RICHMOND -- They are three words that make a parent's blood run cold during the Christmas gift-giving season: Some assembly required.
They were a welcome sight Saturday to employees of Richmond's Parker Hannifin, who showed up at the company's production facility to assemble close to 90 bicycles that will be donated to the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program.
The bikes were purchased at a discount from Huffy Bikes, in part because most were unassembled boxes of parts. Parker Hannifin plant manager John Ewing said his employees prefer it that way.
"Being a factory that assembles products," Ewing said, "I think if we would have bought the bikes completely assembled it would have been a letdown. The team-building exercise, having the families come, having the fellowship among each other, just strengthens the unity that we have."
Parker Hannifin produces valves and regulators for the semiconductor and oil and gas industries. Approximately 30 employees and members of their families turned out for Saturday's volunteer effort. None was more uniquely qualified for the task than Francisco Navarro, a metal finisher and biking enthusiast who showed up with his own tools.
"That's my hobby," he said. "I build all my bikes. I've got a single speed, I've got a road bike, I've got a mountain bike. I've got all kinds of bikes."
Navarro, who was so enthused about the volunteer opportunity that he believes he "was one of the first ones to sign up," said he assembles his own bikes after obtaining parts off Craigslist. Before half the boxes had been distributed to the volunteers Saturday, he already had put together a multispeed bicycle.
"Real easy," he said. "A piece of cake. If I've got all the tools and components, I can build my own bike in an hour from scratch."
Union steward Jeremy Frye, a mountain biker, showed up wearing a festive green and red hat with bells.
"It's one of the big things for us to get involved in as much community service as we possibly can," he said, putting the finishing touches on a multispeed bike. Meanwhile, his partner, Leanne Rodrigues, was working on a small bike with the kinds of tassels and frills that would make it a young girl's dream.
"This is such a cute bike," said Rodrigues, who was wearing a headband with antlers. "Somebody's going to be really excited to get this."
It reminded her of a bike she once received as a girl.
"It was a 10-speed, orange," she said. "I had to sit in Santa's lap and ask for it. He brought it. It was awesome."
It was the second consecutive weekend that Frye and Rodrigues had participated in a Toys for Tots event.
"It's good to give back," Rodrigues said. "You've got to do that."
Giving back is a tradition at Parker Hannifin, which held its own Toys for Tots drive for seven years, donating approximately 2,000 bikes in the process, before joining forces with the Marine Corps Reserve campaign.
"These bikes will go locally here in Richmond," said Ewing, who was accompanied by his wife and two sons, "and that's one of our stipulations. Being a local business and factory here in Richmond we want to give back to this community."
Contact Gary Peterson at 925-952-5053. Follow him at Twitter.com/garyscribe.