25 Years of Changing with the Times

25 Years of Changing with the Times

One thing about being in business for a quarter of a century is that you get to see a lot of things change.

HB Cycle started as a two-person operation in a 2,800 square-foot store. Now the company has over twenty employees and an accumulated 20,000 square-feet of buildings sprawled across fi ve acres. Originally located on Highway 7, west of Lindsay, the company moved to their present location on Highway 35, north of Lindsay in 1995. The need for more space was almost immediate as the new businessmen were surprised at how many folks wanted their motorcycles and ATVs serviced. Sales of Suzuki motorcycles and ATVs were brisk in the early days as well, and Phil and Jeff knew they needed help and more space. Phil’s long-time friend, Mike Francis, signed on with the company and added some energy and much-needed organizational skills to the fast-growing business. Jeff Busche moved on to the corporate world, going to work with Suzuki Canada.

A lucky break happened in 1995 when the permanent home of HB Cycle came on the market and the boys knew right away they had found their new home. As Mike worked on renovating the store, Phil worked away at the Highway 7 location on crutches thanks to a poorly timed broken ankle.

The new location was an instant success and business started to go through the roof. It was shortly after that time that Linda Hodgson would put her career in the printing business on hold and come to work at HB Cycle fulltime. The customers responded well to the female influence as the neater, tidier store started to evolve again. Linda expanded the clothing, accessory and helmet offerings. She also instituted regular sales and clearance items and made the accessory department start to hum.

The next few years rolled by and the HB crew saw their sales start to level off. As HB Cycle turned fifteen and Phil turned 40, his father, Ralph Hodgson uttered the words, “Well, are you ready for another fifteen years?”

Those words started the wheels turning in Phil’s mind. It was time for another major step. Phil had always dreamt of a beautiful new store with high ceilings, bright lights and room to display everything. He was also aware that they could only sell so many powersport ‘toys’ in their area. If they were going to get their dream building they were going to have to expand into other markets.

It was during a trip to a motorcycle race in Ohio that inspiration came to Hodgson. Looking around the pits and in the crowd camped around the racetrack, Phil noticed many of the camping trailers seemed to have garages as well as living quarters. Upon further investigation, the trailers, known as toy haulers, seemed to be the perfect fi t. As a former racer himself, Hodgson new right away these would be the perfect solution for many motorcycle and ATV owners. This would allow them to go to a race track, hunting or south for the winter and have their toy with them, plus a comfortable bed.

Immediately upon his return, Hodgson drove across town to local trailer manufacturer, Fleetwood, and asked to be set up. “Not so fast, son,” they said and demanded that HB Cycle take on a full line of travel trailers as well as the toy hauler models.

After selling the idea to the staff, Hodgson made the move. The company was renamed HB Cycle and Outdoor Centre and a new chapter in the story had begun.

Sadly, only a couple years later the local trailer plant was closed, but not before HB Cycle had won Fleetwood’s Circle of Excellence as Canada’s biggest Fleetwood toy hauler dealer. The silver lining was that the HB Cycle RV division gained some excellent employees that knew the ins and outs of building a trailer.

With the new revenue stream, or a second job as Phil called it, now was the time to build his dream building. A late night vision got Phil out of bed one evening as he drew up plans for a new facility that would make it possible for both businesses to share the property and work in harmony. Over the next two years the structure was built in segments. The laborers worked around the staff in order to make sure HB could remain open to serve their valued customers.

2014-showroomWith a beautiful new showroom, the HB crew were finally able to display their products in breathtaking fashion. It is quite common for first-time visitors to utter the word, “Wow!” upon entering as their eyes are assaulted with a sea of colour and chrome. Linda’s accessory department boasts over 400 helmets in stock and all the clothing and safety gear to make sure customers can be properly outfitted to enjoy their sport in comfort and safety.

Sea-doo water craft are the latest edition to HB Cycle’s impressive product offerings, and with that HB Cycle can be part of your day off in the dirt, on pavement, at the campground or on the water.

From humble beginnings to becoming the premier powersports store in the Kawarthas, HB Cycle and Outdoor Centre has undergone a steady evolution over the years. Any change involves some risk, but thanks to their fantastic staff and loyal customers, HB has turned risk into rewarding success. In the words of one of Phil’s many friends and advisors, “You will never get to second base by standing on first!”

 

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