Perk Bearden, owner of Texas Motor Sports in Harker Heights, Texas, explains that the objective in business is to clean the toilet bowl twice. He learned this saying from his father, Bob Bearden, who explained to him that, “the first time [you clean the toilet bowl] it’s because someone is paying you by the hour and they told you to do it. The second time, it’s because it needs cleaned and you own the place.”
Sr. Bearden opened the dealership as something to share with his sons. “All my brothers worked here at one point and time at different capacities,” says Perk Bearden. Sr. Bearden had considered multiple lines to carry during the startup of the business. He decided to work with Yamaha after speaking to other dealers to learn which OEM seemed to have the best relationship with its dealers at the time. Texas Motor Sports opened in 1973 as a single line dealership in a converted lumber yard.
Perk Bearden has been involved with the business since it first opened when he was around the age of 21. Besides his father teaching him that in business, the goal is to become an owner, he brought home many other lessons like the importance of exceptional customer service and having fun.
“And we had a lot of fun with it,” Bearden says. “We taught him (Sr. Bearden) to ride a motorcycle at age 51 and we entered him in his first motocross race at age 53. It was something he had to.” Sr. Bearden also jumped with the 82nd Airborne Division during the invasion of Normandy, France, on D-Day.
Coming from the military, Sr. Bearden understood the persistent need for an adrenaline rush after combat. And the dealership, located near Fort Cavazos, provides that adrenaline rush for soldiers via two wheels and a motor. Bearden explains that the dealership still gets much of its business from the fort today. “In Texas most dealerships are probably 70 percent, maybe 80 percent off-road,” he says. “We’re still over 60 percent motorcycle here and that’s because of the military influence.”
In 1990, during Desert Storm, soldiers from the military base were deployed and the five surrounding dealerships only sold about 700 to 800 total units over one year, according to Perk Bearden. Bearden became an RN in January of that year, and worked as an ICU nurse during Desert Storm to keep the dealership’s doors open.
“I stayed in nursing as an ICU nurse part-time on the weekends until 2012 when I semi-retired, which meant that I no longer worked in the hospitals,” he says. “I worked in a nursing capacity as a triage nurse for the local free clinic until and through Covid. Today I still retain my license just in case there is a disaster where I can actually be of help.”
“When people asked me why I became a nurse I said, ‘so I could afford to have a motorcycle dealership,’” he continues. “I mixed motorcycles and medicine. The nurses I’ve worked with have accused me of supplying my own patients,” he laughs.
MSF motorcycle training
And although there may be a bit of irony when comparing his two chosen careers, there is no doubt that rider safety is important to Bearden.
“I’ve been a [motorcycle safety training] instructor since 1978,” Bearden says. “We started teaching people before MSF came to Texas because in 1973, Yamaha came out with the RD350, and it was a very high-powered machine. In the first six months we were selling those, we had four young men crash the bike before they got on the street.” And Bearden comically explains that “because back then the testosterone level wouldn’t let you admit that you didn’t know how to ride,” the dealership started its own training program.
Training took place behind the facility on a small residential road where students were taught the basics of motorcycle riding. “When MSF asked if we wanted to become a motorcycle instructor, I jumped on the chance,” he says. The MSF training program is now run by Debra Bearden, Bearden’s wife.
Bearden is on the board of directors and was at one point a triage nurse for The Greater Calean Community Clinic. “We support a couple of charities that I work with and the fact that we can help them out makes all the difference in the world,” Bearden says.
The dealership donates to the clinic and to the Central Texas performing arts theater. “I’ve been with that group for 25 years,” he explains. “They allow us to use their parking lot for motorcycle training. In turn, the motorcycle classes donate a certain amount of money for each theater student. It’s been a win-win situation.” (He was in theater when the facility was built and formed a partnership right away).
Low pressure or no pressure
Bearden explains how proud he is of the dealership’s CSI score from its manufacturers.
“With Yamaha, we’re rarely out of the top 50 when it comes to national numbers,” he says. “And many times, we’ve been in the top 10 for the nation. Kawasaki doesn’t give me that kind of information, but we’re always in the top three to five in our region. On all three brands, we run four to six points above the national average. And we get such good reviews from our customers. We want them to have an experience that makes them happy. Because then they tell other people and they come back to my sales team.”
And there’s a good chance that customers return to the dealership because of the motto that the sales team works by, which is ‘low pressure or no pressure.’
“We allow the customer to make the choice. We give them all the information and we are either low pressure or no pressure,” Bearden explains. “They have the option. They get to make the decision and we’ll give them as much information as we can. We don’t try to push them.”
And Bearden has conducted business this way for 50 years. April 16 was the official 50th year anniversary, and the dealership hosted a celebration event two weeks later.
“We had a lot of fun,” Bearden says. “About every 10 years we’ve done something. We were able to get the CFMoto demo truck to come in and we had food and door prizes for our customers. We gave away two CFmoto Papios.” And after receiving positive feedback from the last anniversary celebration, caricature artists were also in attendance, and they were a big hit.
The next big milestone for the Texas Motor Sports will be an expansion and relocation. Bearden was excited to share his expansion plans. “I just got my estimate from my architect and civil engineer for the new facility,” he says. “We are planning a new facility about three miles from the current facility.” And building from the ground up, Bearden is aiming for completion of the facility by April of 2025.
The dealership is currently a 12,000 square foot building and its square footage will double at the new location, totaling 24,000 square feet. It will also sit on enough property for an ATV safety course and a small track for youth dirt bike riders. “We’ll be able to do off-road ATV demos and we’ve never had that. I’ve been trying to do something like this for 35 years and it has finally all come together. That’s what is keeping me here,” he says.
He works at the dealership full-time, explaining, “I love what I do. The old adage ‘if you love what you do, it’s really not work,’ that’s true. My wife asks me when I’m going to retire, and I have to tell her when I stop having fun.”