Monday, February 03, 2014

THE RAILWAY ENGINEER

Valen Zhou on the 'ER', his second custom build on a 1986 Kawasaki 125cc
Last year I had the pleasure of introducing the work of photographer and custom bike builder Valen Zhou of Chengdu, China to a global audience; his work on the 'Monstub' soon appeared in BikeExif and subsequently all over the Internet.  The Monstub was his first customized motorcycle, and indicated considerable talent in Valen's hands.  I'm happy to share his second custom motorcycle, which he calls the 'ER', which is an homage to his grandfather, a railway engineer, who helped raise Valen.  His absorption of the tools of his grandfather's trade into the very body of his latest motorcycle is a beautiful statement of Valen's sincerity as a moto-artisan.
Valen Zhou's ER on the freeways of Chengdu, China
Here's the story in his words (all photos courtesy Valen Zhou 2014):

"In October 2013, Valen Zhou from Chengdu, China, built his first custom motorcycle. The story of his motorcycle was published in The Vintagent shortly after; a lot of people wanted to know what he would do next. Valen has finally finished his second motorcycle, which is to honor his grandfather, which he calls “ER”—the engineer of the railway.
The fuel tank is handmade, and used a piston for a filler cap, with an external fuel level gauge, very much in the spirit of steam engines
Valen lost his grandfather (who was 86 years old) in 2012; he grew up with him, and was proud he had such a cool grandfather, who was a railway and mechanical fuel technology engineer, working in the early 1950s, forming a new nation of Chinese industry. In those hard times, he was the one of engineers who built the four important railways in China. When he retired in 1986, Valen liked to sit next to his grandfather and watched him make toys. Valen says: “I still remember that time.” Valen liked bicycles so much, his grandfather said: “If you want one, just build it yourself,” and perhaps that’s why Valen likes doing things all by himself.
The secondary chain connects to a kickstart lever.  The rear subframe has been refabricated, although it retains a swingarm for comfort
After Valen’s grandfather passed away, his grandmother gave him a box, and she told him it was his grandfather’s treasure. His grandfather treated that box just like his own life. Valen opened the box; there were so many tools in it, some of them he was familiar with, but some of them he had never seen before. All of those tools were used by his grandfather when he worked on railways. Valen used these tools on his new motorcycle to show his respect to his grandfather. He felt his grandfather would be there with him when he rode his new motorcycle.
On of Valen's grandfather's open-end wrenches serves as a brake lever
Valen totally rebuilt a 1987 Kawasaki 250 in a totally different manner from his previous machine, to be more efficient and practical and used his grandfather’s tools to make the motorcycle special. He used one of his grandfather’s screwdrivers instead of a gear lever, and he bent a wrench to use for the kickstand. He cut two fire extinguishers apart and put them together in another way to make an oil box. The handlebars were made at an angle so that he would feel more comfortable riding it. Valen was obsessed with these details, and spent whole nights sewing his seat and polishing his back drum. A motorcycle in the spirit of the railway.
From the side, the steep front forks and high handlebars look almost Speedway
Valen thought his second hand-made motorcycle would take three or four weeks to build, but there were many situations and inspirations he couldn’t figure out. He is so new to the world of motorcycles. Nevertheless, he finished it. After the Chinese New Year he will go to Italy, which is like a paradise to him. There are a lot of classic motorcycles from Italy, and he can find any type of motorcycle that he wants there. He will learn more skills about how to rebuild motorcycles so that he will make his work better."

28 comments:

john s said...

I am sorry Paul, but you are losing me. Your obsession with motorcycles as abstract art or some statement totally unrelated to the sport is bizarre. This bike is cartoonish, amateur in construction, and totally unpractical for any use other than to stare at in disbelief and maybe elicit a chuckle or two. This is motorcycle deconstruction. You have veered way off the vintage motorcycle course, and instead seem to be focused on some form of biker lifestyle. Tres chic friends with bikes that are more about art than machine, more about a statement than how it performs. Very little thought about the engineering involved. I have no problem if someone wants to use a motorcycle as a canvas, I apreciate art, but to treat/present/review said object as a functioning motorcycle is off-base. I wonder how many or your compatriots have made fun of choppers and the "Harley lifestyle"? I see no difference.

The Vintagent said...

Hi John,
thanks for your comments, they've helped me clarify a few thoughts. Please read on:

First, my stated focus for TheVintagent is Motorcycles and their place in our culture, and that's a pretty wide swath. To ignore customs and choppers seems a case of prejudice or willful ignorance, as from the latter half of the 20th Century these categories have had a massive cultural impact. Custom bikes are the most exciting branch of motorcycling at the moment, a locus of tremendous creative energy; the Industry has noticed, and begun tapping the most talented builders for collaboration; BMW, Yamaha, Triumph, etc. 100% of these custom builders love/collect/ride old motorcycles, and their enthusiasm has caught the attention of young riders - old bikes are 'cool' again. This is the most positive development for the old bike hobby since Classic Bike magazine was founded in 1978. Remember, in 2011 the New York Times published an article titled 'Is the Era of the Motorcycle Over?'...that question has been resoundingly answered recently, and we have the custom scene to thank.

Second, I've been an artist as long as I've been a motorcyclist; both live deep in my bones. The relationship of Art and Motorcycles is very much 'on the radar' of both spheres at the moment, via the custom scene, with young moto-artisans pushing hard at the boundaries of the Art world. I find this important, as did the Guggenheim Museum, by including customs in their 'Art of the Motorcycle' exhibit. Art critic Robert Hughes lamented in Time magazine that this exhibit didn't include more choppers as examples of Folk Art. I've picked up this thread, and my next book (with Gestalten) is called 'Chopper'. And no, The Vintagent will not become a Chopper Blog.

So, you can see I feel quite strongly that Valen Zhou's machine is not 'totally unrelated to the sport'; in fact I find it at the very heart of the sport as we find it today...and every other magazine editor would no doubt agree. To access what is happening with old bikes today (my personal passion), I'm happy to walk into terra incognita for a Vintagent. The custom scene is easy; its participants are old bike fans, and thus fans of The Vintagent. The chopper scene is far more daunting!

john s said...

Hi Paul, First off, thanks for listening. I agree on the amount of synergy in the custom bike world at the moment. I also agree on there is a place for the "art of the motorcycle", but as always in a conversation like this, we get to the question what is art. For this discussion I would change the question. When does a motorcycle become not a motorcycle, but an art medium. Also, if it was created to be an artistic statement and not an object to be ridden, what media should cover this piece of art?
I do disagree that this type of motorcycle is "at the heart of the sport". There are many custom builders that are building bikes that are improved over stock designs, that integrate the engineering with the aesthetics with exquisite execution clearly showing off their skills as craftsmen. These are the bikes and artists I find at the heart. I ride and build, because I love motors and the machines. Of course I love to show off a new restoration or build. However I dont ride a bike that is built just to try and draw attention to itself or rider. I do understand subjectivity and how it pertains to this conversation and I love the old adage, "there is an ass for every seat". I wonder though was the bike built just to make conversation,a statement, or to ride because the ride is the true "heart of the sport".

The Vintagent said...

We agree that riding is the thing; it's what gives the motorcycle such a potent place in our lives.

You raise a very important question regarding motorcycle/art - when is a motorcycle no longer a motorcycle? After much rumination and discussion, I see a dichotomy which may be unbridgeable between the two: what makes a motorcycle special is the visceral experience of riding, which is totally addictive and life-changing, and at times transcendent similar to the best 'art experience', but arrived at in very different ways.

I've never stared at a motorcycle and been moved like I have with a painting, but I've ridden a bike and been moved thus. Can a motorcycle be so visually compelling that viewers are moved to tears? I'm open to that possibility, but sometimes wonder if artist/motorcyclists are barking up the wrong tree!

Grandpa Jimbo said...

Paul, you know what I ride and I can see both sides. When I pull up to my friend's garage, Star Cycle, he pulls over a box and says he just likes to look at it. Then he sits down and does just that. I can see art also in looking at it. But it also embodies all that I could possibly want in a motorcycle to ride. Scary fast for someone my age, a work of art to look at, handles way past my comfort zone and I ride it whenever I can.
So I say, "well tried" the both of you! Jim A.

GuitarSlinger said...

First off .. and in response to the earlier criticism ... let me say I personally enjoy the diversity that you continually present on the site even when I either don't like it or its outside my range of interests . Like it or not ... I always walk away learning something

Second ... watching this young man grow as a custom bike builder gets more interesting by the minute . I can't wait to see what the effect of his trip to Italy will have on his work down the road . Having said that I personally prefer the 1st bike he did ... but understand and appreciate the reasons behind this one as well

Third .. As an 'artist ' myself [ the moniker says it all ] .. a double two thumbs up ... +1 and what ever other positive accolades one can express about your ' Artist ' response . Same for including Robert Hughes [ an all time favorite ] comments as well ....Well said good sir

Lastly ... as a long time ' Kit Basher ' .. from my model building days ... to cars and bikes I've built ... and right down to the compositions I write [ many award winning I might add ] I say .... keep posting these ' customs ' and their builders in and amongst all the classics and vintage bikes .

As Big Sid was so fond of saying ;

" Stock is a can of beans on a shelf "

Cheers Paul ! And please do keep updating Valen's progress . My gut says this kid's really going to become one of the greats .

Graham Motzing said...

I dunno about you guys, but either of my grandpas would have kicked my ass for welding their tools to a custom motorcycle.

You can go to any motorcycle show in america on any weekend and see 10 bikes that are generic junk heap builds with questionable fabrication and little artistic statement. I think the OCC boys have proven that just because you weld themed junk to a motorcycle, it doesn't make it art. Art doesn't pull punches and it doesn't handicap, Chengdu , Milwaukee or Milan, this is just the same mashup everyone else is building, and many of the other builders' look a lot better.

The Monstub build at least has something to say, has lines and a sculptural quality.

No personal offense meant to Paul or the builder, this one misses the mark.

Hairy Larry said...

I get a kick out of this kid in China foolin' around with motorcycles. It takes me back to being a kid in the 60's fooling around with bikes, watching other kids fooling around with bikes...having some fun. I like his first bike more...but the second one has a quirky chopper/speedway/oddballness about it...once again taking me back to stuff guys were putting together in metal shop class (back in the day when you could have a shop class and work on bikes, forge hunting knives, even work on your hunting rifles...sigh, the good ol' days..)anyway, it'll be interesting to see where he goes from here...

typingtalker said...

Fundamentally, motorcycles are two wheeled, powered vehicles designed for inexpensive, reliable transportation. The Honda Cub in developing countries (and the USA in the 1960s) and the earliest motorcycles in Europe and America are examples. As with all powered utility vehicles over time, motorcycles have been raced, glamorized and converted into personal statements and lifestyle choices. In most cases, however, motorcycles are a great way to get around, for work or pleasure, safely and reliably.
The job of the engineer is to make his motorcycles more reliable, faster, more efficient, lighter and better performing than his competition or his last design. In concert with his company’s stylists, he works to make them more … visually appealing.
The motorcycle customizer generally creates a vehicle that on the whole performs more poorly than the bike he started with -- which is OK because it’s the visual appeal that he’s going after. Engineers may like the look of a custom bike but they know that performance and reliability have almost always been sacrificed for looks.
For some, a motorcycle is the starting point for a visually unique personal vehicle. Is it style? Is it a hobby? Is it a personal statement? Is it beautiful? Is it art? Everybody is entitled to an opinion but art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
This motorcycle reminds me of the real world of steam power. Locomotives and stationary engines didn’t have to be light or beautiful but they had to be reliable. They depended on skilled operators and craftsmen that used the tools and parts available to operate and control their monsters with little concern for style or beauty and not one thought about art. This motorcycle recalls that past in a way that is interesting. And maybe artful. Thanks for writing about it.

typingtalker said...

Fundamentally, motorcycles are two wheeled, powered vehicles designed for inexpensive, reliable transportation. The Honda Cub in developing countries (and the USA in the 1960s) and the earliest motorcycles in Europe and America are examples. As with all powered utility vehicles over time, motorcycles have been raced, glamorized and converted into personal statements and lifestyle choices. In most cases, however, motorcycles are a great way to get around, for work or pleasure, safely and reliably.

The job of the engineer is to make his motorcycles more reliable, faster, more efficient, lighter and better performing than his competition or his last design. In concert with his company’s stylists, he works to make them more … visually appealing.

The motorcycle customizer generally creates a vehicle that on the whole performs more poorly than the bike he started with -- which is OK because it’s the visual appeal that he’s going after. Engineers may like the look of a custom bike but they know that performance and reliability have almost always been sacrificed for looks.

For some, a motorcycle is the starting point for a visually unique personal vehicle. Is it style? Is it a hobby? Is it a personal statement? Is it beautiful? Is it art? Everybody is entitled to an opinion but art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

This motorcycle reminds me of the real world of steam power. Locomotives and stationary engines didn’t have to be light or beautiful but they had to be reliable. They depended on skilled operators and craftsmen that used the tools and parts available to operate and control their monsters with little concern for style or beauty and not one thought about art. This motorcycle recalls that past in a way that is interesting. And maybe artful. Thanks for writing about it.

Anonymous said...

I have been a regular reader of this blog in the past but as I am busy in my restoration workshop pretty much full time, I only visit occasionally these days. Sometimes I like what I see but more often I realise why The Vintagent is no longer in my daily diet.

I wish this Chinese kid no ill will but these 'creations' are not art, they are what we used to call 'bitzas' at best or 'junk' at worst. Apart from anything they look downright dangerous to my fairly skilled eye.

The real motorcycle artists are the skilled engineers and craftsmen who manufacture the machines from raw materials to properly worked out designs on paper.

The use of parts for another purpose than what they were designed for is also a long tradition, and is called 'bodging' - great for a get-you-home repair but not something most folk are proud of, its about practical problems being overcome in the short term, to be fixed once the correct replacement can be bought or fabricated.

As I can't attach a link here, I can't share some of my recent work, but I will try and send you a separate email, Paul.

Kind regards

Marticelli

Most of the components Valen has employed he couldn't possibly make himself or even make a start! He's just an artless kid who got lucky to get this sort of exposure... Good luck to him but don't worship him!

camerabanger said...

Art is like Porn-I can't define it but I know it when I see it...
This is art. It gives me a twist and my eyes open wide and my heart says "Kewl!!!"

Thanks for bringing this guy to my attention.

john s said...

Yes, but is it ride-able? Really.

The Vintagent said...

Marticelli, I heartily disagree with you. Valen's ER is not 'about' engineering, it is solely about one man's aesthetic creation, raising his voice in a global conversation about motorcycles which is currently at a high pitch of interest.

You may not feel privy to or even remotely interested in this conversation, but hundreds of thousands of young people are discovering and being turned on to motorcycles this way. As nearly all the motorcycles featured in Custom websites like BikeExif are older machines, there is a significant spill-over of interest in standard bikes as well. I see any young person becoming interested in old bikes as a good thing. The number of greybeards owning/riding old bikes far outweighs the young people, who are a tiny minority, which bodes ill for the future of old bikes. I support, in my small way, this 'scene', because it includes old bikes. My friends who build customs are all old bike fanatics.

Also, motorcycle engineers are not artists, they are engineers. Dismissing the work of a young artist as 'junk' because his concerns are not strictly mechanical sounds Soviet in its harshness. If we are to encourage young people to enjoy old bikes, I suggest we simply encourage them. Valen knows he's not working at Ducati; he's working with what he can find.

Anonymous said...

I think the reaction that some are having to The Railway Engineer's art is based on their own motorcycle esthetic. I think I have an esthetic that is pretty common, in that whatever you do to a motorcycle that's creative(AKA-artistic), you must not make the bike less functional or less safe. Ideally, your efforts make the bike a piece of art as well as a better motorcycle. Creating ART in the form of a motorcycle has a much greater challenge if you follow this esthetic, than if you don't.

I can sit for hours mulling over how to make an assembly more interesting as well as more functional. Then go about executing that, successfully or not. If not, back to the drawing boards. If you want an interesting front wheel, figure out how to do it without ditching the front brake!

Another component of the esthetic is craftsmanship. Whether you like what he does or not, Shimya Kimura's creations show craftsmanship as well as a sense of art and high functionality. Not so sure about Valen's.

Lastly, so many of the Art bikes appear to be deathtraps on wheels, if they run at all. Maybe they're art, but they're not motorcycles in my eyes.

Rhynchocephalian said...

Practical..., I see it as practical with its displacement adequate to its operation. Its looks to be pleasant and playful for experienced operators. And that is that, Cogs for wheels that move the rail cars higher into the mountains in search for coal. Trains of commerce moved by knowledgeable operators. No, this may not be every ones machine, Though, a machine it is.

Rhynchocephalian said...

Practical..., I see it as practical with its displacement adequate to its operation. Its looks to be pleasant and playful for experienced operators. And that is that, Cogs for wheels that move the rail cars higher into the mountains in search for coal. Trains of commerce moved by knowledgeable operators. No, this may not be every ones machine, Though, a machine it is.

David Blasco said...

I've enjoyed the discussion almost as much as seeing the bike itself. Not much of a mechanic or an artist myself, but I would just say that even a bad idea inspires thought. We learn more from our mistakes than our successes. "Unobjectionable" is not really much of a compliment to any machine, is it? Although -- ouch -- I hate the thought of damaging the original tools. Maybe one would have been enough of a tribute to grandpa?

occhiolungo said...

John S said "if it was created to be an artistic statement and not an object to be ridden, what media should cover this piece of art?"

I'm all about riding bikes as the functional tools that their makers intended. But many people like to think of them as art these days. That's fine. One could argue that they are Craft, not Art, but we have now seen so many bikes that are nonfunctional and unrideable and can only be considered art. But if we are looking at Art with a capital A, then where are the critical reviews of said art? Surely there are some writers/builders/critics/artists who are qualified to ask the important art questions: What are the artist's intentions? What statement is he making? How is he bringing the field forward? Or is he just repeating or replicating the previous work of other artists? What are his influences and how do they relate? How does this work speak to society, to the riders, builders, critics, customers, etc? How will this art be remembered in the future, as an influence, as breaking new ground, as a statement on current conditions, or will it be quickly forgotten? And yes, how are the artist's skills, his ability to do his craft? His brushwork, his composition, his welding, machining, etc?

In short, when do we start treating this new artistic field like the other fields such as painting or sculpture?

Without some critical reviews and discussions, then all modified bikes are considered to be ART and all are equal. That is pointless and diminishes the efforts of the top artists.

I think that when we really start to think of these bikes as art, just a few will rise to the top, but the vast majority will not. There are some excellent machines out there, some are crafted very well and have thoughtful engineering. But maybe many of them are not really Art?

Bubble Visor said...

Great custom with very nice lines. Shared it on my blog, hope you don't mind :)

Hairy Larry said...

Hmmmm Folk-Art bikes? Outsider Art bikes, Cubist bikes? Realist bikes?Futurist bikes? hahaha just having some fun guys. Anybody else old enough to remember a bike Arlen Ness built in an attempt to build a better handling chopper? I believe it had more or less standard rake, but had a long front end with a lot above the top tree (or yoke...).Didn't really come off...and it was back to what was acceptable to the 'consumers'...
I find it interesting to see what goes on around the world these days with bikes and cars. It can be amusing to see how people in other places see life in the states, and how it gets reflected in fashion,cars, bikes,...'lifestyles'. I'm turning a '71 Honda SL 350 into a cross between a 'street tracker' and a 'cafe' bike. With the huge price that prototype Honda 750 made recently, it'll probably rankle some purists that I'm using an early K1 750 tank on it...that yes will be Kustom painted.(and possibly raced at DirtQuake USA).
As a younger man I was more of an 'Anorak'...but as I age I'm getting more like an artist friend of mine who has been known to say..."Its my bike...I'll do what I want with it".

Capion mc said...

I am sorry. I gave up reading the comments after the first few. We all love, I hope, vintage motos. These bikes were built for a reason cheap transport or speed, to sell cheap transport.
Today motos are a generally luxury as opposed to a necessity.
Do not forget that the most sought after vintage motos are those built by pioneers of their day.
Paul is highlighting the next generation of pioneers, building motos for their personal ideas of where riding is in the 21st century.
Who would of thought that a touch from VonDutch would turn into $$$$
Only the future will tell where this new breed of builders will end up, but as far as moto journalism goes Paul is playing folk on an electric guitare.

Thank you Paul.

Anonymous said...

Hi Paul,
I'm writing this email just after my lower jaw fell off by reading "the railway engineer" post.

In fact I'm upset. Not after you, but after all those "comments".

I'm sick and tired of those people who can only judge and denigrate a bike, without seeing the amount of work and passion on it. You can say 'I don't like this bike" but you can't say "this bike is shite". That's what upsets me. That's sad cos, generally, they are the same persons who can't handle a tool by themselves. Maybe that's the problem! But I don't blame them. In fact at the end I don't care about them.

But the real reason of this email is just to say a big THANK YOU!

Thank you so much to put posts like this: fresh, original and unconventional. I'm bored to see
custom bikes calling themselves custom bikes just by the amount of catalogue-ready-to-mount-parts on it with no souls. I know your blog since a while and the first time I saw Valen's work (which is amazing), I already -by the time- hesitate to send you a note like this, just to say thanks. Also, by reading this article I realized that his story was quite like mine, the love of motorcycles and a blacksmith as a grandfather who teaches me a lot like the love and respect for fire and metal, above all. So, double thanks.

Anyway, keep posting bikes like this, bikes made with soulfull dedication. Valen's philosophy is THE philosophy. As a metal maker myself, here's two pictures of my bike, just to share a passion with no expectation in return. I hope you'll enjoy it.

Again, thanks and keep up the good work.

cheers Paul!

The Vintagent said...

While people have been customizing their motorcycles since the 'Teens, it was usually towards utility or better performance. In the 1960s, something new emerged; bikes altered for style, regardless of performance degradation.

This trend is over 50 years old, and is having a major resurgence today. Why now? And why do motorcyclists feel the need to express themselves in such manner?

It's pointless to cast stones at the people who choose to build customs; they're part of a multi-generation tradition, 'doing their own thing', but in a definite context.

I'm researching the origins of this impulse for my next book with Gestalten, 'Chopper; the True History'. We'll see what turns up!

Anonymous said...

A big driver of custom bikes called Tritons was Norton's refusal to sell Formula 500 race car builders Manx engines they wanted to stay competitive. Norton insisted on selling only complete bikes so a heap of Manx rolling chassis were lying around unused, having been robbed of their engines. Some wise fellow thought that putting a Triumph engine into one might make a better than the poor handling Triumphs of the day, and the Triton was born.

And they were well engineering in the main for obvious reasons!

Marticelli

madeofwhite.com said...

Was it Socrates who said; ' The unexamined life is not worth living '. Regardless conversations like these are fascinating. Henrik Hansens short film on Shinya clarified some of these things in my mind and is probably worth revisiting. A comment Shinya makes in the film that a bike is incomplete till it is ridden is an essential part of that jigsaw. Motorcycles have a utilitarian function that no other Art medium has and to my mind is what separates bikes (if you are going to view them through the same lense) from the more mainstream disciplines of painting, sculpture etc. This duality of purpose is what tips them into the craft category for me; beautiful, skilful craft but craft nonetheless. Whether that lessons your enjoyment of them is a whole other argument but for me they are all roses no matter what name you give them.

Anonymous said...

I wrote the comment last year about form following function concerning his first build. Interestingly.. I was the only one then who didn't buy it but now there seems to be a flood of opinions in that favor, some very poorly communicated as well. I think this type of thing speaks to a greater point. Today there really isn't a line between good and bad. Sure, you can try and still drastically miss the mark but ultimately it depends on "who knows it". This guy, along with with a lot of other builders, is popular because the average individual can now promote themselves more easily than ever before. This is a great thing but here in America, to be able to say one was there first is still valuable currency - and the more we embrace this age of "communication", the more junk we'll have to sift through to get to the good stuff. No use in getting angry because some one else has highjacked your culture.. you, me, and everyone else traded it for a piece a long time ago.

Chris Saddler Sam said...

so many words, written about a lil bike..
thumbs up and down..
criticism vs compliments!

iom, if valen's bikes r art...
then the "dariztdesign.blogspot.com" guy is leonardo da vinci!!!

come on!

this guy was just lucky that his gf happened to interview u (paul)..
then, some nice shots..
and the rest is history!

his bikes r some kind of a mix between the "shinya kimura" and "el solitario" styles...
but with much less talent
and much less badget! :))

and that's all!
they r just a couple of lil rat-bikes!

and btw...
why r we talking about art?

has valen said anything about art?

he's a photographer, right?
and he just built 2 lil bikes,
in low badget, and on the way he had always dreamed of them!
period!
that's all!

r they functional?
for him, yes!!!
we see him riding them!

so.. who cares?
they r his bikes..
and it's his ass that's gonna hurt at the end!

:)))

cheers, vintagent and co.