Likes County work ethic, land speed track
A classic motorcycle parts company based in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, is on its way to taking up residence at the Loring Commerce Centre, pending successful completion of the building sale.
The Loring Development Authority last week approved the sale of Building #8716, part of the former “Blue Goose” complex, to British Cycle Supply. The company is in the process of closing its U.S. warehouse in Hackensack, N.J., and wants to relocate closer to Canada.
Mark Appleton is the company’s president of Canadian operations. Speaking from Nova Scotia Monday evening, Appleton said he was “very favorably impressed” with the area, and is pretty settled on the local facility for his business, thanks in large part to work done by the Loring Development Authority and president and CEO Carl Flora,
“I would say I’ve chosen it,” he said. “Everybody we’ve talked to has been very supportive. … Nobody treated us like we were too small to deal with.” If all goes well he foresees beginning operations this summer.
British Cycle Supply was launched in 1977. Appleton had lived in Toronto and worked at a cycle business. “I hung around the shop for so long, they hired me,” he quipped. When he wanted to begin his own business, he “ended up in Nova Scotia,” later opening the New Jersey warehouse which was run by his father. “He retired 10 years ago,” said Appleton, and the man running that part of the operation now is poised for retirement, so the time is right for a move.
Flora said yesterday that the LDA board had authorized him to complete the sale agreement for a price of $83,000. The “Blue Goose” site, which most recently housed the Maine Military Authority, has eight vehicle bays, four on each side of a center section housing offices, the boiler and mechanical rooms.
“One of the vehicle bays would be separated and set up for shipping and receiving,” Flora said. “The remainder of the overhead doorways would be sealed to improve heating efficiency, leaving the other vehicle bays available for warehousing.”
Appleton said he had asked that the building’s heating system be rendered operable as it has been shut down since the MMA departed.
Although he admitted Loring is a bit farther north than he would have liked, he feels the benefits outweigh the geography. He cited infrastructure and the “can-do” attitude he has seen in The County as major factors. “I want a little better work ethic than in northern New Jersey,” he pointed out, “and I can say that because I’m from there.”
“The building was built by the Army Corps of Engineers. It’s a solid building,” he explained. And, he said he has confidence in the roads and other infrastructure, along with the technical expertise to facilitate his Internet presence.
While he acknowledges the business won’t be large at first – he plans to start out with two employees – he foresees room for expansion.
“We’ll start off with two [employees], and if it works well, I could see expanding a bit.” At present, the U.S. operation is warehousing and distribution only, but Appleton said he’d like to get into providing some clothing such as T-shirts, and perhaps even move into assembling a few lines of motorcycles.
“A U.S.-made product has an advantage in the markets,” he noted. “I’ve learned that.”
British Cycle provides parts for motorbikes of a certain age. “Nothing we sell parts for is after 1987; most are pre-1983,” he explained. “I’m a third-generation wholesale distributor – my grandfather sold wholesale cycle goggles.”
Appleton is pleasantly surprised by the attention his news has garnered. “We were on TV the other night. That was nice,” he said. “And I’ve already received one job application.”
In addition to the business, Appleton is enthusiastic about the potential presented by the Loring Timing Association’s annual land speed races. His company has sponsored similar races in Nova Scotia, and he said he’d like to “develop some synergy” between his cycle company and the event.
“The clincher, really, is the track,” he added. “I really hope the area takes that ball and runs with it. They’re sitting on a gold mine.”
Appleton said Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats, home of the most famous land speed trials, are deteriorating. “There is so much potential for the area here. Utah’s loss is going to be Maine’s gain, if everything goes well.”