Father and son duo riding the e-bike wave

Mobility scooter shop branches out

In running a business that sells and repairs e-bikes — the electrically powered, low-speed cousin of the scooter — and mobility devices aimed primarily at the elderly, it seems father and son team Reuven and Lavi Zemer are riding both the green and the grey waves.

But at In Motion Services, located along a lonely stretch of Dufferin Street north of Sheppard Avenue, finding a market isn’t the challenge. The challenge is mixing business and family.

“I would describe it as an art,” said Lavi, who added that working with family members requires patience.

It’s not that his father Reuven is difficult. It’s just that he’s both a business partner and a father.

“It’s a fine balance,” Lavi said. “We had to learn how to deal with each other in a business setting and try to keep our emotions out of it as much as possible, but at the same time not losing that father/son thing.”

After a six-year stint as an audio engineer in various studios around Toronto, Lavi joined his father in the business venture in the summer of 2008. Already a 20-year veteran of the home and medical mobility industry, Reuven found his repair and maintenance skills translated easily to e-bikes, a newer product gaining popularity.

Lavi said that the mobility products have been their biggest sellers, but as the summer sets in, sales of e-bikes are well on the rise.

“This year there’s more interest and more customers too,” said Lavi, himself a fan and rider of the e-bikes.

“I ride it like a bicycle on the streets. I consider it like a bicycle more than like a scooter,” he said.

The provincial government agrees. Following a three-year trial period ending late last year the Ministry of Transportation finalized the rules for e-bikes, which consider them roughly the same as a regular bicycle.

“You don’t need a license or registration or anything. You just need a helmet and you go,” Lavi said.

The other stipulation in the law — and it’s a big one—is that a speed cap be programmed into the machines limiting their top speed to 32 km/h.

“Some people think it’s not fast enough for them,” Lavi said, mentioning some customers have asked about modifying the bikes for higher speeds.

“I hear about it and my customers ask me about it, but it’s illegal so we don’t sell anything that goes over 32 km/h.”

Which is good enough for Lavi.

“It feels a lot faster than it sounds,” he said.

About this article:

By: Christopher Reynolds
Posted: May 13 2010 1:08 pm
Filed in: Business
Edition: Toronto