Today we’d like to introduce you to Joe Tonsager.
Joe, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My story really starts with all things biking as a boy in central Minnesota. Riding as a child turned to racing as a teen and exploration was always right out of my door with gravel roads for days. The turning point for me was a move out west to Colorado from Minnesota to pursue a degree in Industrial Design from the Art Institute after High School. During my time at the Art Institute, I was able to explore the soft goods world of design and the seed was planted. Degree in hand, I spent a few years in a professional model shop within a local architecture firm that really honed another set of skills that would apply directly to my future profession.
Colorado (as well as friends here) really opened my eyes to BIG adventures on the bike and then around 2009, I became aware of the Tour Divide and the subsequent bikepacking style of travel associated with it. I was immediately hooked on the idea of the bike (frame) being the ‘sherpa’ for adventures and freeing my back from a backpack! With machines and fabric already on hand from past projects I set-off to make myself some frame bags and accessory bags to carry the necessities. My personal use of these bags allowed me to refine and alter the design, structure and functionality as a real-world user. Many, many flaws and shortcomings were found and changed over and over again. Slowly friends would inquire about making a frame or accessory bag and I realized that I needed to put a name to this ‘thing’ I had created.
JPaks was born as a side business out of a demand from individuals and a passion on my part to design better functioning bikepacking gear from what was already available. With an emphasis on custom as well as handmade in Colorado, JPaks officially became an LLC in 2012 and the demand hasn’t slowed since! With a strictly organic advertising approach over the years and a passion forward business approach, JPaks has slowly grown into a nationally recognized brand that provides next-level custom Paks with an emphasis on quality and durability. I still ride, race and use the Paks I create on a daily/weekly basis and that ‘practice what you preach’ approach has attracted the right people to the brand over the years and I’m extremely lucky to be able to work with those amazing people to help fulfill their dreams of adventure!
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Ha, never! Small business is the ultimate roller coaster of highs and lows and being the sole employee as well as the owner has its challenges. Mainly my struggle comes from being able to find the right people to assist in the production of goods to meet the demand that has been created. Keeping all aspects of Pak making in Colorado has also been tricky, but it’s a paramount principle of JPaks and I one that I’m proud to maintain.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with JPaks – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I specialize in custom, handmade bike packing and bike touring gear for the most demanding user. I personally design, manufacture and sell all JPaks with these two hands here in Colorado and I specialize in that one-on-one customer approach. I’d say people know me by my high level of quality in construction as well as innovative and highly specialized designs that are forward-thinking.
While I’m not the first to have done a fully bolted frame bag (zero velcro!) I’ve been proud to take that approach to mount and add-in my own take on the design to make some of the cleanest and strongest fully bolted frame bags on the market. Along with refining that design, I’ve been fortunate to work with some amazing clients over the years that believe in what I was preaching.
This year has been particularly special as I partnered with Corvid Cycles out of Boulder for fully custom titanium frames that also include fully custom JPaks with an emphasis on fully bolted wherever possible. Customers are able to receive a ‘turn-key’ adventure machine that’s ready to tackle the world!
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
2021 holds a few hopeful changes but the biggest being a move to a larger facility to handle the growing demands of the business and along with that will come the investment (hopefully) in some new team members to join the JPaks team and take things to the next level.
- Address: 3217 E Colfax Ave, Denver CO 80220
- Website: www.jpaks.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: j_paks