Four ex-employees of the former Rocky Mount Harley-Davidson are now operating their own full-service, pre-owned motorcycle dealership.
Ray Page, Andy Cash, Ernest Jones and Pete Mattei are business partners of Rock City Powersports located at 435 S. Wesleyan Blvd. in the Maple Creek Plaza next to longtime clothing store J. Royal. Rock City Powersports opened March 15 and held an official grand opening April 8.
“We’re all family and this is definitely a family business,” Mattei said. “We wanted to make sure we have personal relationships with our customers, which is the reason why we close at 1 p.m. on Saturdays, so we have time to ride with our customers.”
The partners said the idea of running their own motorcycle dealership and shop had been in the works for about two years while they held full-time jobs at the Rocky Mount Harley-Davidson. Cash, who had run a motorcycle shop for more than 15 years in Roanoke Rapids, was a service manager at Rocky Mount Harley-Davidson, while Jones did accounting, Page was a sales manager and Mettei was a salesperson.
They also knew Boddie-Noell Enteprises was looking to sell the local Harley-Davidson dealership, which was purchased earlier this year by Virginia-based Black Cat Harley-Davidson.
“We didn’t want to work for someone different, and we thought it was time for us to move on,” Cash said. “We were still working our regular jobs and then coming at night and getting this place ready.”
Jones said the remodeling and repairs of the building, which had been vacant for a few years after being an Internet sweepstakes cafe, was an $ 18,000 project. The 2,400-square-foot building has retail space in front for riding apparel such as helmets, boots, shoes, shirts and used motorcycles on display and an 800-square-foot shop in the back for motorcycle repair service.
The steady amount of repair work has already led Rock City Powersports to consider looking for a bigger space once its one-year lease is up in November, Cash said. He added the ideal space would be 2,000 square feet for retail and 2,000 square feet for a shop.
Metti said Rock City Powersports was forced to purchase a storage container for customers’ bikes because of the high number of people coming in needing service and repairs.
“From the day we’ve opened, we have been jam packed with service work, and we’ve had a lot of customers when we worked at the Harley-Davidson that have followed us and come over here to us,” Page said. “We’ve also had a lot of new people in the community who have come in and glad to know a small shop like us is in town.”
The business owners have been active in the community since opening. As part of the grand opening, Rock City Powersports held a fundraiser to help My Sister’s House and is slated in the near future to be a part of a city of Rocky Mount event at the Imperial Centre for the Arts and Sciences, Page said.
Rock City Powersports recently partnered with several local businesses in town for a first-time movie showing at the Booker T. Theatre in downtown Rocky Mount.
“The local community here and the local independent businesses have a really tight bond, and that’s what I like about Rocky Mount,” Cash said.
Rock City Powersports also believes the business climate in the local economy is improving for small businesses.
“Our business has been busier over here the last two months than we were last year over there (Rocky Mount Harley-Davidson),” Cash said. “I think people are inclined to spend money right now. I think the biggest thing is small businesses is what built America, and I think that is coming back. I think people are wanting to go back to small businesses and knowing who works on their stuff.”
Rock City Powersports is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.