#mechanicmonday honors Matt Merullo
A new week means a brand new Mechanic Monday feature to share! Today we are excited to introduce you to Matt Merullo of Riverside, California!
For those of you who are unfamiliar with PBMA’s Mechanic Monday series, this is where we feature one mechanic each week who is chosen randomly from the pool of nominations that we receive. Mechanic Monday is all about mechanics supporting fellow mechanics, and we are proud to partner with Abbey Bike Tools, Cycling Industry News, and People for Bikes to share these great features with you.
Matt Merullo got his start as a bicycle mechanic by helping out in local shops in his home state of Connecticut as a teenager. After college, Matt literally worked his way across the country, going bike shop to bike shop, until he ended up as the Service Manager at Jenson USA in Riverside, California. A journey like that doesn’t come without stories – and we are happy to let Matt share his with you in his own words!
PBMA: How did you become involved in cycling and/or cycling mechanics?
MM: At any early age I remember my Dad bringing home clapped-out mountain bikes that he picked up free at the local drop off center. These bikes were in rough shape much of the time; however, they were some of my first victims. I would swap parts, ditch parts, or add parts, [and I would] just mix and match trying to piece the together the raddest assortment of random parts. I say “rad” but what I really mean is 3x8, freewheels, bar ends, and caliper brakes. My Dad took me mountain biking for my first times, and from there, the progression of riding and wrenching never really stopped. I was always a tinkerer with things a kid and bikes were no different. As I got older the toys got bigger: RC race cars, Jet skis, Jeeps, and bikes never left. Getting my driver’s license meant I always had a ride to the bike park. Diablo (now Mountain Creek New Jersey) was the closest to me growing up in Connecticut. Life was snowboards in the winter and either bikes or the lake in the summer, and that’s how it was for a long time. Then I went and got a Bachelor’s Degree in Outdoor Education and Johnson State College in Vermont. During those four years, I spent each summer working at various retail shops with in the resort town of Stowe. I loved being the “shop guy.” The final summer, I was fortunate enough to get my break in the bike industry.
From the earliest days walking into the bike shop with my Dad, I could picture myself working behind the service counter. In the spring of 2014, I reached out to all the bikes shops in town hoping to land a job. Well, with no bike shop experience on the resume it was a challenge to be considered. Then a buddy referred me to the owner of the Nordic Barn in Stowe. They had a rental fleet of Jamis hybrids that got heavily used during the tourist seasons in town. What was super exciting is they had just hired the best mechanic in town [as a] partner, and had a new bike shop on bottom floor of the building. With the new shop came new brands; Intense and Rocky Mountain bikes were flooding the shops that summer. With good recommendations from various shop owners in town, I was hired on as one of two bike mechanics of Mansfield Cycles. I was greener then green, but I listened, observed, followed instruction and had the best experience of my working career that summer. From there, I moved across the country and began working at of the best bike shops in SoCal. It’s been bikes all day every day since then, and I couldn’t be more stoked to work in this industry.
PBMA: Do you have a favorite moment or story from your time in the cycling industry?
MM: It’s hard to put a finger on a favorite moment over the past five years in the industry. Something special about being a bicycle mechanic is the fact that you can truly make someone’s day each day you’re at the shop. There’s always the spare part or piece in the back, a labor charge on the house, or the extra ten minutes you can spend cleaning someone’s bike (even if you know it’s going right back to being a garage ornament). It’s the little things that sometimes go the furthest with our customers. Some of these decisions have led to me having great working relationships with so many great members of the cycling community.
PBMA: What motivation or advice would you give to aspiring professional bicycle mechanics?
MM: Take advantage of all your resources! Today, so many companies have unbelievably awesome service documents and even videos to help you become an expert on their product. Many of the same [companies] offer technical training at both internal and external events and some will even come to you for a more intimate educational experience for you and your shop. Don’t hesitate to ask questions, call the tech centers, and use your dealer services.
The online training modules are gold. I feel this is truly some of the best industry education out there. Take your time with these. Don’t feel like you need to rush through and cheat yourself out answers just to hit your completion goals. These videos and quizzes are in place for you to learn and better your career in the industry, take advantage of that!
PBMA: What is your favorite tool?
MM: Someone once told me you can judge a good mechanic by the number of homemade tools they use. My favorite must be my nipple driver. It’s just a black j-bend spoke folded up into a nice ergonomic shape with a brass nipple thread on backward and crimped, leaving just a few threads exposed. It the best for wheel builds!
That’s all for this week! Thank you for following along with our series and sharing our support for our fellow mechanics. We’ll be back next week with a new feature. In the meantime, we are still in need of nominations!! You don’t need to be a PBMA Member to nominate or be featured! (All that we ask is for no self-nominations, please.) Click here to learn more about our 2018 Mechanic Monday series, and here to learn more about how to nominate your favorite mechanic!
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