By Jennifer Kotila
DASSEL, COKATO, MN When Patrick Kelly first purchased the building that houses Badboyscustom Cycles in Dassel, it was supposed to be used to store and work on race cars amongst a group of friends, he said.
In the meantime, he and his wife, Natasha, had been looking for a motorcycle that was big enough for her to drive on the road, but the bikes were all too big for her to handle.
Kelly explained that to comfortably ride at highway speeds, or on a freeway, without the wind blowing the bike around, it needs to weigh at least 600 pounds and have a 100-horsepower engine.
A bike that size is often too large for a woman to control, Kelly said.
They thought a trike, which is a three-wheeled motorcycle, would work well, but there were no good manufacturers or dealers in the area they could purchase one from, Kelly said.
So, the couple started a hobby building trikes.
“We bought the building for race cars, but before everything was ready, the trike business had already developed a life of its own,” Kelly said.
That was in 2004, and the business has continued to expand, eventually needing more space.
Kelly purchased the former Midwest Machinery building east of Cokato, just off of Highway 12, in February of 2008, to create a larger space for Badboyscustom.
He had all the financing in order with a local bank to finance remodeling the building and the construction of several storage sheds, Kelly said.
Then, the economy fell apart, and the banks, having serious trouble because of real estate loans, pulled Kelly’s financing.
Kelly found another local bank to finance the project, but that bank also had to withdraw the funding when it became troubled, he said.
“Without the ability to finish the building, I was stuck with a $2 million investment with land and equipment I could not use,” Kelly said.
He estimates he has been losing $18,000 per month because he could not get financing for his new investment.
Admittedly, the bike business was not doing so well at that time, either.
“It was devastated in 2008 and ‘09, but got a little better in 2010,” Kelly said.
Kelly has persevered. Badboyscustom was only a hobby business, and he also manages investments at his own branch office for Raymond James, which is an investment management firm, he said.
“If I did not have that income, I would have had to shut down,” he said.
Finally, after three years, the building has been fully remodeled and Badboyscustom is in the process of moving into its new location.
The move will be taking place over the next couple of weeks. Business has also really picked up this year.
“This year is starting off to be the best year ever. Sales so far this year have beaten every year we’ve been in business,” Kelly said.
For this success, he credits a combination of under-served demand for trikes and custom bikes, as well as the fact that several other local custom bike shops closed when the economy went bad.
Badboyscustom has shipped bikes and trikes to 19 states, and three countries; Canada, Russia, and Norway, Kelly said.
Along with the cycle business, Kelly is building RV storage condos on the site. The construction on the first building has taken place over the last two weeks.
As the need arises, Kelly plans to add additional storage buildings. He expects the business next door, Stockholm Kart Racing, will help attract business for his storage units, he said.
Along with the bike shop and storage units, Kelly will operate a rental business for lawn care, Bobcats, posthole diggers, and other industrial equipment.
Badboyscustom also has an active program renting motor homes, trailers, and custom motorcycles.
Although Kelly and his wife are from Plymouth, all his employees are people who live in the area.
“I love this neighborhood,” Kelly said of the Dassel and Cokato area. “I don’t want to go anywhere else.”