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2013-09-12

Brown's Cycle Service revs up on growth

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

Jamie Brown opened his motorcycle service shop, Brown's Cycle Service, in November of 2012. He offers quality work with "more personal attention for less money than the big shops in the city," he said. "Here you know who's working on the bike."
Brown has been "infatuated with cycles since I was a kid," he confessed. Since mom and dad didn't exactly support his interest, he managed to sneak off and ride his friends' dirt bikes. In exchange, he learned to build and repair them. He points with pride to a couple of fading photographs on the wall. "That's me on my first dirt bike." Apparently, mom and dad eventually came around to his point of view!
"But even before I did dirt bikes, I was taking apart bicycles and putting them back together," he said.
With that natural interest, no one would be surprised to discover that Brown learned to be a machinist and an aircraft mechanic. However, motorcycles continued their siren song and one day he found himself in a Harley shop in Austin asking for a job. "Can you work on 'em?" he was asked.
The shop had a custom bike service and he apprenticed to the mechanic running the customizing department. He eventually worked at several Harley dealerships, going to the company schools and earning his certifications.
"But corporate America burns you up," he said. "You work hard and they make all the money!"
That reality led to Brown opening an independent shop in Corpus Christi. "All I had were my tools and the knowledge. I actually got a loan from a pawn shop to start up!"
He became acquainted with Bandera with weekend rides that ended up at 11th Street Cowboy Bar or elsewhere in the Hill Country. "A friend of mine moved here and I usually stayed the weekend. Then I realized that more and more, I didn't want to go home."
He began looking for a business location, and when he got a chance at the 71205 Cottonwood property, he closed up his Corpus shop and opened up here.
His business plan includes working hard at achieving his goals. "I started a little retail section in the front and it's done so well that I plan to double the size of the space," he said. The retail section currently offers hats, T-shirts, sunglasses, gloves, belts, knives, helmets, bike accessories, and more.
Being versatile is a key to small business success, he said. "I knew I couldn't just do the Harleys here. And I needed to do the 4-wheelers, too [brought in by local ranchers and hunters]. They keep me busy."
Other changes in the plan involve opening up a wall to provide a drive through access, and using the spacious side yard as a spot for barbecues. "A lot of people just stop by and hang out," he said, "and we want to become a 'ride to' destination."
Owning your own business in a small town certainly offers its challenges. "If you're determined, there's a way [to achieve your goals]."
Retirement is not one of Brown's goals. He loves coming in to work, admitting that if he has to be away from the shop he gets antsy after a couple of days. "As I get older, I hope to work smarter, not harder. I hope I'll be able to expand enough that I will have some staff so that I can cut back and just be the manager."
He has been pleasantly surprised by the support he's gotten from local bikers. "With gas prices, people commuting, I think it will only get busier."
So far, he's enjoyed getting to know the people of Bandera County and he still rides "every chance I get." Running his own business is working out well.
"When we work for somebody else, we feel like little robots," he said. "With my own shop, I can set the goals... I can rely on myself."
In addition to repairs and service, Brown also sells bikes on consignment. Give him a call at 830-796-4599.