Arlen Ness Enterprises
6050 Dublin Blvd.
Dublin, Calif. 94568
Unlike most dealerships, the majority of Arlen Ness Enterprises’ revenue — about 85 percent — comes from its parts business, says Jesse Rego, marketing director. “We make enough parts to build a complete bike,” he noted. The dealership also is unique in that it manufactures and sells its own line of choppers in addition to carrying Big Dog Motorcycles, BMC Bobbers, Rucker Performance and Victory Motorcycles. About three years ago, founder Arlen Ness and current President Cory Ness opened Ness Motorcycles LLC, a manufacturing company of custom motorcycles. This year, the father and son duo have five models available, and they’re sold worldwide, including in Russia, Korea and Switzerland. While Ness Motorcycles LLC is its own business, Rego notes all the bikes are manufactured at the dealership. Many of the custom bikes Arlen Ness produced are located in a museum above the dealership. “It’s everything he’s kept over the years. Some of the stuff he’s had to buy back,” Rego said. “It’s like a timeline of his life.”
Rego is concerned for the ma and pop dealerships that might not be able to weather the current economic conditions. “Usually the stuff rolls down hill, but in this case it rolls uphill,” he said. “If customers don’t have money, it starts with the ma and pop dealers and it trickles upward to all the big guys. We’re between the ma and pop stores and the monster guys. I think everyone is feeling it.”
As the No. 1 Victory dealer in the West, according to the dealership’s Web site, it’s no wonder Rego says they sell about three to one Victory Motorcycles. “We sell a ton of those. They put out a great product,” he said. “It’s kind of a saying here, ‘You don’t ever see a Victory come back on a truck.’ You bring it in, and you’re only bringing it in for general service. It has a bulletproof motor.”
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
There aren’t as many people doing custom builds as a few years ago, says Rego. “We used to roll out programs where it’d be sort of a bike in a box or rolling chassis build where the customer would buy the basic skeleton and then piece it together with the parts they want,” he said. “That has pretty much come to a standstill. It’s more your every day rider who wants to gain cheap hp. Our big sucker kit, for instance, will give you 8 hp right out of the box. That’s probably our best-selling product that we’ve ever had.”
PARTS AND SERVICE
Even though Arlen Ness Enterprises’ business is already mostly parts, they’re continuing to expand the department. “The one thing down the road we might start dipping into is metric applications like Kawasaki, Honda, Yamaha, all their cruisers. In just the last year and a half, our big plan is to expand from a custom motorcycle shop to a motorcycle shop,” Rego said. “We are starting to develop more metric parts, right now almost everything is Harley. We’re trying to break that part of the business open.” He adds the metric market can be hard to keep up with because of how many different applications there are. “We’re hoping once the market turns around and the economy starts doing a little better, we’ll be equipped and ready to go,” Rego said.
PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS
In the past few months, the dealership put more time into its Web site, says Rego. “We did a total facelift on it,” he noted, “and we’re trying to keep that up to date and try new things on the Web.” Another area the dealership has delved into is events, which has been a success for it. Rego says every year in April they put one on a bike show, and they show off about 50-100 motorcycles. Many of the bikes are from Arlen Ness’ collection along with new bikes and prototype models.
WORDS OF ADVICE
Family ties and a close staff have helped Arlen Ness Enterprises succeed, says Rego. “We’ve always had a real close atmosphere. Starting from the top all the way down,” he noted. “Arlen and Bev started it. Cory got into building bikes and he has worked his way up through every department. Kevin is Arlen’s brother. He sells bikes, and he’ll work in the parts department if we need him. I’m a nephew, and I’m doing all the marketing and advertising. We have two brother combos.”
— Karin Gelschus
Copyright 2009 Powersports Business