Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Shop Profile- Freebyrd Custom Motorcycles Brogue PA

Well, we are just starting out here at the TCB and with the exception of Rolling Thunder XXIX there ain't much laying around in the way of travel money.  So, I thought I would get the ball rolling with our Shop Profile by doing my local shop, Freebyrd Custom Motorcycles.  They along with Kenny from Mad Monk Machines are the only ones that work on my beloved.  I am glad I did because even though I spend a lot of time there I learned a lot I didn't know after sitting down with the owner Mike Godwin.

Mike Godwin
TCB-  Mike, thanks for taking the time out and talking with me.  Tell me the history of Freebyrds.

MG-  Glad to do it man.  About 14 years ago I was the regional vice president of Republic Waste and had been there for 27 years.  I was in charge of a 6000 vehicle fleet.  I had managed to work my way up from doing oil changes to VP.  I was living and working in VA and Pam (co-owner and Mike's wife) and Hollie (his daughter) were living up here (PA).

Mike & Pam
Pam called me one night and said her 90 FXST was not running right, so I told her to take it to the HD dealer in Harrisburg.  She did and they said they fixed it.  She went to pick it up and it was getting dark.  She fired it up and there were no lights.  When they put it back together, they had pinched some wiring.  They told her to come get it the next day, so she did.  On the ride home, the carb actually fell off.  She called the dealership and they said that had nothing to do with them and not to bring the bike back.
That experience started the whole thing.

Pam and I decided that I would leave my job and we were going to open up a motorcycle shop.  We wanted to provide personalized service and take care of people, like a family.  Customer service was going to come first.

We have been in the building 11 years but officially opened our doors on March 12, 2006, my Dad's birthday.  We just celebrated our 10 year anniversary.  As a matter of fact, I can tell you how many bikes we have worked on in that time.  (He gets up and leaves the office to walk out front.  Pam was off today since they are not open on Monday's and use the time to concentrate on motor work)  Going by repair orders we have worked on 7,525 bikes, and that is not counting things like tires we don't do a ticket for.
Jeffro is well...special.
For the first few years it was just me and Pam.  Then Hollie, and eventually three mechanics.  The mechanics have come and gone.  You know Dave, he always wanted to own his own repo business.  I encouraged him. Everyone should follow their dreams.  I did.

MG-  How tough the business is, with overhead and all.  I have seen shops come and go around here.  You have to make 12 months worth of money in 8 months (referring to our winter).  We work on all types of bikes.  We have to.

TCB-  What would be your advice to anyone thinking about opening a shop?

MG- You gotta love it.  Yesterday we had the whole family over for a BBQ.  Everyone was having a good time.  I really wanted an ice cold beer, but I always think "what if someone breaks down and needs me to take the trailer to get them" (I have been that person before).  The other night I had just gotten home when the phone rang.  A customer had laid down her bike.  She was OK, and her boyfriend was taking her to the ER, and I went and got the bike.

Main shop
TCB- What advice would you give customers to save them money (besides air pressure, which I have already covered)?

MG- Preventive maintenance man, preventive maintenance.  You have to check your tires, check and change your oil, check the other fluids.

TCB-  What is the #1 thing that the shady tree bike mechanics screw up on his or someone else's bike that ends up costing  money in the long run?

MG-  Wiring, man, wiring.  They twist that shit together and wrap it with electrical tape.  They don't realize that makes it take more voltage for the current to travel.  You have to solder and shrink tube that shit.

TCP- What's with the dealerships?  I know if I went in there with my 92 Fatboy they would look at me like I had a dick growing out of my head.

MG- Yeah, they would.  Unless they have a guy in there that has been there for 30 years, he will have no idea on how to work on it.  You got an Evo, they have been working on twin cams for 10 years.  They hire these kids out of YTI and put them to work on your bike.  They might be a great mechanic in five years, but not now.

TCB-  I know through personal experience that you always go out of your way to support Veterans.  Why is that?

MG- Man, my family has served in the military all the way back  My older Brother was in Vietnam.  Right now I have....(puts his head back to add them up) 2 nieces and 5 nephews currently serving.  Our military goes out there and protects me so I can be here working on your motorcycle.  How awesome is that?

TCB-  Mike, I really appreciate you taking the time.  I am just going to go out in the shop and take some pictures.

MG- My pleasure man.  Now I gotta get my ass back to work. (Mike does as much or more wrenching than his mechanics do).

Me, Mike & Jeffro

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