Motorcycle Trader Interview 06-15 ref Company profile: Custom Cruisers UK
Almost ten years’ ago now, Derbyshire-based Custom Cruisers faced ruination when a fire broke out in a neighbouring property, reducing more than half its stock to smouldering ashes, leaving Mike Chadwick and partner Tina Merritt to pick up the blackened pieces and pretty much start up all over again. That was then, and what a difference a decade can make.
Chadwick was ex-forces and had worked as a motorcycle courier before forming his own company in the eighties, importing Goldwings and supplying bolt-on accessories. Always on the lookout for new opportunities, he was quick to react when one of his suppliers Overland R&R Ltd went bust. He went to the liquidation sale with the intention of buying a few spotlights but seeing the extent of the stock available, ended up bidding for virtually the whole lot and had to hotfoot it back to the UK to quickly get a bank loan in place. So having invested so much in building up the business, Chadwick wasn’t about to let a raging blaze get him down. Custom Cruisers has remained true to custom scene but has successfully expanded and diversified to support a variety of bikes which surprise many. Being a cruiser-focussed business, doesn’t mean that Harley-Davidson dominates the range on offer. The reality is that H-D is catered for, but so are Japanese and European brands and, thanks to the crossover by companies like Corbin and National Cycle, even items for classic bikes and utility bikes are available. Trader caught up with Chadwick to find out more.
MCT: Tell us a little more about Custom Cruisers.
MC: Tina and I knew that if we wanted to seriously get into the custom market we needed to act fast and put ourselves in front of key suppliers. We went to Holland and confirmed distributorship for Renegade and then through attending the top trade shows in America and Europe added HAC Products, B2, National Cycle and many more to our portfolio.
We go to the States two or three times a year and also make regular visits to Europe. Unlike the sport and race business which can be competitive and sometimes cut-throat, the cruiser marketplace is an extremely personal one and so I like to keep in personal contact with all our suppliers as if we ever have a problem with anything, it is easier and less provocative to point it out in person.
We’ve built up a reputation for good service on the custom front and have essential expertise of knowing which part fits which bike, vital when you are dealing with bikes that have both US and UK specifications. For instance, did you know that there are over ten different models of the VN1500 and VT750 shadows from 1984 to date? Well if you didn’t, you do now!!
MCT: What brands are currently imported/distributed?
MC: Simpson Helmets, B2 Lifts, HAC, Renegade Styling, Magnum, Jardine, National Cycle, Ztechnik, Cobra, Mapam, Corbin, Granucci and Metmachex. Plus our own range of products. We can also supply Kuryakyn, Vance and Hines and Mustang. We have a full range of exhausts, windshields, sissybars, seats, floorboards, clothing and more.
Custom accessories, hyperchargers, chrome covers, etc, for all tastes and styles to fit nearly all cruiser motorcycle models, including Harley Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha, Suzuki, Triumph, Buell, BMW and Victory. We’re rapidly expanding stocks for next day delivery.
MCT: What attracted you to the brands?
MC: Top-quality and well-known brands. Although quality products tend to be slower moving, we don’t like rubbish - quality sells and usually with no returns.
We chose Simpson for its legendary styling and quality. B2 Lifts are top quality, not cheap, but work well in a commercial environment, unlike Far Eastern copies. HAC products are stainless-steel/chrome plated – it doesn’t get any better than that and are also sold with a two-year guarantee. Magnum Nitrous are affordable bike nitrous systems.
MCT: Which sectors of the market do you target?
MC: Obviously cruiser but we’re also looking at the adventure touring market and have a new range of crash bars and hard bag mounts due out in June 2015.
MCT: What is current size of operation?
MC: We have a fully-stocked 6,500sq ft facility in Alfreton, Derbyshire which has great parking and HGV access. Our modest team of four is extremely hard-working and always available for product advice, or just a chat!
MCT: Why should a dealer opt to deal with Custom Cruisers and buy its products?
MC: Quality is key. We import and sell top-quality European and American products and won’t stand for inferior goods. When you’re placing your faith and money in stock that you intend to sell on to the trade for them to satisfy the end-user customer, you simply can afford to get involved in refunds and the like. If we can maintain a good turnover throughout the year. The people we deal with will renew our supplies. If we can keep our dealers in business, we’ve got a business. We’re not in it for short-term gain, sustainability is all about long-term gain and growth.
MCT: Are dealer margins attractive?
MC: Yes, up to 30 per cent, depending on the brand.
MCT: Is there be a stocking requirement?
MC: No, not essential, but bigger orders attract bigger discounts.
MCT: Delivery terms?
MC: Ex-stock then next day delivery. If not then it could be three days to two weeks if from the USA. However, we do hold very large stocks.
MCT: Does supply meet demand?
MC: With the exception of the odd and obscure, or rare models not stocked, we haven’t experienced any problems to date.
How can the trade find out more?
Visit www.customcruisers.com / www.motorcyclewebsite.co.uk