Storied Indian brand may reappear in 2007 – August 14, 2006
August 14, 2006
Filed under Features
Officials at Indian Motorcycle Company say they plan to introduce a new Indian Chief in the second half of 2007.
The company recently purchased a production facility in Kings Mountain, N.C., hired motorcycle industry veteran Geoffrey Burgess to head up its product development team, and is seeking to expand its team of engine and chassis engineers, technicians and CAD designers.
Stephen Julius is head of Stellican Limited, the London-based private equity firm that acquired the trademarks and related intellectual property of Indian Motorcycle Company in July 2004, following Stellican’s successful re-launch of Chris-Craft boats. Now acting as chairman of Indian Motorcycle Company and Chris-Craft, Julius said the announcement of Indian’s new factory site marks the re-launch of the storied motorcycle brand.
Julius said management has spent considerable time over the past two years researching the American motorcycle market and learning from the successes and failures of other market entrants.
Over the next 12 months, Indian will focus on design, engineering and testing activities, with the objective of introducing the famed Indian Chief motorcycle in the second half of 2007, he said.
“We will apply the same practical and long-term approach to Indian as we have employed successfully at Chris-Craft,” Julius said. “We are confident we will repeat our success with Indian by remaining true to the rich heritage of this incredible brand and doing things slowly and thoroughly.”
Indian’s new headquarters property, located 37 miles west of downtown Charlotte, includes 11 acres of property and a 40,000 square foot manufacturing facility that will allow for a 125,000 square foot expansion.
“This area provides us with economic advantages, including a low overall cost of doing business, which was aided by a strong incentive package provided by Cleveland County and by the state of North Carolina,” Julius said.
Burgess, most recently the chief technology officer at Global Motorsports Group, also has served as head of product development at S&S Cycle, Inc., as chief engineer at the Victory Motorcycle division of Polaris Industries, Inc., and in various senior engineering capacities at General Motors, Bombardier Recreational Products (Valcourt, Quebec), BSA-Triumph Motorcycles and Norton-Villiers Motorcycle Group.
“Having Geoff on our team is a big win for Indian,” said Indian President David Wright. “His breadth and depth of knowledge of the American motorcycle market is impressive and his technical capabilities unsurpassed. He has outstanding powertrain and chassis design and development experience, which we will put to good use.”
“I know that the executive management of Indian understand the importance of product development, engineering and testing to current industry OEM standards,” said Burgess, who will assist in hiring a team of engine and chassis engineers, technicians and CAD designers. “I have been very impressed with their thoughtful and long-term approach to this exciting opportunity.”
Founded in Springfield, Mass., in 1901, Indian has undergone a number of re-starts since originally halting production in 1953. The last attempt to revive the brand ended in September 2003, when a five-year-old Indian factory in Gilroy, Calif., shut down without warning after principle owner, the Audax Group, a Boston-based equity firm, withdrew its funding.
The shutdown shocked the industry. At the time, a company spokesperson told Powersports Business that Indian was setting company retail sales records and was on target to meet its 2003 goal of 4,500 units sold, up from 3,800 units in 2002. The ’04 models were to be debuted at a dealer meeting that was canceled less than 72 hours before doors opened.
Creditors who collectively invested an estimated $145 million into reviving the historic brand saw their money run out, 380 employees lost their jobs and 200 dealers in the United States and Canada were left with no warranties or spare parts and mostly a collector's market for a once-again defunct brand.
It was at that time Julius’ Stellican purchased the Indian trademarks and related intellectual property from Burbank, Calif.-based CMA Business Credit Services.
The new Indian Motorcycle Company plans to develop a small network of dealerships in the first half of 2007.