Some of my friends in the motorcycle business know that due to circumstances mostly out of my control my three major work contracts dissolved over the last 12 months. First, in 2015 the well known trade publication, Dealernews was shuttered by the company that purchased it. That ended an 11-year run writing my monthly column. Then, in March of this year, Harley-Davidson University and I decided to go our separate ways as the result of a simple miscommunication that they blew out of proportion. That ended my teaching career. Lastly, this August, Harley-Davidson University, still mad at me I guess, exercised its authority to direct an unrelated Harley-Davidson department that they could no longer utilize my services. That ended my 16-year run writing for the Harley-Davidson dealer publication, ShopTalk. The shutting of these three doors essentially closed my Dako Management motorcycle business. But, to be honest, I wasn't worried, because in my life doors have closed, only to have better doors open. I knew good things were around the corner.
For example, this turn of events reminded me of 1981 when I was working as a flat-rate motorcycle tech at Camelback Honda of Phoenix. I enjoyed working there, and I liked the people I worked with. Life was good and I had no plans to leave. Then, on one fateful Monday morning one of the owner's sons wheeled his tool cabinet into the shop to work in service. I knew this guy, I had worked with him before. He was obnoxious, arrogant and rarely let a day pass that he didn't remind us that he was the boss's son and deserved preferential treatment. When I saw him enter the shop I was so upset that I immediately walked over to the parts counter and grabbed the latest issue of the weekly publication, Cycle News. I paged through the classifieds with the intent of locating a good shop in San Diego to continue my wrenching career and get away from this predicament. What I found instead was an ad for a technical trainer position at the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute. A much better door had opened — I just didn't know it yet.
Up until that point in my life, I had jumped from job to job (even in and out of the motorcycle business) and had moved from state to state. I was restless; I hadn't found my true calling. The work that would be rewarding mentally, emotionally and financially. Until the door opened to teaching in 1981. Since then I've never left the motorcycle business and, except for a brief side trip as VP of sales at Dynojet and regional rep for a motorcycle alarm system, I've been teaching and I've been writing with the goal to make you more profitable by working smarter, not harder. Teaching changed my life and I'm so glad that that irritating man walked into the shop on that cold January day so long ago.
So, to those of you who are challenged by your job, or loss of a job; who are deeply annoyed by a co-worker or manager; who feel they're in a dead-end position with no room for advancement — have faith! Not only have I experienced firsthand how life can change for the better when a door closes, I've learned from countless others how they have had their own life-changing experience when doors close. There's always light at the end of the tunnel. That said, we should all have a backup "plan B" just in case. Don't leave it all to fate!
My plan B was to get my real estate license and join my successful wife in her growing business. Since our move here to Prescott, Arizona, in 2003, she has become one of the most successful realtors in town. She holds true to a simple philosophy: Do what you say you're going to do, have fun and follow the golden rule. She does little advertising and is very busy with repeat and referral clients.
Truthfully, my plan B was supposed to start in 2018, but when the three doors closed I felt the time was right to put plan B into action now. I don't expect it to be as emotionally rewarding as teaching and writing, but it will provide me with more time with the family, more time for riding and more time for wrenching on my old bikes.
Now, please don't misunderstand the intent of this article. If you're a talented person working in the motorcycle business I don't want your plan B to involve leaving the business. The motorcycle industry needs you. Your plan B could be to work a different position in the store, work at a different store, work for a manufacturer or an aftermarket company, become a trainer like I did or even start your own business. Use your work experience to find a position within the motorcycle industry that's both challenging and fulfilling. The motorcycle community is the best group in the world to work with. It's just that for me, at age 64, it's time to try something totally different.
Dave "Dako" Koshollek has worked in the motorcycle industry since 1971 as a motorcycle mechanic and service manager, as a technical trainer and national director for MMI's Harley-Davidson training programs and as vice president for Dynojet Research's motorcycle division. In 1998 Koshollek formed the DAKO Management company that provides sales, management and product training both in print and in person. He has written over 200-articles for Harley-Davidson's dealer publication, ShopTalk, has developed and taught numerous Harley-Davidson University courses in dealerships and at dealer conventions around the world and has authored a column titled "Dako's Fuel for Thought" for over 10-years that delivers proven parts and service operations best practices. Dako lives by the principle, "Ride Well - Be Profitable," which applies to all things in life.