Monthly Archives: June 2012

Father’s Day and Memories of Dad

With this past Sunday being Father’s Day, I joined the masses in remembering the special moments and great memories of my father, who passed away a few years ago. These thoughts helped me recognize just how important my dad was in planting the seeds that helped steer me down a path to a very satisfying career in the motorcycle industry. For me, the path contains a rewarding journey that was germinated from a fairly young and impressionable age and has included so much motorcycling in my personal and professional life.

Perhaps not as young as some, I was nearly a teenager before I got my first ride on the back of a Honda 65S that belonged to a neighbor’s son who had recently returned from a tour in Vietnam. All I can recall of that fateful ride is how FAST we were going, and the sensory-overload I experienced in leaning over on a bike through a corner! Of course, a Honda 65S, as we now know, really isn’t that fast, but the sensations were burned into my soul. Throw in surf rock band The Hondells’ hit ‘Little Honda’ that came out around that time and the table was set for my newfound addiction.

Except Mom really wasn’t all that interested in us having bikes, so I went without one for a couple years. One day, Dad returned home from a business trip and declared that motorcycles were cool, and that he was going to have one. I never really found out what it was that he rode on that trip, but he had gained the passion, and our lives were changed! At that point, Mom didn’t stand a chance with a house full of boys and Dad ganging up on her.

Dad’s first bike was acquired from his brother, my Uncle Skip – a Honda Trail (CT)90. I think this was when I was about 14, and we rode it around the yard in upstate New York. My experiences included the lack of traction on angled wet roots and other close-up terra firma incidents. While gaining skill, I was also clearly bitten by the bug, but wasn’t old enough to ride on the road. A couple years later, I was working weekends and summers in a gas station and the owner’s son had a somewhat-disassembled white CB160 Honda Supersport in the back. Being gainfully employed with an income, I purchased my first bike with $75 of my savings. It came complete with no front or rear fender, a broken headlight, a street rib tread tire in the front, and a knobby in the back. With a tire setup like that it was the original adventure bike, and it saw many a single track, low pipes and all!

Dad helped me source a headlight from ads in the motorcycle magazines he brought home, and I ultimately ordered a cool one displayed in a Bates ad. All I remember is that in my youthful impatience, it took way too long for it to arrive in the mail! However, while waiting, I gained an affinity for enthusiast magazines’ ability to help feed the passion, and they soon became a staple of my reading diet – which included sneaking in a read or two while in Mr. Bunting’s history class in high school. Who would have guessed how much this early magazine reading foreshadowed my eventual career in motorcycle publishing!

While living off-campus as a junior in college, I purchased my first new bike – a 1973 SL125 Honda dual-purpose bike. I think it was during winter break and I recall my father going to the dealer with me in Lenox, Massachusetts, and getting the dealer to knock $50 off the price because it was snowing that day. In addition to the campus cool factor of riding a bike, for a starving college student like me there were additional benefits. The gas savings gained by riding, and not feeding my 1966 Ford Galaxie with a thirsty 289 cubic-inch V8, could be converted into happy-hour beers on Friday afternoon that quenched my thirst! The economic lesson was clear though, and it remains one of my long-term goals to convince Americans that two wheels are a viable form of transportation that not only offers economic benefits, but emotional ones as well. A shout out to Andy Goldfine of Aerostich fame, who has been beating this drum for years with his creation of the annual ‘Ride to Work Day’, which took place on Monday of this week, June 18th. It seems that the momentum is building thanks to his vision.

As I look ahead to 2013 and the organizing needed to produce the inaugural American International Motorcycle Expo, I try to keep the spirit of motorcycling from my early days fresh, to infuse and inspire what we’re creating. I can envision that Orlando, with its backdrop of premier entertainment venues, will spur consumer attendance from fathers bringing their sons and daughters to not only Disney World and Sea World, but also to ‘AIMExpo World’ in hopes of starting the stimulation of the next generation of motorcyclists as well!

I thank my father for the inspiration he provided that helped make it possible for me to make my avocation my vocation. Dad passed in 2008 and having served our country as a Naval Aviator, he is interred at the Barrancas National Cemetery in Naval Air Station Pensacola, in Florida. It somehow seems fitting that my father’s early influences on me will result in the creation of something new and energizing for the motorcycle industry next year, down the road from Pensacola in Orlando. Thanks Dad!

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Why Orlando For The 2013 AIMExpo?

As announced a few weeks ago, Orlando will serve as the host city for the inaugural AIMExpo in October of 2013. I shared on a previous blog the considerations for a city to be chosen and I figured it would be good to give you some of the specifics as to why we chose Orlando, Fla. and the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC).

We started with a long list of cities that we thought may have the potential of serving as host to our first event. Over the period of some 12 months we spoke to many of you about your needs in regards to the purpose a show serves you; its timing, location, costs, etc… and developed a list of key attributes. As we narrowed our list of candidate cities, the importance of addressing and balancing these factors to delivering the best possible show experience the first time around was paramount.

In addition, the host site (both city and venue) are vital to instilling the vision of AIMExpo. Upon describing to an OEM executive that one of our core goals was to act as a catalyst to energize industry, trade and consumers in one place a one time, he responded quickly saying, “you’re creating motorcycling’s Super Bow!” And in large respect, he’s right – except we’re a lot more fun than a sport with a ball!

After much searching, and a lot of deliberation Orlando emerged as ‘the venue most likely to succeed’.

First, the OCCC was able to meet the diverse needs of AIMExpo. The facility offers impressive potential for the long-term growth of the expo, and includes a massive 2,600-seat theater for major OEM dealer presentations and other anticipated related events. In addition, there’s a spacious outdoor area that can host demo rides, exhibitions, and more. And Florida being a ‘right to work’ state with cost saving implications for exhibitors – simply put, the OCCC fit the bill.

Visitors to AIMExpo will find that the OCCC is connected via walkway to a number of hotels, and is a short walk from many others. Numerous restaurant properties are in close proximity to the show hotels. Another key is that the OCCC is a short 20 minute ride from the Orlando International Airport.

The city’s attractions are arguably the most popular places to visit on the planet, including Disney World, Sea World, and Universal Studios. With this aspect, the show becomes more of a destination to attendees, while the international recognition of Orlando is exactly what AIMExpo was looking for when choosing a city to host a show of this magnitude.

Consumer attendance is essential to the show’s success, which meant we needed a city that could attract a large number of enthusiasts. Orlando sits within a four-hour loop that encompasses Miami, Tampa/Saint Petersburg, Daytona, and Jacksonville. Additionally, the October 16-20 timeframe aligns directly with Daytona’s Biketoberfest, putting a significant number of enthusiasts just an hour ride away from the AIMExpo.

All in all, we couldn’t be happier with the selection of Orlando and the Orange County Convention Center as the home for AIMExpo. Putting everyone in the industry in the right place, at the right time, with a welcoming climate and international draw, we are poised to create major excitement and energy in the motorcycle marketplace – and Orlando is a key component to help build that excitement!

For an overview of the convention center area click here.

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