PERU — When he was 13 years old, Zac See started making special trips, after completing his paper route on Saturday mornings, to drop off a newspaper at the Breakaway Bike and Fitness Shop.
The newspaper delivery was more than just a stop on the route, though — it was an excuse for the budding bike enthusiast to hang out with the morning regulars sipping coffee and talking shop about the latest and greatest two-wheelers.
“I’d be the kid that hung out and always bugged the guys for an hour or two,” he said with a grin.
The Saturday morning stops paid off, because the owners at the time ended up offering the 14-year-old a job.
Zac started out changing tires and doing other basic mechanical work, but quickly picked up on the ins and outs of fixing and repairing bikes. He also made it a point to eavesdrop when the sales guys talked with customers.
“By the time I was 15, I was comfortable going out on the floor and selling somebody a $1,000 bike,” he said. “Then I’d go back and turn wrenches again after I was done doing that.”
Zac worked at Breakaway until he graduated from Peru High School in 1997, when he left for college and ended up earning a degree in engineering from Purdue University.
Nine years later, Zac was working at the shop again, but not as a mechanic or sales guy. This time, he co-owned the place with his wife, Shannon.
Since then, Zac and Shannon have transformed Breakaway into one of the most pre-eminent bike shops in the local cycling community, offering a diverse line of bikes and cycling gear and a wide-range of mechanical services.
Zac and Shannon may own the shop now, but it was two Peru firefighters who first envisioned the creation of professional bike shop in Peru 25 years ago.