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February 2016 AIHOO Interviews: Italian Choppers – Part 1 Italian Choppers is an American IronHorse OEM parts supplier, manufacturer of replacement parts, and custom bike builder located in Southbridge, MA.  We are pleased to be able to publish this first of a multi-part interview that will provide insight into what it took to get into such a business and what it takes to keep it going, as well as what this business is up to these days - and where this company is headed. AIHOO:  Hello Mark, thank you for making time to be interviewed. IC:  You are welcome.  Will be fun to do this. AIHOO:  How and when did you get into this business? IC:  We first started up a small shop in 2002, then went full blown in 2006. AIHOO:  When we visited over five years ago, we saw firsthand a lot of parts you had stored – frames, sissy bars, etc. etc.  How did you come to acquire so much material?  Did you personally have to go get it or have it trucked for you?  And you have been storing all this material now for how many years? IC:  I had accumulated some material over the years operating the shop prior to buying up a lot of material at the AIH bankruptcy.  After that I bought out people who went bankrupt trying to sell material and suppliers that made the products.  I personally trucked & also hired others as well.  As for storing I have many locations that have been warehousing material all of these years. AIHOO:  So to travel to the bankruptcy auction in Texas and then get all this material from Texas back to Massachusetts must have taken a lot of time as well as cost you a bundle, not only to outbid other bidders, but transport it, and then store everything once it arrived in Southbridge.  Take us through how you pulled this off. IC:  Yes, it was very time consuming.  It wasn't easy to cross half the country by plane, attend the auction, and then move material in the time we had to pull this off.  We only had a few weeks to get it all done.  There was no play book as this was a first for both AIH and us, so we had to wing some of it and roll with the punches as things progressed.  We had to book one- way tickets and fly to Texas, rent rooms, plus rent vehicles to get around.  After successfully winning bids we had to rent rigs, hire guys, and truck this material back to Massachusetts.  Fuel and tolls were a killer – not to mention driving non-stop for 35 hours was grinding.  One trip alone would have been enough, but we had to do this multiple times – flying back to Texas and trucking stuff back to Southbridge.  Grueling. As far as bidding went, it was all screwed up. It went from flat rate bidding to percentage bidding on what it would cost based on the minimum amount you were going to spend.  After that they just did open bidding at the tail end of the auction. AIHOO:  So it sounds to us this was an expensive operation.  And continues to be to not only store all of this but also the time it takes to get this material sold as it isn’t making money sitting on a shelf, right? IC:  True, it cost a lot of money to acquire this material, and storage definitely adds to this expense.  No one paid us to cover our travel expenses let alone the labor it took to pull this off.  People think, or have an opinion, on how we should price material, but don’t take into consideration what was, and still is, involved.  They never take into account what we had to pay to purchase at auction, the financing involved to buy so much material, airline tickets, room rentals, car rentals, labor, truck rentals, fuel, tolls, storage, operational overhead, legal expense, taxes, etc So now we have product, and as a lot of what we have is used to repair bikes, it sits waiting for someone who needs parts, or wants to buy spare parts.  Either we store it which costs us money, or you do as spare parts.  Someone has to pay for this. AIHOO:  Seems you are playing to a small audience.  Do you expect parts will therefore be stored for some time? IC:  As for selling it, it really does take time.  Often a buyer calls us only to suck information out of us, then goes off looking for the part elsewhere.  Take a look on eBay and there are sellers who don’t know crap about the AIH stuff they are selling.  If they knew what we know, their eBay ads wouldn’t have disclaimers saying they don’t know which bikes the part will fit.  These eBay sellers are not true AIH dealers and suppliers.  Many eBay sellers are, or were, people looking to make a quick buck, and don’t have the inventory we dealers have – although a lot of the limited availability unique OEM stuff is now gone.  We dealers who still have stock paid more at auction for it than what some eBayers did for the small amount of parts they purchased – they didn’t have to bid-up to win large volumes of parts.  Although you may think our pricing is high, a lot of our products actually sell for less than what AIH originally paid.  Remember, these are unique factory custom motorcycles and are not Harley-Davidson bikes where every Tom, Dick, and Harry and mega distributors sell cheap third party non-OEM parts. AIHOO:  Maybe you ought to offer consulting at a per minute price, where the caller pre-purchases 10 minutes, 20 minutes, etc. of your time?  Maybe add some PayPal buttons on your website along with a requested date/time for the consultation to take place?  This might help two ways – you aren’t getting screwed out of providing what sounds like a misuse of your time for free consulting, and the customer chooses to either buy your parts or buy your knowledge and go buy parts somewhere else! IC:   Yeah, maybe that would help.  I’ll think about it. AIHOO:  Let’s talk a little more about pricing as we here at AIHOO have heard people complain about the high prices of your parts.  Are they?  Are they inflated? IC:  First off, people need to understand this is not a hobby.  I’m not just some guy with a few parts left over selling them on eBay or some biker forum.  This is a business.  Now as for inflated prices?  No.  But they do sell for more than what it cost us to purchase them.  As I just said, this is a business, and businesses have to cover the expense of obtaining, stocking, selling as I already said.  You asked are they priced high?  No.  Since AIH and Big Dog closed up shop, part prices have been the lowest industry prices to date.  Maybe people should ask themselves what it would have cost them to get to Texas and try and buy parts they’d have no idea about needing in the future, let alone if they’d be buying the correct parts to fit their year/model bike. AIHOO:  You’ve been doing this for quite a few years now.  It must be time consuming, so what does it take to keep a business like this going? IC:  I don't fully rely on part sales.  I can’t - it’s just not there.  We also repair bikes, customize bikes, and work to maintain a positive cash flow so we can keep satisfying our purchase order minimums and keep the business operational.  This business is beyond stressful.  I wear many hats as they say.  At times I feel I’m doing the jobs of 50 people working on operations, online orders, shipping, office work, purchasing, bookkeeping, warehousing, legal, trucking, service and repair, fitment, new parts designing and their fabrication, and so on.  It never seems to end.  So yes – it is very time consuming. AIHOO:  We understand you are now fabricating parts people seem to be constantly searching for which are no longer out there for sale by anyone. Any truth to this? If so, give us an idea of what’s up. IC:  Yes. Turn signal standoffs which we now have in stock, OEM design matching rear pulleys are coming, etc. AIHOO:  How do you think pricing will be? IC:  Depends.  We have to commit to purchasing reasonable quantities in order to drive down parts cost.  In a way, this is customer driven by customer demand. AIHOO:  We’ll have to continue this interview in another publication. Interested? IC:  You bet!  Then I can give you the details on how we are making replacement parts as well as what we have already made, what’s in process of being made, and what is in the design stage for fabrication. AIHOO:  Thanks Mark for part one of a very interesting interview. IC:  You’re welcome and thank you for doing this.
Click to email Italian Choppers:
ORGANIZATION ORGANIZATION OWNERS OWNERS For All American Ironhorse Motorcycle Owners
Italian Choppers
© 2012-2017   American IronHorse Owners Organization Use of AIH Logo Licensed by American Ironhorse, LLC 
February 2016 AIHOO Interviews: Italian Choppers – Part 1 Italian Choppers is an American IronHorse OEM parts supplier, manufacturer of replacement parts, and custom bike builder located in Southbridge, MA.  We are pleased to be able to publish this first of a multi-part interview that will provide insight into what it took to get into such a business and what it takes to keep it going, as well as what this business is up to these days - and where this company is headed. AIHOO:  Hello Mark, thank you for making time to be interviewed. IC:  You are welcome.  Will be fun to do this. AIHOO:  How and when did you get into this business? IC:  We first started up a small shop in 2002, then went full blown in 2006. AIHOO:  When we visited over five years ago, we saw firsthand a lot of parts you had stored – frames, sissy bars, etc. etc.  How did you come to acquire so much material?  Did you personally have to go get it or have it trucked for you?  And you have been storing all this material now for how many years? IC:  I had accumulated some material over the years operating the shop prior to buying up a lot of material at the AIH bankruptcy.  After that I bought out people who went bankrupt trying to sell material and suppliers that made the products.  I personally trucked & also hired others as well.  As for storing I have many locations that have been warehousing material all of these years. AIHOO:  So to travel to the bankruptcy auction in Texas and then get all this material from Texas back to Massachusetts must have taken a lot of time as well as cost you a bundle, not only to outbid other bidders, but transport it, and then store everything once it arrived in Southbridge.  Take us through how you pulled this off. IC:  Yes, it was very time consuming.  It wasn't easy to cross half the country by plane, attend the auction, and then move material in the time we had to pull this off.  We only had a few weeks to get it all done.  There was no play book as this was a first for both AIH and us, so we had to wing some of it and roll with the punches as things progressed.  We had to book one- way tickets and fly to Texas, rent rooms, plus rent vehicles to get around.  After successfully winning bids we had to rent rigs, hire guys, and truck this material back to Massachusetts.  Fuel and tolls were a killer – not to mention driving non-stop for 35 hours was grinding.  One trip alone would have been enough, but we had to do this multiple times – flying back to Texas and trucking stuff back to Southbridge.  Grueling. As far as bidding went, it was all screwed up. It went from flat rate bidding to percentage bidding on what it would cost based on the minimum amount you were going to spend.  After that they just did open bidding at the tail end of the auction. AIHOO:  So it sounds to us this was an expensive operation.  And continues to be to not only store all of this but also the time it takes to get this material sold as it isn’t making money sitting on a shelf, right? IC:  True, it cost a lot of money to acquire this material, and storage definitely adds to this expense.  No one paid us to cover our travel expenses let alone the labor it took to pull this off.  People think, or have an opinion, on how we should price material, but don’t take into consideration what was, and still is, involved.  They never take into account what we had to pay to purchase at auction, the financing involved to buy so much material, airline tickets, room rentals, car rentals, labor, truck rentals, fuel, tolls, storage, operational overhead, legal expense, taxes, etc So now we have product, and as a lot of what we have is used to repair bikes, it sits waiting for someone who needs parts, or wants to buy spare parts.  Either we store it which costs us money, or you do as spare parts.  Someone has to pay for this. AIHOO:  Seems you are playing to a small audience.  Do you expect parts will therefore be stored for some time? IC:  As for selling it, it really does take time.  Often a buyer calls us only to suck information out of us, then goes off looking for the part elsewhere.  Take a look on eBay and there are sellers who don’t know crap about the AIH stuff they are selling.  If they knew what we know, their eBay ads wouldn’t have disclaimers saying they don’t know which bikes the part will fit.  These eBay sellers are not true AIH dealers and suppliers.  Many eBay sellers are, or were, people looking to make a quick buck, and don’t have the inventory we dealers have – although a lot of the limited availability unique OEM stuff is now gone.  We dealers who still have stock paid more at auction for it than what some eBayers did for the small amount of parts they purchased – they didn’t have to bid-up to win large volumes of parts.  Although you may think our pricing is high, a lot of our products actually sell for less than what AIH originally paid.  Remember, these are unique factory custom motorcycles and are not Harley- Davidson bikes where every Tom, Dick, and Harry and mega distributors sell cheap third party non-OEM parts. AIHOO:  Maybe you ought to offer consulting at a per minute price, where the caller pre-purchases 10 minutes, 20 minutes, etc. of your time?  Maybe add some PayPal buttons on your website along with a requested date/time for the consultation to take place?  This might help two ways – you aren’t getting screwed out of providing what sounds like a misuse of your time for free consulting, and the customer chooses to either buy your parts or buy your knowledge and go buy parts somewhere else! IC:   Yeah, maybe that would help.  I’ll think about it. AIHOO:  Let’s talk a little more about pricing as we here at AIHOO have heard people complain about the high prices of your parts.  Are they?  Are they inflated? IC:  First off, people need to understand this is not a hobby.  I’m not just some guy with a few parts left over selling them on eBay or some biker forum.  This is a business.  Now as for inflated prices?  No.  But they do sell for more than what it cost us to purchase them.  As I just said, this is a business, and businesses have to cover the expense of obtaining, stocking, selling as I already said.  You asked are they priced high?  No.  Since AIH and Big Dog closed up shop, part prices have been the lowest industry prices to date.  Maybe people should ask themselves what it would have cost them to get to Texas and try and buy parts they’d have no idea about needing in the future, let alone if they’d be buying the correct parts to fit their year/model bike. AIHOO:  You’ve been doing this for quite a few years now.  It must be time consuming, so what does it take to keep a business like this going? IC:  I don't fully rely on part sales.  I can’t - it’s just not there.  We also repair bikes, customize bikes, and work to maintain a positive cash flow so we can keep satisfying our purchase order minimums and keep the business operational.  This business is beyond stressful.  I wear many hats as they say.  At times I feel I’m doing the jobs of 50 people working on operations, online orders, shipping, office work, purchasing, bookkeeping, warehousing, legal, trucking, service and repair, fitment, new parts designing and their fabrication, and so on.  It never seems to end.  So yes – it is very time consuming. AIHOO:  We understand you are now fabricating parts people seem to be constantly searching for which are no longer out there for sale by anyone. Any truth to this? If so, give us an idea of what’s up. IC:  Yes. Turn signal standoffs which we now have in stock, OEM design matching rear pulleys are coming, etc. AIHOO:  How do you think pricing will be? IC:  Depends.  We have to commit to purchasing reasonable quantities in order to drive down parts cost.  In a way, this is customer driven by customer demand. AIHOO:  We’ll have to continue this interview in another publication. Interested? IC:  You bet!  Then I can give you the details on how we are making replacement parts as well as what we have already made, what’s in process of being made, and what is in the design stage for fabrication. AIHOO:  Thanks Mark for part one of a very interesting interview. IC:  You’re welcome and thank you for doing this.
Click to email Italian Choppers:
ORGANIZATION ORGANIZATION OWNERS OWNERS
Italian Choppers