do! Peep his bio below:
'My name is Kevin Bolger (aka Squid), I am a Bike Messenger in New York City since 1992. I love my job and am pumped to say it has taken me around the world and then some!
Lucky to meet the most incredible, interesting, and real people doing this work, including Amy (my awesome wife!). I feel blessed to make a career out of it, and raising two crazy kids from working on a bike makes me feel great.
Have seen a lot of change over the years and technology has slimmed the work load considerably. Anyone who is a real go getter/adapter is still around and we are currently seeing a renewed interest in the industry from the tech sector.
Founded the New York Bike Messenger Foundation in 2004 which is a 501c3 Nonprofit that benefits workers hurt on the job and families of messengers who have died while working. Check us out at nybmf.org
I Believe we are here to help each other and it's up to us to make it through together. If I can help someone's day with a good deed, smile, or encouraging word that gives me great satisfaction. In my experience messengers are generous, hard working, life loving people. I'm Proud to be a part of this community and happy to see my friends/associates doing well!
If you ever need a package delivered in NYC hit me up at cyclehawk.com
Posted by The Interminable Artichoke at 4:39 PM
Monday, September 16, 2013
MESSENGER PROFILE #10 - Cassidy Morris 'My name is Cassidy and I like bikes. It sounds like the introduction you give at recovery meetings and it might as well be. Bikes are an addiction of sorts. I guess it all started with my first road bike a few years back. It was a salvaged Univega mixte with stem shifters. A real clunker. I sanded it down and painted it brown and green and, with some gracious help from the Cabrillo Bike Co-op, got it rideable. It was my pride and joy. I've always been into DIY culture - it goes hand in hand with the punk ethics that have shaped who I am. I've been learning how to build and maintain my bikes ever since with the help of my pal Jack, my fellow bike enthusiasts and the interwebs. It can be frustrating at times, but it's important to know how to deal with problems you might encounter while on the road-from loose crank bolts to broken chains. I've found that to be especially true while working as a courier. I've progressed from the bike punk, to the bike nerd. I didn't even know bike messengers were a thing until I met some of the Clutch crew playing bike polo. (Which, by the way, is a lot of fun. I wholeheartedly encourage anyone who enjoys riding a bicycle to come out and join us for some pickup and laughs. Tuesday and Thursday nights and Saturday afternoons, check us out on Faceblarg.) I was envious from the start. Riding your bike and getting paid to do it?! I learned that these guys were serious riders, though. They're the ones swerving to avoid getting hooked or doored in the rain on their way to Watsonville with the wind at their faces. This didn't curb my envy though, it gave me something to admire and aspire to. I started riding more after meeting them. I'd ride back from working in Watsonville, or out to work in La Selva. It gave me a great feeling of accomplishment. It wasn't until March 2013 that I was given the opportunity to go on a ride along with Mike D. of the Clutch crew. It was different and new. Luckily Mike D. is a great teacher. There's more to this job than riding a bike, but I caught on pretty quick and Rick let me join the team. Since then I've met a lot of nice people and learned a few tricks of the trade. Cleat bolts threaded into the seat tube just in case is pretty clever. Most importantly - I've been having fun. I love riding back from Capitola via Portola and hitting the beach. I still look at the ocean and the lighthouse baffled and humbled. This is where I live and this is what I do. The view from my office is better than most.' -CM Owner's Note- "It has been a true pleasure and honor to see Cassidy take to the job and really come up in the whole spectrum of skills and services we offer our customers. I'm proud of her efforts and dedication, and I really appreciate her love of the job and the ease at which she takes to it. Get it Cassidy! Best Rookie Ever!" -RG
Posted by The Interminable Artichoke at 8:54 PM
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Today marks the end of my 19th year as a bike messenger, and the beginning of my 20th!!
To those who have supported me and rode along the way: I am forever grateful for you pulling me forward in your draft, and for the welcome company on this sometimes lonely road.
To those who don't understand and have tried to stop me: There are times when I have carried the full weight of your judgements.. Yet - There is no ill intent I cannot outlast. There is no ridicule that will not eventually slide off my back. There is no roadblock you may throw up that I cannot out-maneuver. The only way you can cut my journey short is to run me down, and if that happens... God help us both.
I feel like the proverbial happy hound with his head out the window of a speeding car; ears flying back with a trail of slobber. I may get hit in the head with a pole.. but at least I'm enjoying the ride. Thank you to the 'driver' for rolling down the window and allowing me that freedom!
Posted by The Interminable Artichoke at 10:05 AM
Saturday, August 25, 2012
Well here I am, and what a ride it's been.
I have learned so much from being a bike messenger. One thing is what people mostly see, the pure joy and freedom of tearing down the road for a living, but also the slog through bad weather and the burden of responsibility that comes with carrying out the job professionally.
Along the way I have parleyed my independent contractor status into an entrepreneurial way of life. I sell my skills on the open market, and if I'm not paid well enough where I am, I step up my game and look for people and places that will benefit from my services and can appreciate - in every sense of the word - their value.
Holding true to that vision and standard has created real lasting jobs here in Santa Cruz, a dream come true for me as I watch the fruits of my many years labor help to make other lives better.
Today professional bike messengers cross the county daily carrying everything from legal paperwork to your grandma's biopsy, and the people that hire them know they can be counted on to get the job done.. to get it done right.. and to get it done right away.
Personally, I am so thankful for what I have gained from the job over the years: An acute sense of focus on the road, and an awareness of where I am on the physical plane, especially in relation to others. A rare practice these days.
A strong body and disciplined mind are requisites for doing the job in longevity, and in turn these things add to your life span. A humble nature must be maintained in order to let flattery and abuse slide from those that don't understand the job in it's day to day.
And in the end always a sense of wonder in what lies around the corner.
Of course a huge shout must go out to all my fellow bike messengers I have met along the road, both in the Clutch Couriers crew, and those holding it down worldwide. You are all a special breed of human, and I have been honored to ride with you, and be a part of this community.
Mostly, I am grateful to the people that gave me the job. Those of you that trusted me and my crew with your valuables, your documents of high consequence, your faith in our ability to deliver, rain or shine. You've given me the perfect job, and as long someone will hire me.. I may never retire.
Today my big chain ring in the front lost a tooth. It went down from a 53 to a 52. They say I'm getting older.. just as long as it happens one ratio at a time I don't mind so much.
Long Live The Profession! Long Live Bike Messengers!
Clutch Crew Forever!
Posted by The Interminable Artichoke at 12:39 AM
Thursday, August 23, 2012
Posted by The Interminable Artichoke at 10:38 PM