Douma & Dixon

I'm Dorian Douma, and I am Douma-Dixon Cycles. At least for the moment, it's just me. And maybe a few of my friends. I don't know, we haven't talked about it. But it's also my mother's father, Charlie Douma, and my dad, George Douma. "Papa" Charlie came from a farming background and became an auto mechanic. My dad came from a marine mechanical background and became an electrician.

Along with my mother and the rest of the family, they taught me about doing business and about building and owning things, especially transportation things. Both sides of the family were repairers more than they were replacers, so being able to fix things is normal for me. Or having people around who can fix them. When you actually replace something, it's a major thing. It's not something you do offhand.

So Charlie was a great auto mechanic, as well as a bunch of other things, and George is a great electrician and general mechanic, and they're both great improvisers. Their strength is that they can see an object for what it is as well as what it was meant to be, and they know the value of reusing things. They also keep track of which eras of manufacturing yielded different characteristics in parts and arcane stuff like that. So that's something I picked up on and applied to computers, websites, and, in the end, bicycles.

Charlie would save old bits and pieces that were high-quality, and George would scavenge abandoned sites or the dump to source hard-to-find parts. That's how I learned about the power of salvage as a resource and as an antidote to the destruction of waste. It's easy to protect yourself when going into these toxic places, and it's easy to clean up whatever's found. I think it's easier than theft. I really don't think bike thieves are saving themselves much time, and it certainly sucks way more than having to wear a mask to go through some dumpster full of derailleurs. So when I find some total gem on a thing that's been chucked out, I thank my dad for showing me the legitimacy of salvage. It's really derided in the general culture of our time, because it confronts our horrendous tendency towards waste, but it's so joyful. It feels like getting something from nothing. But it's not from nothing. It's from sheer ambient waste. There are all sorts of people who track and monetize the garbage stream for their own profit, and my family on both sides has always known all sorts of these people. We're like modern-day hunter-gatherers, and the rest of the industry's more like farmers. So we have that advantage of being able to get better parts that need less maintenance, at no cost.

I also have the same approach to public engagement and education as my mother, and that's why I like to integrate a lot of free advice into my business. In her translation work, she tackled issues of understanding and clarity, and that's what I've been doing in some of my other work as a web designer and with cycling advocacy and safety. The issue of ergonomics works on bicycles in the same way as it does with language and with presenting information on the 'net. And like my mom, I like to give good advice and pass on what I've learned. I don't really believe that it's enough to sell someone a piece of equipment. The deal has to be good, clear, clean and work for everybody. I have been on both ends of bad deals and as time goes by, I learn more and more about keeping business arrangements solid. Where to position my policies, what should my conduct be like, what price points should I shoot for? How much do I invest? I'm taking all these things on one step at a time, not going too far out on any limbs, and focusing on my product. If I'm making great, safe commuter bikes, then I can justify the money I get for them.

We don't have any agreed-upon guidelines for cycling in the city. When I was learning to drive, I attended Young Drivers of Canada school of driving, and I relied on those lessons during my time as a driver. Cyclists these days are left to figure it out for themselves and try to share little tips. I've figured out how to commute around Toronto on two wheels, I knew all along it could be done quickly, safely and legally, and I think the public needs some communiques about the subtleties and little tricks that can keep them safe while our infrastructure catches up. As a vendor I do feel some responsibility in bridging some of these gaps, especially since I'm selling vehicles that can be dangerous on the road in the hands of an inexperienced driver. Helping other cyclists to avoid the bumps and bruises that I earned while learning some hard lessons out there is part of my bike business, just like it's part of my web business. So that's my big business ethics strength.

Now back to my grandfather: he got onto the Sidney, BC town council. He was all politically engaged. He actually had a big hand in having a park built out of an industrial yard, and that park is now a big part of the town's community life. So I feel like I'm following his example when I write to city councillors about traffic and infrastructure issues, and when I try to raise awareness among road users about the legislation and bylaws that affect them.

So this site is not only going to be a listing of great bikes for sale, and a description of my services, but also a place to find some great info about commuting, some nice resources, and even some political awareness type stuff. People love to say "oh I'm not political, I'm not going to get political," and it's like saying "I'm not going to have a haircut." You're going to have a hair style one way or another, whether you think it's a style or not. Even a non-style is a style. Even bald is a style. I also do hairdressing, by the way. And make music, and DJ, and throw parties. And I do it all in the same way. Because doing one thing full-time brings on professional myopia. So when demand picks up, I'll get partners or apprentices instead of taking this full-time. I don't really think full-time anything is a good idea for anyone.

I like this business because it's kind of an homage to my family's businesses and their approaches and stuff, and really the people I've mentioned here are just a few. We're a whole family of entrepreneurs and contractors and small business owners and independent salespeople, and when I close a great deal I feel like I've done them proud every time.

And of course I myself am a nice guy and like working on bikes and finding the parts in crazy places.