Scott Colosimo was broke and unemployed, but he had a dream of starting his own custom motorcycle company. The man behind Cleveland CycleWerks takes us through how it all started.
And so the story of busted knuckles, sleepless nights and intense moments of insanity begin…
It was a warm night in Cleveland, mid summer 2008, when Scott Colosimo rode his custom build bobber to downtown Cleveland to meet up with some work colleagues at an outdoor patio of a downtown bar. This is a regular ritual for any biker, anywhere in the world. This night was different though, a friend of mine (Chris Moore also a work colleague) just got done laying down some sick pin striping on the tank and fenders of my new build, and when I parked the bike, it drew a huge crowd. This was also the 1st time I had taken the bike out in full kit, as you know custom builders never finish their own bikes.
The question every asked was how much I spent on the bike, expecting some astronomical number like $30,000, but when I told them I had built this bare bones bike for under $5000, people straight up called me a liar, thinking I did not really want to reveal the thousands I spent on parts and labor. I told them we live in Cleveland, this is blue collar, do it yourself, can’t pay the mortgage land. Everyone agreed, except the 20 or so older gentlemen who had in-deed spent over $25,000 modifying their bikes, and were now being upstaged by some young punk on a cheep cool bike.
Fast forward a few months it is now 2009, and imagine the exact same work colleagues sitting at the exact same bar, much colder as summer was over and in fact it was just about to snow, but with one slight difference. We were all just LAID OFF……………. So, doing what all eternal optimist do, we drank and bitched about how we were the hardest workers, the best people at the company, etc, etc, etc.
Now mind you I had the idea brewing for about 2 years of starting a motorcycle parts company, customizing and fabricating parts by hand to sell to custom shops and over the Internet.
So with nothing to loose, business plan ½ written up, and delusions of grandeur. I pitched the idea of making bikes just like my custom bike available to the public for under $5000. Not just parts but to make Cleveland CycleWerks a motorcycle Manufacturer for the people. The idea was met with excitement but not much more. Now mind you this was not my 1st attempt at starting a company, so I was used to my crazy ideas being met with a blasé response, and rolled eyes.
So I go home with my dream well received but no concrete plans to move forward. I am big thinker, but just about broke, unemployed, and depressed about being laid off for the 1st time in my life.
The next day I get a call from the former Director of Marketing (Jarrod Streng) who I worked closely with at my former job. Jarrod and I have always worked well together because of our grand visions and our ability to execute and add our own creative spin. Jarrod tells me that he has been up all night going over and over this idea. So Jarrod mentions that he will fund 30 bikes to be built. At this point I am ecstatic because I now have the funding to start what I have wanted to do since I was 15. Build bikes full time.
Add a few more months and we are now hand fabricating the prototype in a friends shop down in Ashland, Ohio. The idea of building 30 bikes has turned into mass production of over 3000 bikes and the beginning of Cleveland CycleWerks as a true motorcycle brand, not just some guy building 1 off parts in his garage.
Here is where we take on another partner (Curtis Ray) and all three of us hop on a flight to China and start looking for manufacturers for our new-formed company. Side note, We tried to start manufacturing for 6 months in Cleveland, Ohio, but we were told by every company I contacted, and every government agency, that I was either crazy, did not know what I was getting into, or that I looked like I was 16, and to kindly leave their office. We do have American pride, and we are manufacturing more and more parts in the US. CCW is truly an American enterprise, and more then 10 people are currently employed because of CCW products, not to mention all of the shipping, logistics and custom builders now building parts for our bikes.
So, now there are 3 Americans traveling to over 50 factories in China looking for the right manufacturer’s to produce various parts, and assemble our product. We do not know the language, we can not legally drive in this country and I keep asking myself what the hell are we doing here.
Fast forward yet again another 4 months and we have our first batch of production samples on the floor of the factory, yes there were many hardships to overcome, yes I lived in rural China for over 4 months, yes I can now eat like I am Chinese, but we have a bike that is ready for production, and bikes are now being shipped to Texas for EPA testing.
Fast forward yet another 4 months and now it is February 13th 2010. Jarrod and I are standing at the Dealer Expo in Indianapolis with our 1st bike “tha Heist”. We are proud and excited that we had gone from idea to market in less then 14 months. The bike is well received, and we have just started sales and distribution worldwide February 2010.
In August 2010, we sign our US Distributor and exclusive CCW brand distribution partner, PIT Motors Ltd. September 2010, we establish our European Distribution arm, and that same month, Distribution starts in South Africa.
CCW was established with a vision, and that is to give customers, a quality, affordable bike that is beautiful. A bike that gets more people riding again, and that people are proud to own. Most of us just want a cool bike to ride that we can afford and be proud of, pretty simple concept.
For more on Cleveland CycleWerks visit their website.