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The motorcycle-riding bad boy has been a mythical ideal for American men ever since James Dean donned black leather in the 1950s. In true entrepreneurial style, EagleRider Inc. has found a way to harness that myth and make it a reality for rebel wannabes everywhere.
Founded in 1992 by Harley Davidson devotees Chris McIntyre and Jeffery Brown, EagleRider rents out the complete motorcycle experience. With nearly a quarter of a million dollars in start-up costs (the bulk of which went to financing 16 Harley Davidsons), the 34- and 35-year-old entrepreneurs, respectively, tapped into a niche market that caters to adventure-seeking professionals and destination-bound tourists who long for a different type of vacation.
Say a tourist wants to ride up the California coast. After a limousine ride from the airport, courtesy of EagleRider, the adventurer is decked out in Harley gear (available at the EagleRider store) and hits the open road. Walk in with a suit--walk out in black leather.
The partners' first adventure was to purchase the bikes. McIntyre and Brown spent one weekend visiting various Harley showrooms with their girlfriends, posing as typical couples looking to buy his-and-hers hogs. After being approved for loans, the savvy entrepreneurs drove around with a U-Haul to pick up the bikes from the showrooms. It was Monday morning before the bank officers realized that two men had financed 16 cycles. It was perfectly legal, though not particularly frugal, as they had to buy retail. Eight years and a solid reputation later, EagleRider has finally secured a fleet program with Harley Davidson for purchasing cycles in bulk.
Based in Torrance, California, EagleRider also has company-owned or franchised locations in San Francisco, Chicago, Las Vegas, Denver, San Diego, and Phoenix, just to name a few. "We cater to their dreams," says McIntyre of his customers. Although the partners plan to open franchises nationwide (and eventually worldwide), they don't want to oversaturate the market. Start-up costs range from $50,000 to $100,000, plus the cost of the bikes, with the total investment running near $500,000. EagleRider's ultimate goal is to open franchises in locales convenient for the customers it targets. With 1999 sales of about $5 million, these entrepreneurs are taking the ride of their lives.
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EagleRider Inc., (800) 501-8687, http://www.eaglerider.com