Army veteran opens e-bike business in Scott County (copy) |
For approximately 16 years, Keith Deutsch’s father ran Ron’s Cycle Shop, LLC from a store on the fourth generation family farm in Helena Township.
Today, Keith works at the same store, this time running the business as a sporting goods showroom selling two-wheeled, electrically assisted patrol vehicles primarily to government entities.
The business is located on the family farm, which Deutsch said he wants to continue to exploit to its full potential.
“I want to manage this land for the next generation,” Deutsch said.
When asked if he had any plans to reopen the store one day, the simple answer was “no”.
“I don’t know if I ever planned to revitalize the business,” Deutsch said.
A disabled Army combat veteran who lost his right leg during the Iraq War, Deutsch wrote a book about his life in 2018 titled Born STUBborn, including his work to become a national champion in adaptive snowboarding. This led him to book and lecture tours.
It all came to a halt when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, canceling all of its scheduled events in one day.
Deutsch decided to pivot, starting making repairs in his father’s shop after he returned to Minnesota.
Laughing, Deutsch said he quickly realized he wasn’t as good at repairs as his father and decided to change again, this time into retail. While he originally wanted to sell motorcycles, he found that the license was much more difficult to obtain. Instead, it became a sporting goods company.
“I plan to sell fleets of electric bicycles (MTBs) to municipalities and any organization represented by an acronym,” Deutsch wrote in his county application.
In 2022, his business was officially incorporated, and he signed his first contract with the state to supply e-bikes earlier this year.
Deutsch said he was considering being able to sell patrol vehicles to any entity using two-wheeled patrol vehicles. Instead of using gasoline vehicles, it sells electric vehicles.
“I don’t see much of a future in anything gasoline-powered,” Deutsch said. “As such, Ron’s Cycle Shop will begin to be licensed as a sporting goods store to offer electric-assist two-wheeled patrol vehicles to agency-level organizations.”
While he will sell e-bikes made by Rambo and QuietKat, Deutsch said he hopes to make his own one day.
“My 10-year plan is absolutely to start producing my own bike,” Deutsch said.
He explained that the only original part on the bikes is the frame itself.
“It wouldn’t take too much product development to do it myself,” Deutsch said.
Deutsch said he is also enrolling at the United Bicycle Institute this fall and when he receives his certificates, he plans to reopen for service.
Looking ahead, Deutsch said New Prague, north of the family farm, is considering building a bike path behind its 40-acre backyard. In anticipation of this, he will build a challenge course for the bike next to where the path should be.
One day, Deutsch expects his property to be incorporated into the city and may end up being sold. But until then, he is happy to continue his activity on the family farm, as long as he can.