by Janet Bressler-Bilenky
You know that guy down the street you only know to say “hello”, and then one day you strike up a conversation and it kindles a new friendship? Catching up with Mark Weaver for this interview feels like that. Weaver operates a one-man custom frame building shop just a short trip across the river from Philly. This will be his fourth year exhibiting at the Philly Bike Expo.
PBE What did you do before starting your own custom frame building business?
MW Strangely, I worked as a computer network admin and security officer for a small mid-sized company. It seems like an odd career change, but every job I held before going into IT either involved the US military or working with my hands (construction or some sort of mechanic). In 2002-2004 I was deployed to Iraq as part of Task Force Viking (Joint Special Operations Task Force – North). This ultimately led me back to bicycles and de-stressing my life.
PBE When did you know you wanted to become a custom frame builder?
MW I don’t think it was one single path that lead me to frame building. Like most builders, I started building as a hobby, I mostly built frames for myself and friends. Along with lots of riding, frame building was a good way for me to release a lot stress from both Iraq and the high stress world of managing and securing a national computer network. 4 years after building my first frame, I decided to make a business out of it in 2013. I haven’t looked back since.
PBE How did you come to choose Collingswood as your location?
MW I don’t think I chose Collingswood, I think it chose me. I spent a lot of time here (Collingswood) as a kid. I was a skateboarder when I was a teenager and young adult, and the Collingswood Patco train stop was our conduit into Philly. Fast forward to adulthood and your priorities in life change. My wife and I decided to live in Collingswood for many reasons: great parks, a happening downtown, it’s quiet, yet still accessible to Philly with a quick train ride. So, it was natural to keep WCW close to home.
PBE Do you have a favorite part of the frame building process? What is it?
MW For me, it is doing finish work. I fillet braze my frames and all the brass fillets need to be finished after brazing. Learning to do good finish work is a skill set that people either love or hate, but most hate it. I love it. I like turning up the music really loud in the shop and just rocking out while I file and sand fillets. Since finish work is the last step in my process before it goes off to paint, it’s like I’m having a going away party for each of my frames.