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Dealer shares business start up at 19

Brandon Dooley, owner of B’s Moto Lab of Bel Aire, Kansas, was introduced to dirt bikes at seven years old and was immediately intrigued. He began motocross racing around the age of 14 and by the time he was a junior in high school, he knew he wanted to become a professional race mechanic.

“I had a little shed behind our house on six acres in the country and that’s where I worked on my bikes, made mistakes and that’s how I learned things,” Dooley says. “I developed a passion for working on them.”

He signed up to attend the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute (MMI) in Phoenix, Arizona, his junior year. “I was ready,” he says. “It was pure passion and nothing else.”

After graduating from the MMI program, he moved back home to start a business in the same 400 square foot shed where he grew up wrenching on his motocross bikes. On Dec. 1, 2010 – 30 days after graduating – Dooley opened B’s Motor Lab at the age of 19.

Brandon Dooley opened B’s Moto Lab in a shed on his parents’ property when he was 19 years old. Photos courtesy of B’s Moto Lab

“It was fun,” he says about working in the shed. “At the end of the day, you do good work, you serve customers and they are happy. You do the things you’re supposed to do as a business regardless of the surrounding.”

After establishing his business in his parents’ shed for two years, he moved his independent shop to a 1,000 square foot building in 2012. Dooley explains that he got his business legs during the five years at this location, crediting his mentors and father, Shawn Dooley, who taught him about business.

Dooley had started his business because there were no professional race mechanic opportunities after graduating. To build his customer base, he began regularly attending motocross races in 2012 with his newlywed wife, Kristin Dooley. Two years later, around the age of 24, financial backers Jon and Marque Peer asked Dooley if he would be a mechanic for a privateer pro rider.

“I jumped at that opportunity,” he says. “I was still running B’s Moto Lab, the race bikes were being built there, but I would fly out or travel on the weekends.”

Dooley spent a lot of time with the Peer brothers and recalls their first road trip to a race. “It was a really eye-opening experience,” he says. “It was 12 hours of me getting to ask questions unlike I’ve ever asked before in terms of business.”

Working as a pro mechanic opened other doors for Dooley, too. While working on a Rock River Yamaha Factory Support team, his connections led him to become a Cobra Moto dealer in the beginning of 2017. Within two years of becoming a dealer, the dealership was ranked as the second Cobra dealer in the nation, according to Dooley.

Dooley has established his business as his family has also grown.

In 2020, B’s Moto Lab became a KTM dealer. “March 17 of 2020 was the most terrifying day of my life,” he says. “I just had my second child and four hours later, the governor shut down the school system. I’d already signed the paperwork to become a KTM dealer. We were supposed to start moving into the new building, which we’re currently in right now, on April 1 of 2020. I pushed that back to May 1 due to all the layoffs and the wild world it was.

“That was the worst business decision I made that year, now that we know what COVID did to our industry. We were a little bit late to the party and it ended up being a blessing for everybody in this industry. It also put us on a growth path the last three years that we were not expecting.”

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The dealership received plenty of KTM inventory in Q4 of 2022, and Q1 of 2023 was the dealership’s best quarter yet. “KTM is incredible. They’re amazing to be working with and working for,” he says.

The dealership is currently located in a 6,000 square foot building and another 1,000 square feet is used at an offsite warehouse. This is the dealership’s fourth location and Dooley has plans to move to a fifth and final location in the near future. He has a team of eight full-time employees and two part-time employees and he strives to provide with a career that “doesn’t feel like work” for them.

“It’s a hobby at the end of the day,” he says. “Most people get into motorcycling and powersports because it’s fun and that’s the culture we try to wrap into our day-today. It’s obviously tough sometimes and there are parts that are not fun, as there’s going to be in any workplace or career. But we try to focus on doing what’s fun for each individual based on their interests, wants and needs. We really try to personalize the experience for each employee.”

Dooley worked as a professional race mechanic while running B’s Moto Lab and still enjoys working on bikes in his shop today.

Keeping his own passion sparked, Dooley is still involved in day-to-day tasks and turning wrenches. He explains his service oriented background has likely made his business journey unique compared to dealership owners with a sales background.

“Especially when you have four kids in five years,” he adds about the growth of his family as he has established his business. His family has been involved in the business since day one, when his father lent him the small shed to work out of. His mother, Karen Dooley, also played a large role in the success of the business, starting as a volunteer in the shop and working now as a fulltime employee. She has many titles, helping different departments throughout the shop.

“My wife has done her part, too, throughout the years. In the early years before we had kids, it was hard. We enjoyed going to races on weekends, spending our time together as a newlywed couple without kids, so it didn’t feel like work. She was right there by my side every step of the way. This business would probably not exist if it wasn’t for me and her getting married and her income supporting us.”

Today, the dealership is still a KTM and Cobra dealer. “I’m big believer that luck is when hard work and opportunity meet,” Dooley explains, excited about the future as he continues to work and take advantage of opportunities as they presented themselves.

Click on the image below to read more from the May edition of our magazine:

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