A Dream That Became a Reality

A Dream That Became a Reality

HB Cycle began as the vision of three young people who were passionate about motorcycles and the motorcycle business. Their dream was to offer a friendly store where enthusiasts could meet and share their love for the sport.

The business originated as a two-man operation offering sales and service of Suzuki motorcycles. Phil Hodgson and Jeff Busche had left employer Lindsay Cycle to start a more sport oriented motorcycle store. These young men had a love of racing and racing motorcycles that could not be denied. The dream almost did not become a reality as, at the very last minute, the powers that be at Suzuki realized that the new company was rather underfunded. When they relayed the news to the potential dealers one afternoon, panic set in. The building had been leased for three years; hats, shirts, and business cards had been printed. Heck, even the paper had said they were opening Saturday.

The executives from Suzuki were surprised to find Phil and Jeff standing in their office at 9 am the next morning basically demanding a dealer number. What followed was a passionate debate about motorcycles and what makes a great dealership. With Suzuki staff members from sales, service and finance grilling Phil and Jeff, the young warriors promised to make up for their lack of cash with hard work, determination, smart marketing, and superb customer service. The Suzuki Brass eventually consented to give them a try but let them know the odds were stacked heavily against them. “That boardroom conference still stands out in my mind as one of the scariest moments of my life. It was exhilarating to win them over one by one,” reflects Phil.

Hodgson clearly remembers the night before the store opened as if it were yesterday. “We had just been given our Suzuki approvals and Jeff was traveling to the city in a borrowed truck,” he reminisces. “He had made two trips to get all the bikes in and we were struggling to unload the crates without a fork lift. Our friends started showing up and helping assemble motorcycles. When I say friends, I mean mechanics and people from our industry that knew what they were doing and were donating their time for free.”

“We worked Friday night until 4 o’clock in the morning. It was five hours until our grand opening. We walked outside and realized that a late March storm had dropped a foot of snow and it was still coming. I was devastated, thinking no one would be able to make it to our event. The drive home for a few hours sleep was the worst I had seen in years. By morning the storm had cleared as I arrived to work. I was greeted by an impassable parking lot and no snow removal equipment. Suddenly a local farmer, Bill Gorrill, appeared out of nowhere with a tractor and snowblower . He cleared our lot and then left with a wave out his back window. I then suddenly felt things were going to be okay.”

1989-looking-a-little-shell-shocked-on-our-first-day“We opened the doors at 9 am and people started rolling in. Everyone was so excited. Lots of people stayed all day. The parking lot was full and cars lined the highway. We knew then we had the support of our community and that we were here to stay,” remembers Hodgson.

Phil and Jeff were proud to sell their first motorcycle to a woman, Lindsay resident and high school friend, Cindy Walker. It reinforced the fact that the owners wanted a bike shop that was family friendly and pushed aside the old school bike shop stereotype of the day. HB Cycle took off running after that opening day and became one of the top Suzuki dealers in the province in their first year of business.

As the news spread through the industry that HB Cycle was, in their words, “Puttin’ fun back on two wheels”, other manufacturers took notice and came calling on the business. Bombardier was the first order of business as Hodgson knew Skidoo snowmobiles were crucial to the company’s year-round survival. In the fall of 1989 the first Skidoo snowmobiles arrived giving HB Cycle something to offer their loyal customers during the winter months. Soon it was Yamaha knocking on the door as the motorcycle and ATV lines were added, and finally Kawasaki added the colour green to the showroom, giving HB Cycle “big-city selection with small-town service”.

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