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    Registered User crna59's Avatar
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    Pacific Northwest Closures....... (BMW, Ducati, KTM, Indian)

    NobleRush has ceased operations. The following dealers have been shuttered:

    * NobleRush Seattle (Ducati, BMW, KTM)
    * NobleRush Redmond (Ducati)
    * NobleRush Auburn (formerly Hinshaw's Motorcycle Store, multiple lines)
    * Indian Motorcycles of Auburn


    Pretty sad..... employees knew nothing!
    Bruce A. Brown #212072
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  2. #2
    Registered User Motodan's Avatar
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    Very sad! Hate hearing these stories. Principals want their staff to be dedicated, but they show no allegiances to them in a situation as you describe. So much for their humanity.
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  3. #3
    Registered User WWeldin's Avatar
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    These stories seemed to be cropping up throught the country. Sad.
    2000 R1200C, 2019 R1250RT

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by WWeldin View Post
    These stories seemed to be cropping up throught the country. Sad.
    Really? I thought the US economy was on fire??

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    Quote Originally Posted by trevorf View Post
    Really? I thought the US economy was on fire??
    The economy is one thing, a slowly changing or dieing motorcycle industry is another.
    From the only real Fargo, ND!

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    Registered User 36654's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PoorUB View Post
    The economy is one thing, a slowly changing or dieing motorcycle industry is another.
    Nah......the MC industry is a subset of the general economy. In the US, I would argue it's an indicator of the relative wealth of the 50+ year old household. A decade or so ago, the question was ......... "Can I afford that MC, RV, etc with my pension and SS?" Today, the question is .......... "Can I afford that MC, RV, etc with the 3% annual withdrawal from my 401(k) and my SS?"

    It's a big change.
    Cave contents: 16 R12RS, 13 Toyota Tacoma, 03 Simplicity Legacy, 97 Stihl FS75, Dewalt DW625 & SawStop PCS175
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    '99 '03 '06 National Co-Rally Chair Friedle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trevorf View Post
    Really? I thought the US economy was on fire??
    On fire or burning down ???? Depends on who you ask, Wall Street or small town Main Street.

    Friedle
    Ride fast safely

  8. #8
    Registered User 36654's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Friedle View Post
    On fire or burning down ???? Depends on who you ask, Wall Street or small town Main Street.

    Friedle
    2 weeks ago I was looking at a new car in a rural PA dealership. The salesman said he couldn't offer more than a 5% discount from MSRP because sedans were simply flying off the lot. They simply couldn't keep them in stock.

    The following day, I called a dealership in the DC area, they offered 20% off MSRP with no trade. The sedan was in-stock.

    So, I can only infer, Central PA must be the epicenter of the economic boom!
    Cave contents: 16 R12RS, 13 Toyota Tacoma, 03 Simplicity Legacy, 97 Stihl FS75, Dewalt DW625 & SawStop PCS175
    1) My expectations are never low enough & 2) Incompetence is infinite ........David Brooks

  9. #9
    Tutum amicus r184's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Motodan View Post
    Very sad! Hate hearing these stories. Principals want their staff to be dedicated, but they show no allegiances to them in a situation as you describe. So much for their humanity.
    I understand a business going under. If it's not making a profit, then it won't survive. But not letting your employee's know, so they have a chance to find employment elsewhere and won't be left hanging, well that's just wrong to me. Seems to happen in the restaurant business a lot. Open one day, closed the next and the employee's are left with no income.

    Loyalty is a two way street. If you're not loyal to your customers, subordinates or staff, then don't expect them to be loyal to you.
    No Matter Where I went, There I was...

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by r184 View Post
    I understand a business going under. If it's not making a profit, then it won't survive. But not letting your employee's know, so they have a chance to find employment elsewhere and won't be left hanging, well that's just wrong to me.
    Another way to look at it...if the employees know that a business is in trouble, they may depart of their own accord leaving the business in dire straits. Further, anyone who is paying attention can usually see the writing on the wall.

    Not saying its right, just stating an alternate point of view. Either way, it sucks for whoever is out of a job.

  11. #11
    Registered User Motodan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BC1100S View Post
    Another way to look at it...if the employees know that a business is in trouble, they may depart of their own accord leaving the business in dire straits. Further, anyone who is paying attention can usually see the writing on the wall.

    Not saying its right, just stating an alternate point of view. Either way, it sucks for whoever is out of a job.
    If anything it sounds like business was already in dire straits. So why put your employees in the same status...pathetic. Even if business was hurting or not, not every parts, sales, tech person isn't looking over profit/loss statements or knows how leveraged the principal/investors are, or want to be? Perhaps a prime investor decides he's not going to cover his next portion to the kitty because his two other non related businesses are hurting...and creates a 90 day short fall dilemma?

    Things were going along fairly well at the only Indiana shop until owner decided his other business interest needed more room to expand and now the franchises are going away. Granted in that case the owner was human and everyone was informed. One never knows what any business really has going on behind the "office" door. However, everyone (owner/principal) can step up and treat others as they'd like to (should) be treated.
    Last edited by Motodan; 09-22-2019 at 12:34 AM.
    F850GSA

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  12. #12
    Registered User crucian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BC1100S View Post
    Another way to look at it...if the employees know that a business is in trouble, they may depart of their own accord leaving the business in dire straits. Further, anyone who is paying attention can usually see the writing on the wall.

    Not saying its right, just stating an alternate point of view. Either way, it sucks for whoever is out of a job.
    Thank you for your perspective. I mostly agree. In a business the size of a motorcycle shop no one is ignorant of the situation and has been long before the curtain falls. There are business failures due to stupid ideas, from jump street. There are business failures due to incompetent owners. There are business failures due to market changes, an inescapable liquidity spiral; controlled impact with terrain. Also, let's limit this discussion where it belongs, small business. We can leave the "Titans of Industry" for a separate category.

    I had a precision contract fabrication business shot out from under me by NAFDA/Mexico and then China as the final blow. Eighty-five dedicated, skilled, hard working employees lost their jobs and I lost a sh^t ton of money in spite of every maneuver possible to survive. (Category 3). No whining here, it was a "get off", painful but survivable with extreme effort.

    If anyone feels strongly that Seattle, Redmond and Auburn are now underserved and wants to open a new franchise, step up. Actually some ex-shop employees may step in and provide indie services, all good. "Either way it sucks for whoever is out of a job", including employees and small business owners who see a lot of money down the drain. Sh^t happens, life goes on....

  13. #13
    SURVIVOR akbeemer's Avatar
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    Article on the recent PNW closures from Sound Rider!


    10 takeaways from the demise of NobleRush


    The recent closure of the NobleRush chain of stores torpedoed the Pacific Northwest motorcycling community with a magnitude unmatched by any previous motorsports event in the region. The fortunes of one Microsoft executive made a seven-year appearance in the community only to depart in one of the worst ways possible. Let's look at how we got here, what to be wary of in the future, and how we move forward.

    Howard Crow operated the NobleRush collection of motorsports stores from August 2012 until its bankruptcy on September 19, 2019

    First off we ask the question, how did one guy buy a dealership (Ducati Seattle), watch its sales drop off; buy the competitor (Ducati Redmond) only to see that shop dwindle as well, then latch onto a major European shop in Seattle (Ride West BMW), lose customer confidence there and still be able to yet again buy a major motorcycle retail store in Auburn (Hinshaw's Motorcycle Store, Indian of Auburn) and see its reputation also fade?

    For starters, it probably wasn't right for Ducati to place all its Seattle metro eggs in one basket. In fact, some OEM's have a rule that no one can own two of its shops that are geographically side-by-side. Yet Ducati allowed it and was willing to allow that same owner to purchase the franchise in South Sound as well. Fortunately, the latter didn't happen, which is lucky for Ducati owners seeking a certified tech to work on their bike. Had South Sound Motorcycles gone down in the fall, Ducati owners only choice for OEM service would be Spokane or Portland. Have a nice ride…

    The motorcycle industry is a very dynamic business and requires a little TLC from the top down to keep employees and their customers happy. Nearly every shop purchase we've seen in the PNW in the last two decades by a well-financed individual who was an absentee owner has either failed or been sold. Lesson learned - if you want to keep your full-time job at the tech company that provided all your wealth, then keep it, just don't try to build a motorsports empire on a bean-counting-style of management and not tend to it daily. Doesn't work.

    Who is the banker that followed the unsuccessful pattern of missing sales goals and lack of profitability after three years and continued to loan money? That banker, or group of bankers/investors were wrong in letting this situation continue to snowball.

    Our understanding is a bankruptcy was filed, although as of this writing it does not appear in the King County database of bankruptcy filings. In bankruptcy, there are two types of filings. Chapter 7 is where you throw your arms up, cry uncle and shut it all down. In a Chapter 13 filing, you're given a period of time to reorganize, setting a goal to rise up out of the ashes. This particular situation was clearly a Chapter 7 filing and no previous Chapter 13 is on record which means the owner simply got in too deep to believe he could fix the mess and come out the other side. That's just bad planning, but when you're busy at your software day job, who's got time to pay close attention?

    This took a toll on a number of people. Here's a few of the ways it affected people across the community:

    1) Lost Jobs - about 100 people lost their jobs. We're glad to see some of them already finding work at surrounding dealers, but for others it may be a while before they work again.
    2) Locked Up Property - Some customers had paid cash for new bikes that had yet to be delivered. Some customers had bikes in these shops for service. Others had bikes in showrooms on consignment as used inventory. It took several days for employees to get access to the shops, at no pay, to begin calling customers to arrange pick-up of their property. A week out there were still a lot of loose ends. In the case of bikes in for service, parts were gathered up and provided back to the customer with the half-repaired unit. Call in a tow truck and then what?

    3) Unused Gift Cards - Anyone holding a gift card for one of the five locations is basically S.O.L. You could take it as a loss on your taxes which will get you a small write-off not near the value of the card. One customer was holding a $500 gift card.

    4) Extended Warranty - Dealers love to sell customers an extended warranty. Often times, if these are not direct from the manufacturer, then they are dealer specific and can't be used elsewhere. Again, these customers are S.O.L.

    5) Where to now? - Thousands of customers/riders were affected by the closures. Many asking, "now where do I take my bike?" Each OEM has a listing of dealers on their website, and we took the time to update our dealer directory on Sound RIDER! as well.

    6) The land owners - All the shops were on leased property. By the time the bank gets itself paid back, will there be any money left to cover unpaid rent?
    7) Former owners - Several of the former owners had extended private loans on the purchase of their businesses. Will they ever see the money owed to them. That's unlikely.

    Within the social media post we published, nearly every independent tech was posting their services. Customers need to be leery about using a non-certified tech by the OEM for several reasons. Many bikes sold over the last two decades, in particular European models, require special training and, just as importantly, special tools to do the job correctly. One thing a rider can do is purchase the shop manual and refer to it before service. That way they'd know the ins and out of the upcoming service to be done and what special tools may be required. Then, by all means, query the tech and see if they actually have those tools and diagnostic devices on hand. Valve adjustments ain't what they used to be.

    Poor communication prevailed throughout the 7-year legacy of NobleRush, but it really showed itself when the stores were closed. Employees were simply told to go home. No mention about getting final paychecks and commissions owed to them. For customers looking for answers on the company's websites and social media pages, forget it, nothing was ever posted. We think that's simply an irresponsible way to drop a bomb showing no integrity. But if you didn't care about employees and customers, you could not have done a much better job.

    Profit is important. Did you get the best deal ever on your last bike? Is that dealer still around today? Dealers do need to be profitable to stay in business. If they're giving the lowest price every day on the showroom floor thinking they'll make it up later in service, just look at what happened here. Didn't work out that way.

    Consider paying full price for your next helmet, jacket, boots or bike. If you don't, how far will you have to ride for your next service?

    Something that disappeared when Ride West BMW was purchased was its flair for inspiration. That shop, more than any other shop in the PNW, inspired riders to go further. It helped connect the dots for those seeking information to make their transcontinental dreams come true. Again, this is one of those dynamic aspects that sets a great dealership apart from the rest. And it translates into more miles ridden, more service needed, more tires bought, and ultimately the next bike purchase.

    Sadly, Howard Crow seemed to be in search of specific metrics that pointed to a sale. It doesn't work that way, there's a lot more that makes a sale happen than a post on social media, an email showing used inventory over and over again, or simply standing at the door waiting for someone to pull out their wallet.

    When all the bean counters do is count beans, it's over.

    SR!/October 2019
    Kevin Huddy
    The Outpost, Silver City, Montana

  14. #14
    Registered User powwow's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=akbeemer;1180781]Article on the recent PNW closures from Sound Rider!


    10 takeaways from the demise of NobleRush


    The recent closure of the NobleRush chain of stores torpedoed the Pacific Northwest motorcycling community with a magnitude unmatched by any previous motorsports event in the region. The fortunes of one Microsoft executive made a seven-year appearance in the community only to depart in one of the worst ways possible. Let's look at how we got here, what to be wary of in the future, and how we move forward.

    Howard Crow operated the NobleRush collection of motorsports stores from August 2012 until its bankruptcy on September 19, 2019

    First off we ask the question, how did one guy buy a dealership (Ducati Seattle), watch its sales drop off; buy the competitor (Ducati Redmond) only to see that shop dwindle as well, then latch onto a major European shop in Seattle (Ride West BMW), lose customer confidence there and still be able to yet again buy a major motorcycle retail store in Auburn (Hinshaw's Motorcycle Store, Indian of Auburn) and see its reputation also fade?

    For starters, it probably wasn't right for Ducati to place all its Seattle metro eggs in one basket. In fact, some OEM's have a rule that no one can own two of its shops that are geographically side-by-side. Yet Ducati allowed it and was willing to allow that same owner to purchase the franchise in South Sound as well. Fortunately, the latter didn't happen, which is lucky for Ducati owners seeking a certified tech to work on their bike. Had South Sound Motorcycles gone down in the fall, Ducati owners only choice for OEM service would be Spokane or Portland. Have a nice ride…

    The motorcycle industry is a very dynamic business and requires a little TLC from the top down to keep employees and their customers happy. Nearly every shop purchase we've seen in the PNW in the last two decades by a well-financed individual who was an absentee owner has either failed or been sold. Lesson learned - if you want to keep your full-time job at the tech company that provided all your wealth, then keep it, just don't try to build a motorsports empire on a bean-counting-style of management and not tend to it daily. Doesn't work.

    Who is the banker that followed the unsuccessful pattern of missing sales goals and lack of profitability after three years and continued to loan money? That banker, or group of bankers/investors were wrong in letting this situation continue to snowball.

    Our understanding is a bankruptcy was filed, although as of this writing it does not appear in the King County database of bankruptcy filings. In bankruptcy, there are two types of filings. Chapter 7 is where you throw your arms up, cry uncle and shut it all down. In a Chapter 13 filing, you're given a period of time to reorganize, setting a goal to rise up out of the ashes. This particular situation was clearly a Chapter 7 filing and no previous Chapter 13 is on record which means the owner simply got in too deep to believe he could fix the mess and come out the other side. That's just bad planning, but when you're busy at your software day job, who's got time to pay close attention?

    This took a toll on a number of people. Here's a few of the ways it affected people across the community:

    1) Lost Jobs - about 100 people lost their jobs. We're glad to see some of them already finding work at surrounding dealers, but for others it may be a while before they work again.
    2) Locked Up Property - Some customers had paid cash for new bikes that had yet to be delivered. Some customers had bikes in these shops for service. Others had bikes in showrooms on consignment as used inventory. It took several days for employees to get access to the shops, at no pay, to begin calling customers to arrange pick-up of their property. A week out there were still a lot of loose ends. In the case of bikes in for service, parts were gathered up and provided back to the customer with the half-repaired unit. Call in a tow truck and then what?

    3) Unused Gift Cards - Anyone holding a gift card for one of the five locations is basically S.O.L. You could take it as a loss on your taxes which will get you a small write-off not near the value of the card. One customer was holding a $500 gift card.

    4) Extended Warranty - Dealers love to sell customers an extended warranty. Often times, if these are not direct from the manufacturer, then they are dealer specific and can't be used elsewhere. Again, these customers are S.O.L.

    5) Where to now? - Thousands of customers/riders were affected by the closures. Many asking, "now where do I take my bike?" Each OEM has a listing of dealers on their website, and we took the time to update our dealer directory on Sound RIDER! as well.

    6) The land owners - All the shops were on leased property. By the time the bank gets itself paid back, will there be any money left to cover unpaid rent?
    7) Former owners - Several of the former owners had extended private loans on the purchase of their businesses. Will they ever see the money owed to them. That's unlikely.

    Within the social media post we published, nearly every independent tech was posting their services. Customers need to be leery about using a non-certified tech by the OEM for several reasons. Many bikes sold over the last two decades, in particular European models, require special training and, just as importantly, special tools to do the job correctly. One thing a rider can do is purchase the shop manual and refer to it before service. That way they'd know the ins and out of the upcoming service to be done and what special tools may be required. Then, by all means, query the tech and see if they actually have those tools and diagnostic devices on hand. Valve adjustments ain't what they used to be.

    Poor communication prevailed throughout the 7-year legacy of NobleRush, but it really showed itself when the stores were closed. Employees were simply told to go home. No mention about getting final paychecks and commissions owed to them. For customers looking for answers on the company's websites and social media pages, forget it, nothing was ever posted. We think that's simply an irresponsible way to drop a bomb showing no integrity. But if you didn't care about employees and customers, you could not have done a much better job.

    Profit is important. Did you get the best deal ever on your last bike? Is that dealer still around today? Dealers do need to be profitable to stay in business. If they're giving the lowest price every day on the showroom floor thinking they'll make it up later in service, just look at what happened here. Didn't work out that way.

    Consider paying full price for your next helmet, jacket, boots or bike. If you don't, how far will you have to ride for your next service?

    Something that disappeared when Ride West BMW was purchased was its flair for inspiration. That shop, more than any other shop in the PNW, inspired riders to go further. It helped connect the dots for those seeking information to make their transcontinental dreams come true. Again, this is one of those dynamic aspects that sets a great dealership apart from the rest. And it translates into more miles ridden, more service needed, more tires bought, and ultimately the next bike purchase.

    Sadly, Howard Crow seemed to be in search of specific metrics that pointed to a sale. It doesn't work that way, there's a lot more that makes a sale happen than a post on social media, an email showing used inventory over and over again, or simply standing at the door waiting for someone to pull out their wallet.

    When all the bean counters do is count beans, it's over.

    SR!/October 2019[/QUOTE

    With state franchising laws, it can be difficult if not impossible for a manufacturer to deny the purchase of an existing franchise. Once the parties have a legal buy/sell in place, they are typically covered by the states laws and unless there is an obvious way to deny (i.e. a past felony conviction) the application, it can be legally difficult.

    That's why it's very important for a franchisor to have a detailed process of franchise approval that they follow to the nth degree (i.e. experience level, financial, history of success, etc). If they've been at all inconsistent in how they've applied their approval process, denying a franchise candidate can be a huge uphill battle.
    Larry Gregerson; Bend, OR
    MOA #93031

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by r184 View Post
    I understand a business going under. If it's not making a profit, then it won't survive. But not letting your employee's know, so they have a chance to find employment elsewhere and won't be left hanging, well that's just wrong to me. .
    Which is exactly what the BMW MOA did when they terminated the ladies in the St. Louis office and moved to South Carolina. Three hours notice and clean your stuff out. Bye!

    They did get some severance but still ...

    Ask any of them how it feels. Oh wait. They had to sign a nondisclosure agreement so never mind, don't ask.
    Last edited by PGlaves; 09-22-2019 at 02:50 AM.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell
    http://web.bigbend.net/~glaves/

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