Precision Cycle Works owner revs for retirement
After four decades in the motorsports industry, John Ferguson is preparing to ride off into the sunset.
Or at least into his garage.
The longtime owner of Precision Cycle Works Ltd. is planning to sell his Gasoline Alley business. He’s already spoken with a couple of prospective buyers and would like to close a deal by the end of this year or early in 2014.
When it happens, said Ferguson, he expects to focus on another business: restoring antique motorcycles in his garage.
“I would probably do a little bit more of that through the winter months to keep myself busy,” he said, adding that the demands of his retail business have prevented him from devoting a lot of time to his restoration sideline.
Ferguson’s decision to step away from Precision Cycle Works, which he started in 1982, has been a long time coming.
“At one time I had planned to try to retire around 55, but our economy has been so up and down the last five or six years,” said the 60-year-old.
With the energy and agricultural sectors enjoying renewed prosperity, he thinks now is a good time to pass the reins to a new operator.
“This is the best year that we’ve had in a number of years.”
Ferguson operated John’s Cycle and Sport in Sylvan Lake from 1972 to 1978.
“I was the first authorized Harley-Davidson dealership (in Central Alberta) in October of 1974.”
Precision Cycle Works later got its start as a repair and parts shop, eventually acquiring the local Kawasaki dealership.
It operated in Cronquist Business Park for nearly 20 years, before moving to a location on the south end of Taylor Drive and then to its current site on the east side of Hwy 2.
The business today sells motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and other motor products, and is authorized to service a broad range of brands.
Ferguson remembers a time when he sold motorcycles in the summer and snowmobiles in the winter.
The former included Indian brand motorcycles from Taiwan, Hodakas from Athena, Ore., and Ossas from Spain.
Most of the motorcycles being sold in his early years were street bikes, with dirt bikes becoming more common after motocross took off.
Reflecting on his years in the industry, Ferguson recalls a time when customers were more focused on the sensation and experience of riding.
“Now it’s more image-driven,” he said.
“You’ve got to get the right helmet, the right clothing.”
The list of accessories has grown considerably, he added.
“You name it, it’s out there for most motorcycles.”
As for demographics, Ferguson has witnessed more and more women jumping on bikes, especially in the last 10 to 15 years. He’s also noticed an increase in the number of older riders, including many who have returned to the sport that they enjoyed as youths.
“They rode in the ‘60s when the wave of Japanese motorcycles like Honda and Kawasaki came about,” said Ferguson.
“Then they had their families, they had their work and everything, and as they got into their 60s they started to retire, and now they’ve picked up motorcycling.”