I'm Jonathan Greene of Jonathan Greene Cycles and my story is a journey. There was not some single point in time that a light went on in my head and I decided I wanted to be a part time framebuilder. The Journey has taken my whole life. I have a day job, or actually a career. I manage investment portfolios for high net worth retail investment clients for a firm everyone has heard of. I use words in my day gig like standard deviation, duration, correlation, convexity, alpha, etc. In the evenings I build bicycle frames; frames that hopefully will be raced or used hard. I don't have to use many words when I'm in the shop. I can just work in my own solitude with only the sounds of the file cutting steel or the bellow of the torch filling the air.
I like what I do in the day, but the rewards are mostly financial. It's been good to my family of 3 sons and the love of my life, Keri. What I do after hours, though, is for me. Seven years ago a colleague/pal handed me a book review in the Journal about a handful of professional cats who left Wall St. gigs, surgical tables, courtrooms and corporate board rooms to follow a dream. They became catfish farmers, wine makers, artists, etc. usually replacing mental labor with the physical kind. At the time I knew I'd also one day make that journey too. I'm not going to go through life wishing I had done more. I had always been comfortable on mountain biking trips or doing race weekends with pals. Staying in cheap motels and looking forward to the after-ride beer is preferable to staying at a Ritz with free golf or hanging around a pool with umbrella drinks in places like Naples or Scottsdale. Give me Pisgah, Moab, Tsali, Gloucester and Athens instead of the corporate weekends my industry prefers. They are not my thing. I’d rather hang out with bike racers or drink whiskey with Don Ferris. My clients would say I’m very good in the finance world, but I’m not a natural and I don’t play corporate politics. So why not frame building?
In 2002 I started painting frames to satisfy my own needs with respect to collecting vintage bicycles. My father in law had made his living restoring corvettes so with his knowledge and help I was able to shorten that learning curve and turn it into a small restoration business. In 2003-2004 I approached multiple framebuilders to help learn how to build my first frame. They all seemed interested, but timing and having a second person in a one-man shop was an issue; or they seemed unstable. The following year at the first NAHBS I met Doug Fattic (who was starting up frame classes again) and signed on for his Spring 2006 class. The journey had begun. I had no goals about it all; no idea I'd ever build for others; I just did it.
My life with bikes is not unlike what you'll find on many enthusiasts forums like this one. Nothing crazy to report other than the failed sidehack we tried to weld to a BMX frame in the 7th grade with no adult help. My Dad is an original founder of the Florida Freewheelers, the largest bike club in the state, so there were always racers around. We had some brothers named Stetina who slept in our garage as we were often host housing in the 70's when I was a kid. I’ve always had bikes; lots of them actually. I raced BMX for more than a few years when checkered Vans weren't old school and I remember and used Oakley's first products long before they made eyewear. I did some road racing in high school and college. I wrenched in a few shops. I ran the Student government bike shop up campus at the University of Florida until they replaced me with a filipino kid named Johan who was eligible for financial aid and a federal subsidy for his wage. It was all legal except for maybe the fake ID I made to buy beer with Andy Hampsten's name on it. I mention these things not to drop names or be cool, it's that bicycles have always been there for me; I've never been able to shake them (not that I'd even try).
Fast forward to today. I build racing frames for road, track and cyclocross. 2009 was my first "live" year. I delivered a handful of frames after building for several years as a hobby. I was testing the water to decide if I wanted the added professional responsibility of more clients. I also sponsored several riders with frames in the FL cyclocross series. We took 2nd place in the elite category. 2010 will see delivery of up to 10-12 frames which is about my full capacity. I have two riders racing my frames again. I'm thrilled and grateful for their confidence. I'll be back racing again too, this time on my own bike. In a few years, I plan to field a small team rather than sponsor individual riders.
I'd be remiss in not mentioning some of my influences and informal mentors. Richard Sachs has been a friend since before I started building and has guided me along, sometimes unknowingly. I own some of his best work and he's the standard in my eyes. Mike Zanconato is a guy that wore a suit and followed his dream. His business background is not unlike mine and I find myself very much aligned with his thinking on so many aspects of framebuilding. Mike has helped me quite a bit along the way. He's a real bro. Last, I should thank my wife for her support and guidance. Keri has the hands and soul of a real artist and through her, life is viewed through a different lens than mine.
Thanks for the opportunity to share something about me. It's been a pleasure to remember where I've come from. I'd love to answer questions or comments.