Cycle Barn 2010

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Cycle Barn

Breathe in, Breathe out

With the recent recession, rumors about various dealers have been rampant. Who's folding, who's not paying their taxes, who's for sale and the list goes on.

One such dealer that was caught up in the locker room fodder was Cycle Barn.
Our first interview with Cycle Barn was back in the summer of 1999 when they were a medium sized dealership, had two buildings on one lot on Highway 99 and were poised to grow.

Over the years the company expanded, rebranding itself with an umbrella organization of the Cycle Barn Motorsports Group. Their stable included Lynnwood Cycle Barn, Harley-Davidson of Seattle, The Karting Center, The Motorsports Restoration Center, The CB Outlet Center and eventually a Smokey Point Cycle Barn. Their OEM's included Harley-Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Triumph, Yamaha and several Asian brands such as E-Ton and Kymco.

With the economy on a roll, the Motorsports Group gave in to Harley Davidson's repeated requests to segregate the Japanese and British OEM lines in the Lynnwood store to another building elsewhere. Owner Jim Boltz purchased land and designed and constructed a purpose-built state of the art dealership a mile north on Highway 99 and moved the Lynnwood Cycle Barn next to a Value Village. By late 2006 the company's payroll went to a high of 265 employees.

And then the economy swung the other direction. As early as 2007, upper management began scaling down purchases and depleting the large inventory of new motorcycles for that model year, consisting of multiples of every model in every color offered by Honda, Kawasaki and Triumph. By early 2008 the economy tanked and sales dropped respectively. Now began a painful belt tightening that could have spelled the end for the company.

The first to go was the new store in Lynnwood on upper Highway 99. Much to H-D's dislike, the Japanese and British OEMS returned to their original home sitting side by side against their American counterparts. It's tough for an OEM, even H-D, to argue with a longtime dealer about what to put where when times get tough.
The Motorsports Restoration Center had been moved to the now vacant building next to Value Village, but the City of Lynnwood would not issue a license for painting services and a sizable profit center went dry. Any paintwork was now subbed out.

The Karting Center was terminated, followed shortly by the Outlet Center. Both occupied the original Lynnwood Cycle Barn location. Now that building was available for rent, but there were no takers.

The economy continued to spiral downward with no end in sight. In the Spring of 2010 Boltz approached a longtime friend, Ed Lemco, and the two struck a deal for Lemco to take control and later ownership of Seattle Harley-Davidson. This meant all the Japanese and British OEM products had to go elsewhere. The most likely place was back down the hill to the now vacant Cycle Barn store, but before the stock transfer took place the Kawasaki line was dropped. In September the Lemco deal closed and the Seattle Harley-Davidson name gave way to its new name, Lynnwood Harley-Davidson.

At the same time Boltz took over day to day operations of Cycle Barn. Long time GM Craig Southey departed and CFO Gary Harper was positioned into a mostly off-site capacity.

Boltz is a dynamic force in the local industry. His enthusiastic and upbeat way of doing business is what propelled Cycle Barn from a mid-size dealership into a full blown motorsports group in the middle of the decade. That enthusiasm continues to this day. And when the economy reared its head backwards, Boltz remained in control, making the necessary adjustments with each drop on the balance sheet. Instead of walking away or filing bankruptcy, Boltz went back to his first love, Cycle Barn. Today the company continues to function much the way it did 15 years ago, before its optimistic expansion. At its longtime headquarters, gear and accessories are sold on the top floor, bikes from Honda, Triumph and Kymco are sold on the middle floor and service is done on the lower floor. The Smokey Point store continues to operate and has been relocated south of its original digs. The company now has a collective payroll of 40+ employees.

Déjà Vu?

Boltz comments - "To me it feels like the way it was 20 years ago and I kind of like that. Our staff includes some of the most dedicated motorcycle people in the business. We invite all enthusiasts to come visit us to find out for themselves."

TM/Fall 2010

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