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An article from today's Bradenton Herald . . . interesting comments from Nobile on returning to Gilroy.  NOW he figures out that the overhead killed them.

 

 

Chris-Craft parent buys rights to Indian bikes

 

Manatee County on list of possible manufacturing sites

 

DUANE MARSTELLER

 

Herald Staff Writer

 

 

MANATEE - Already home to a legendary icon on the water, Manatee County could become the new home of another one on the road.

 

Stellican Ltd., the British equity firm that revived Chris-Craft boats in southern Manatee, has acquired the intellectual property of the defunct Indian Motorcycle Co. Stellican would not say how much it paid for Indian's trademarks, logos, licensing rights and proprietary designs, but the minimum asking price was $2.5 million.

 

As it did with Chris-Craft, Stellican hopes to resurrect the Indian brand by slowly resuming production of Chiefs, Scouts and other models, possibly in Manatee County, a partner said Tuesday.

 

"We will be spending a good period of time deciding how we will work it out," said Stephen Julius, Stellican's founder and Chris-Craft's chairman. "We will be evaluating a number of different locations, from Gilroy, California, to Springfield, Massachusetts, to Florida and Manatee County."

 

Indian was founded in Springfield in 1901 and dominated the U.S. motorcycle market by World War II, only to cease production in 1953. Despite that, Indian continued to enjoy popularity among motorcycling enthusiasts, who pay as much as $60,000 for fully restored models.

 

An investors' group in Gilroy revived the company in 1999, but it shut down production and laid off 380 workers last September after a financing deal fell through.

 

Manatee County economic development officials said they're interested in landing an Indian production facility, saying it would bring manufacturing jobs that typically pay higher wages.

 

"We're working to make contact" with Stellican, said Nancy Engel, executive director of the Manatee Economic Development Council. "We'll need to know more about the company and what its needs are."

 

But Manatee already is facing competition.

 

"We're putting a package together that we believe will be competitive and hopefully will succeed in keeping Indian production here," said Bill Lindsteadt, executive director of the Gilroy Economic Development Corp.

 

Although Indian's Gilroy plant was later sold to satisfy creditors, the 172,000-square-foot facility remains unoccupied and available for lease, Lindsteadt said.

 

But George Nobile, who helped revive the company and was an Indian vice president when it shut down, said he wouldn't recommend returning to that facility.

 

"Our biggest mistake was building infrastructure to support a 20,000-bike-a-year manufacturing operation," he said. "I don't think we ever built more than 6,000 (in a year). The overhead killed us."

 

Stellican will spend up to six months assessing the motorcycle market and Indian's prospects before deciding how and where to resume production, Julius said. Even then, it likely will focus on building a market niche instead of taking on motorcycle heavyweight Harley-Davidson, he said.

 

That's the same tactic Stellican used to revitalize Chris-Craft, which was shut down for nine months before the London-based group bought it in 2001. The boatmaker expects to increase its workforce from 225 to 200 employees, produce 600 boats and generate $40 million in sales this fiscal year.

 

Julius said he pursued Indian's intellectual property because of the company's similarities to Chris-Craft.

 

"They're both iconic American heritage brands with loyal followings that fell on some tough times," he said. "To bring it back, having a sense of the brand is vital. It is something we proved at Chris-Craft and we intend to do the same with Indian."

 

A local Indian dealer said he was optimistic Stellican's success with boats will translate to motorcycles despite the previous owner's failure.

 

"Customers will have a cautious attitude because of what happened last time," said Don Smith, owner of Iron Force Cycles in Sarasota. "I'm quite certain these guys (Stellican) will do it right and win back the respect of the motorcycle community."

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Another article from the Sarasota Herald Tribune . . . note the difference in corporate tax rates from California (8.84) to Florida (5.5); and with a goal of up to 2,000 bikes a year, do they really need the white elephant factory in Gilroy?

 

Motorcycle maker scopes out area

 

BY KEVIN MCQUAID

 

Although an official decision on the site of a new manufacturing plant is probably months away, the owners of Indian Motorcycle Co. are already considering Southwest Florida.

 

Stellican Ltd. reiterated Tuesday that the London-based investment firm, which acquired the trademark and logo rights to the venerable motorcycle brand late last week, is evaluating numerous sites.

 

The Sarasota-Bradenton area is among several contenders being considered, Stellican founder Stephen Julius said.

 

Others include Gilroy, Calif., where Indian made bikes from 1998 to September 2003, and Springfield, Mass., where the company was founded in 1901.

 

"Southwest Florida is one of a number of possibilities," Julius said. "All the areas that we're considering will be carefully evaluated."

 

As Stellican begins its analysis, economic development officials are preparing to do battle to lure the legendary cycle company and the hundreds of potential high-paying jobs Indian would bring.

 

When Indian closed its doors last year in Gilroy, 30 miles south of San Jose, Calif., it laid off more than 350 workers.

 

"Of course we're going to do everything we can to get them here," said Bill Lindsteadt, executive director of the Gilroy Economic Development Corp. "The idea is to put your best foot forward and hope you have good-looking feet."

 

Lindsteadt said he'll push Gilroy's experienced, skilled labor force and building availability in his efforts to woo Indian.

 

Indian's now shuttered plant, a 150,000-square-foot former distribution center for a grocery chain, remains vacant, Lindsteadt said.

 

Meanwhile, local economic development officials also intend to go aggressively after Indian, a manufacturer that could stem the job losses brought about by defections by SecurityLink, Bausch & Lomb Inc., Tropicana Products and others.

 

"We're in the process now of looking at the different business costs in Florida, Massachusetts and California," said Nancy Engel, executive director of the Manatee County economic development council.

 

"Potentially, they'd be eligible for grant money for training employees and other state tax refund programs," said Kathy Baylis, who heads Sarasota County's economic development efforts.

 

Engel said California's corporate income tax rate, at 8.84 percent, is significantly higher than Florida's corporate tax rate of 5.5 percent.

 

"We're trying now to decide how to build our case for this this area," Engel said.

 

Perhaps the best case may be found at 8161 15th St. E. in Manatee County, just east of the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport.

 

That's where Stellican operates Chris-Craft Corp. Ltd., the luxury boat maker Stellican bought in March 2001. As an incentive to hire back laid-off workers, the state provided the company with roughly $600,000 in tax credits tied to employment. Chris-Craft now employs 250 and expects to generate sales of $40 million this fiscal year.

 

"We've worked hard to make this a good place for Chris-Craft," Engel said. "And we think they're happy with the assistance we've provided."

 

Julius said a number of criteria will factor into the decision on where to locate Indian's production plant.

 

The factors will include availability of skilled labor and management, wage rates and state and local incentives, he said.

 

"With Indian, we're starting off with a blank sheet of paper, which is a huge advantage," Julius said. "Our most likely strategy will be the one we followed with Chris-Craft: Start slowly and do things right."

 

Regardless of where Indian lands, the cycle maker likely won't initially require the same amount of space -- more than three acres under roof -- that it had in Gilroy.

 

Julius said Indian will probably concentrate on building between 2,000 and 3,000 motorcycles a year initially.

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That article has a most definite Florida bias (I wonder why?  :eyebrow: ) and I wouldn't put too much stock in it other than the fact that the old factory WAS too big.

 

Think about this for a moment, if it was too big for the 6k or so bikes a year they were building, then you can only imagine how gigantic it is for the 1500-3000 they intend to now build. Doesn't take a rocket scientist to finger out this one.

 

*IF* they restart in the former Gilroy plant they'll only take a portion of it. That "IF" is bigger than the national debt as I really can't see them building in Calif UNLESS major financial breaks are offered from not only the town but from the state itself. If the Governator is serious about making this state attractive to business then this could be a great lightning rod of publicity.

 

But I don't see it happening. Most likely after all is said and done they'll end up in Florida for the simple fact that C-C is already there and it'll make life easier for management to keep tabs on operations. Florida, like may other Southern states, is pretty hungry for business and will accommodate them with more goodies than Calif can or will (at this moment anyway).

-ANT

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I agree for what it is worth that it will end up in Florida, Alabama or South Carolina...as the ones trying to get it before the shutdown and now pursuing it.  Springfield would only be fore historical sake...but not sure how good Mass is on business incentives and such...plus the weather sucks for riding....hahahahha

 

I think the Gilroy people are trying to use the Vulcan Mind Meld on this deal to talk someone into using Gilroy again...I hope they RUN AWAY FAST and just forget that whole area.  Even though I would luv it here in SC....I think the motorspeedway in Alabama makes sense for testing and having a venue large enough for a company rally every couple years one day....any of them are better than California though.

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George states that the structure of the factory was their "Biggest mistake"? Only goes to show that IMC former executives made so many "mistakes" that they have lost track and have no clue how to categorize them all in order of fatality and damaging consequences. This guy should just put a sock in it, say "no further comment", go about his own business and let the new owners go on about the business of building a new Indian Motorcycle Company free of the carnage and disorder of the past.    :;):
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