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Home grown

Hansen's BMW / Triumph / Ducati / KTM Motorcycles LCC

Owner: Craig Hansen

Age: 55

Address: 3598 S. Pacific Highway, Medford

Phone number: 535-3342E-mail: craig@hansensmc.com

Web site:

Number of employees: 10

Editor's note: This is one in a weekly series of profiles on locally owned and operated businesses in Southern Oregon.

What do you do and how long have you been doing it?

We started out as a BMW motorcycle dealer on Jan. 26, 1972. My dad, Lee, and I started the store together. In 1998 we added Triumph and in 1999 we added Ducati and in 2000 we added KTM.

How long have you lived in the Rogue Valley?

We moved here from Oakland, Calif., in 1966. I spent my senior year at the old Medford High before the new senior high opened.

What inspired you to go into this line of work?

I had just graduated from what is now Southern Oregon University with a degree in mathematics and I needed to go back to school in order to utilize my degree. My father had an auto repair shop and he said I could come in and learn a trade with him in 1971.

Then, the Honda motorcycle dealer, who had BMWs, went bankrupt. My dad had been intrigued by German technology and said we should see if we can get the franchise. It was sort of a hobby at first. Back then you could do it, there was no actual franchise cost. We got a credit line in my father's name for &

36;10,000 and scrounged up &

36;500 apiece for operating capital. We devoted one room of the shop, it was 15 by 25 feet, where we put two motorcycles and a parts counter while we still ran the repair shop. I bought my father out of the business in 1977.

What decision or action would you change if you could do it again?

Running the business, you might think you can change one thing, but then you don't realize how it would affect other things. Starting without money was difficult, but it taught me how to manage money and what service to provide to get money back in. Everything that was cumbersome taught me a lessons I would've never learned.

What's the toughest business decision you've made?

Probably firing my first employee. He had been with me for a while, business was changing and he wasn't able to keep up with it. The emotional part of firing someone was difficult. That was an awkward thing at the time.

Who are your competitors?

There are four other motorcycle dealerships in town, D&S Harley-Davidson; Naumes Oregon Motorsports; Yamaha, Kawasaki & Honda of Medford; and Medford Power Sports. There is a Harley crowd and BMW crowd. When you get into the Japanese lines there are probably a few that way, too. In the Japanese lines, manufacturer marketing is huge and sports and racing bikes draw people to particular brands.

In our case, it's a combination of all those. My store, because we've been here so long and work on certain ideals, has an extremely heavy referral. The first guys that bought motorcycles 30 years ago, even though they no longer ride, still come in to talk.

How do you define success for your business?

I define success not by how much I have, but where I began and where I ended up. My success is still being here and having a store that provides a good working environment for my staff and providing income for seven families. It's a place where customers come in the door and smile versus one where people only come in when they have to. For 2004, we were No. — out of 160 dealers in the United States for customer satisfaction ' based on interviews with customers and warranty follow-ups ' for BMW motorcycles.

What are your goals?

My main goal, because we've been growing the past five years, is to continue business that provides income for people as I get ready to retire. Most of my staff is in their 30s and I'm trying to create a place where they can continue to work. To do that, I kind of take it as it comes. I don't want to expand too much right now because I don't want to spend all the money on loans. I want to provide health care and good incomes for the people who work here. I don't need a memorial to me with a big name, the Hansen Building, or anything like that.

What training or education did you need?

The technical skills learned from either my father or seminars and training sessions put on by manufacturers. A lot of this stuff was self-taught when it came to managing the business.

The process of learning mathematics helped me take a problem and break it down into individual variables and come up with a solution. Being able to break a day up and put together a life equation helps me get through the day.

What's your advice for budding entrepreneurs?

The thing I see every time someone new gets into this business is that they only look at the gravy. Sometimes they don't realize it's more than an 8-to-5 job. They don't look at the finance side or developing a business plan. They don't look at all the costs related into actually surviving. My advice would be to go to Rogue Community College and take a class in business planning.

The second thing, is they think they are their own boss. I've averaged almost 70 hours a week for 34 years, that's what it takes.

Craig Hansen sells European motorcycles from his shop on South Pacific Highway near Phoenix. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell - Mail Tribune Bob Pennell