Copper State Cycles – Wickenburg, AZ – Dec. 24, 2007

Copper State Cycles
893D W. Wickenburg Way
Wickenburg, Ariz. 85390
Dave Waddell
Copper State Cycles owner Dave Waddell spent 20 years away from motorcycles despite his passion for them. “I got into the airline business and enjoyed it, but I spent about 320 days a year in a hotel, and I got sick of it,” Waddell said. “I was able to semi-retire at a pretty early age. I’ve always loved motorcycles, so I started the (motorcycle) tour company (Chrome Caballeros) that led to this (Copper State Cycles).” Waddell founded Chrome Caballeros in 2000, which provides motorcycle tours throughout Arizona and started Copper State Motorcycles in October 2004. It started as a custom bike dealer for Red Horse in Scottsdale, Ariz., but transformed into only used motorcycles and ATVs. For convenience reasons, the dealership moved to Wickenburg, Ariz., in April 2006. Waddell says when the company made its last move it became more diversified. It currently services all V-twins, sell late-model used motorcycles and rents ATVs and street bikes. The dealership continues to develop as it’s currently constructing another store in Wickenburg. Waddell says he hopes to be in it by spring. “There’s a lot of potential here in Wickenburg,” he noted. “We feel like now is the time – whoever puts in a store here first is going to have it, and we want to be the first.”
Like many other dealers, Waddell says Chinese imports concern him. “The Chinese imports are hurting us all right now with undercut pricing, but [customers] aren’t getting quality, so it’s souring a lot of people,” he said. In addition to Chinese imports, Waddell adds credit card debt as a cause for apprehension. “The country as a whole has issues with credit card debt, and it’s going to catch up with us soon,” Waddell noted. He is particularly concerned since he doesn’t have as many financing options as a franchised dealer. “My only option is to send them to the bank,” he noted, “so they typically aren’t as generous as the manufacturers’ finance departments are.”
The smaller metric cruiser bikes and ATVs are selling the most. Waddell says that’s not necessarily the market, but because he can’t offer a lot of finance options, many of his sales are cash. “We do some of everything,” he noted, “but [the smaller units] are most of our business right now.”
Waddell says the custom bike segment has lost its steam in the past few years. He notes one reason is because some people bought custom bikes for the status symbol but now are moving on to different motorcycle segments and powersports. “I think the ones that really got into it (the V-twin market) and found they enjoyed riding are shifting to more usable and ridable-type bikes,” Waddell said.
Copper State Cycles takes its service department seriously because of its small size. “We’re heavily dependent on repeat business,” Waddell said. “Larger companies have a steady flow of people. It doesn’t really matter what you do to them because another one is coming along. Unlike them, we have a limited number of people, and we have to make sure we get every one of them back.” Waddell says they service all makes and models, but about 50 percent of their service business is Harley-Davidson. The other half is mixed among off-road and metric street bikes as well as a few ATVs.
Copper State Cycles runs limited print advertising because it relies mostly on its Web site and word-of-mouth; thus, satisfied customers are its promotional home run. Waddell says he still has customers come up from his former location in Phoenix. He also notes his other business, the motorcycle touring company, brings enthusiasts to the area, generating more business for the dealership.
“Like anything, be prepared for a long haul because it takes several years to build a business. You better have some good backing and be able to weather a few years of lean times.”
— Karin Gelschus

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