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Sturgis Rally Daily Excelsior-Henderson... August 8, 16

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Dan Hanlon Owner / Founder

Dave Hanlon Owner / Founder

John LaVoie VP Marketing / Sales

Christie General office Manager

Julie Office Staff

Butch Donahue Motorcycle Dealer / Historian

Various motorcycle owners, particularly Harley Davidson owners.


When I first received this project, there were a number of businesses that caught my interest that I wanted to look at. These companies are as follows

Excelsior-Henderson Motorcycle Company.

St. Paul Capital City Partnership

Lake Superior Ostrich Place ( Yes, ostrich as in the funny looking bird)

Spring Green Lawn Care

Great Clips For Hair

I have followed Excelsior-Henderson for the past year through the local press. They are a new company bringing back an old company. They are bringing back the Excelsior brand motorcycle. It was made in the late 1800s through about 10.

The Capital City Partnership is headed up by John Labosky. He is credited with positioning downtown Minneapolis against the mall of America. John was the brains behind the Hollidazzle parade on Nicollet Mall to draw people away from the Bloomington monster mall. John was tapped to start the CCP, which is a new entity created specifically to revive downtown St. Paul. It was a government start-up business, but I thought it would be unique and interesting, due to my interests in this area.

Lake Superior Ostrich Place was started by a good friend of our family. It is located in Solon Springs, Wisconsin. As the name implies, it is an ostrich farm. Apparently ostrich farming is getting to be a very big business areound the world and its meat is supposed to be the meat of the future, due to its


great taste and health benefits. This was definitely the most unique business on my list!

Spring Green lawn Care is a franchised lawn fertilizing company. I have known the owner for quite a few years now. he started this business around the time I started mine and we have worked together since. I have learned a great deal about franchises through my interaction with him over the years.

Great Clips was the last one on my list and probably the one I wanted to do most. In Cottage Grove, the town next to where I live, there are two Great clips and are owned by the same lady. She is a Cottage Grove citizen and has done very well with her new stores. I tried to get into a Great Clips franchise, but they only had areas in the South and West open. That ruined that idea!

Well, the company I chose is Excelsior-Henderson Motorcycle Company. It was a tough decision, but I have been very intrigued and interested in what they were doing and the sheer magnitude of the undertaking. I have spent two months compiling information through interviews, news articles and whatever else I could find. It turned out to be a very interesting project to do and I am reporting on history being made at the same time. Carol, I hope you enjoy the story of the brand-new old Excelsior-Henderson!!!!


When you think of the great American motorcycle, what name and picture comes into your mind? Most people will say Harley Davidson without a second breath. Some will picture Steve McQueen in the movie Easy Rider as an outlaw biker / rebel. Or they will think of the consummate 150s rebel, James Dean and Rebel Without a Cause. Definitely a more romantic and historical view of the Harley Davidson. But, for the most part, people seem to associate it with the outlaw bikers of the 170s.

Yes, people envision the HOG. A loud, obnoxious outlaw bike with a pot-bellied, greasy, leather-clad, Hells Angel riding it. The bikes are stereotyped as loud in sound and lots of chrome with ape-hanger handlebars way above the drivers head and a chopped front end with long front forks protruding out. This bike is affectionately known as a chopper.

What people are starting to realize is this is not what Harley Davidons are. Today, there are white collar executives and baby boomers throwing a leg over this once nasty, dirty stereotyped motorcycle. These people riding them now hang up the Brooks Brothers suit and put away the wing-tips Friday night and transform themselves into weekend road warriors, complete with jack-boots and a black leather jacket. They are not out causing mayhem on the streets of their affluent suburbs, but cruising the road working off the stress from their executive positions they work at Monday through Friday.

The Harley Davidson of today are chique and statement of success. They are freedom from the office and a great way to work off stress and express yourself. These bikes are a part of the family, just as much as the

family dog or cat. Often when family pictures are taken, the bike will be included. They are very popular on the family Christmas card! Yes, the mystique of a rebel, but the undeniable life of a baby boomer!

Up until now there has only been one choice in American motorcycles for todays cowboy, the Harley Davidson that we have just visited. As I mentioned Harley Davidson is the only American motorcycle made today, the last time it had competition was before Excelsior-Henderson was closed during the great depression.

Fact Between 186 and 15 there were over 00 motorcycle

companies in the United States. Included in this group were

three companies making and selling motorcycles here in the Twin

Cities. There was the Minneapolis, Wagner and the Cyclone.

Even with all these companies, only three dominated the market,

Harley Davidson, Indian and Excelsior motor manufacturing.

Excelsior was established in 1876 at a bicycle factory in Chicago. In 111, Ignaz Schwinn, founder of the Schwinn bicycle Company, bought Excelsior. The Excelsior was the first bike to go over 100 miles per hour, the first to circle the globe and set many more records. It was considered the worlds finest motorcycle by pundits throughout the world.

In 117, Schwinn purchased the Henderson Motorcycle Company and the Excelsior-Henderson was born. The bike was completely redesigned with a teardrop fuel tank, low-slung seat, full-valanced fenders and balloon tires. Harley-Davidson later adopted and standardized these features a few years later on their bikes and they still are true to this form today!

On March 1, 11, Schwinn abruptly shut down the Excelsior-Henderson company. Now, over 60 years later, the Excelsior-Henderson is being re-born by a couple of self-proclaimed motorcycle fanatics, and brothers, from Belle Plaine, MN. These fanatics are Dan and Dave Hanlon. Realizing that there is room for another great American cruiser in the world-wide marketplace, Dan and Dave Hanlon from Belle Plaine, MN are reviving the greatest motorcycle of them all, the Excelsior-Henderson. Dan and Dave grew up on a family farm in Belle Plaine and are positioning themselves to challenge the heavyweight champion of cruisers, Harley Davidson.

Dave is the older brother at 4 years old. Dave entered our beloved University of Saint Thomas in the mid 70s and took his farm boy roots and Harley Davidson chopper along.( You remember the chopper, I described it on page one.) he would drive this loud, obnoxious motorcycle up on the sidewalk and chain it to the bike rack! Needless to say, he drew quite a bit of attention. Dan, 8, followed in his footsteps. I was reluctantly dragged into higher education at U.S.T., Dan said. They both received their business degrees and became Brooks Brothers suited, wing-tip wearing, white collar professionals. Dave said his favorite memory of Saint Thomas is seeing it in his mirror as he left campus on his chopper.

Dave ended up building a career in the truck leasing business and Dan went on to get a Masters Degree in International Business. Dan worked at Honeywell in strategic planning and also helped invent an environmental packaging material and started a successful business around this


invention. The name of the business is Evergreen Solutions. neither admit to having any goals of starting a motorcycle business, but Dan confided that he always wanted to be in manufacturing as an owner.

So how did two farm boys come up with the idea to start a motorcycle company? It was literally while riding our Harleys that we decided, said Dave. They were at the Sturgis motorcycle rally in 1 having few beers and talking motorcycles. They agreed there was a legitimate need and room for another great American cruiser.

That summer, they dug through collections of old motorcycle magazines and burrowed through the public library. Hoping to cash in on the current heavyweight cruiser market boom, they set their sights on finding a classic, high-quality, performance cruiser that needed a jumpstart back into existence.

They ended up with a list of 00 motorcycle companies to look at from a business perspective and then whittled that down to 50. Out of that 50, 5 were looked at critically. As part of their intense and critical research, they interviewed many industry people, but were extremely careful to keep their intentions under wraps!

The bike they were searching for had to be capable of turning the head of a blue-blood, die-hard Harley hugger. It would have to be one hell of a bike to accomplish this. After all, Harley riders are a fiercely dedicated bunch!


When we found Excelsior-Henderson, we quit looking, said Dave. They felt that Excelsior-Henderson was the best name in American motorcycle history, PERIOD!, said Dave.

We had a good understanding of the industry from the consumer perspective and a wonderful sense of chemistry of the consumers, their desires and what our final product needs to feel like, look like and price at, Dave said.

One of the first tasks was to find and acquire the necessary trademarks and copyrights to start the company. It has been a long, arduous complex enigma to piece everything together, they said. By the time they started their search, the rights had been spread throughout the world. It has taken from day one until today to find and acquire them all,said Dan.

Were there any problems in acquiring them? Several people had tried -and failed- to use the trademarked name on t-shirts and other things. After a few legal battles, we now have the mane in solid control. Some of the rights holders thought about reviving the name, but did not know how to preserve it or track it through tightly enough, Dan said.

In 1, Dan sold his environmental business and jumped into building Excelsior-Henderson full-time. A year later Dave also joined in full-time. They did not have a plan at first, just instinct an idea and a basement office. (That sounds like a true entrepreneur to me). Dan and Dave both put their Harleys in hock to the local bank to get some start-up money. Dan explained that a biker will make a payment on his bike before he makes a payment on his house. I wonder if their wives knew this?


They did not draw salaries for almost two years after going full-time. They relied upon family and friends for the capital they needed to keep things forging ahead.

I was interested to know how they felt about doing business with family members on an extremely risky start-up venture like this. The family members approached them about investing. Dan and Dave really did not ever bring finances up around them. Before any money exchanged hands, ground-rules were set. It was fully explained that there was a very likely chance they would never see this money again, due to the risk of their venture. Secondly, everyone was aware that if they did loose some or all of their money, Dan and Dave would not be held a grudge upon and they would be able to spend holidays and family gatherings together and be the same close family they had always been. With the air cleared in this matter, Dan and Dave accepted the funds and treated it like any other business transaction with contracts and such. Out of eight siblings, seven are invested in the business.

Speaking of family involved in business, I inquired on how well Dan and Dave work together. It was easier since they worked the family farm with each other and their siblings while growing up, they said. Growing up on a family farm, you work very closely with your parents and brothers and sisters. You learn to fight and yell at each other. All the brothers would do that and then be laughing and going off and having fun two seconds later, Dan said.


Although they do not always agree on the vision for the motorcycle, they maintain a very professional relationship in the office. ( Except for the casual dress culture. They strictly dress in Excelsior-Henderson apparel). Your egos are checked at the door and no one gets their ego bruised too easily. We all have pretty thick skin, Dan said.

Growing up in a family business, I know that when we all gather, conversation always turns towards work. Does this happen with Dan and Dave, I asked? Of course as farmers they grew up working together and talking family business. As a matter of fact Dan said, often times the family gatherings give Dave and I our best quality time together to really talk about things without being interrupted.

So now that Dan and Dave had a good grip on their legal papers, had a solid idea of the bike they wanted to build and a little funding, what was next? Working from the basement, they put together a handwritten business plan. Dan had experience in drawing up business plans and forecasts through working in strategic analysis at Honeywell and starting his business. Dave had experience through intrapreneurship at the truck leasing firm. He started a business unit for the corporation and grew it from five employees to sixty. So they were both experienced in setting up business plans and working the plan.( Plan your work and work your plan I was always told.) By the time they finished their plan, it was a hefty eighty pages!


Dan explained to me that a project of this magnitude needed to be that long because it encompassed so much information and investors would require that much information. Dans environmental business had a plan not even half of the Excelsior-Hendersons. he emphasized to me that there is no right or wrong length, it is completely arbitrary to the situation. he said a small, simple business may only a need a few pages, but Honeywell may need a few hundred.

Carol, you had said so many times that the first thing you do when consulting a business is look for wear and tear on the business plan, if they have one. Well, I asked Dan if their plan collects dust. He said they do not look at it on a daily basis, but they utilize it during meetings and for benchmarking their progress. They end up using it a couple times per week usually.

This brought me to contingency planning. With a monster start-up like this and no other recent motorcycle company start-up to look at, there must be quite a bit a refinement and adjustment. Dan agreed, contingency is part of any business. Your estimates will not always be right on, so you need to go back into the plan and adjust accordingly. They emphasize the importance of developing a plan, using it and realizing that adjustments (contingency) are completely normal and will need to be made.

So now they have a solid business plan in place and are ready to go out and find the life-blood of the new company, investors. If they can convince anyone that they have a viable plan and can seriously pull this plan together and make it a profitable business, they will take that money and build some prototypes.

It is not everyday that somebody goes into business to start manufacturing motorcycles, so it will be a tough road ahead to convince people it can, and more importantly, will work.

Rather than spend all the money on the bike, show the world and tell them to wait five years, they are getting the company structure in place now and getting financing lined up to support the structure.

We have learned through our reading that investors do not invest in a company, but in the people running it. Furthermore, they look to see how much money the proprietors have invested into their own business. I asked the Hanlons if this was true in their case. Dan got a big smile on his face and told me he was very impressed that I had this knowledge. He said that many investors turned away because the brothers could not put up substantial amounts of their own money. These people were wanting Dave and I to put in $00,000 each, or more. We just dont have that kind of money, Dan said. There were many investors that walked away due to this funding issue. However, we knew there were investors out there who were more interested in what we were doing than how much we had invested, Dan and Dave said. Well, they were absolutely correct with that assumption.

The Hanlons wanted to concentrate on accredited investors. I asked about bankers and venture capital firms as a part of this group. They told me that banks will not come near a start-up like theirs or any other start-up without assets to back up the loan. Venture capitalists have never been involved in a motorcycle start-up, so they really did not have anything to offer to the company. It was much too different for them.


The accredited investors they targeted must have a net worth of over $1 million or have an annual household income of over $150,000. As of today, the company has approximately 750 accredited investors who have pumped in around $5 million. They recently completed a $11.5 million private placement and plan on going public in the summer of 17.

(I will be an investor when they go public, no doubt about it!)

Why did they go after accredited investors only? Jay Novak, the MN Department of Trade and Economic Security Commissioner, explained it as such a high-risk venture that it was just a precaution taken on the part of the company because of the extreme risk.

They almost lost the company through this private placement. Dan said that they were supposed to issue this placement in June and that there are only a couple windows of opportunity during the year for this kind of financing to be successful. Right before the placement was about to be offered, the Minneapolis Start Tribune had an article on it in the Business section. This could have been legally seen as advertising the placement, so they had to pull it off the market. If they did not do this, there could have been serious legal ramifications for the company and they could have been shut down and that would be the end of their business. Fortunately, they were able to bridge the funding over the summer and were able to do a successful, legal offering September 17, 16.


Dan and Dave own 45% of the company. A mutual fund, from Wisconsin, is the second largest stockholder. a certain square-jawed late night talk show host is also rumored to be a large investor. Jay Leno owns one of the finest un-restored Excelsior-Hendersons in existence. I asked how they came about a figure for knowing how much investors equity would be worth. Dan would not give me any figures of course, but he said he figured out what the worth of the company would be in 4 years and worked backwards from that figure. Dan said his Finance degree is paying off, but he still does not care for finance at all. I guess it is a necessary evil!

Now that they have some money to work with it was time to build a management team. No Board of Directors right now.

Dan Hanlon Legal, fundraising, finance, trademark issues, administrative

Dave Hanlon Marketing, sales, product development

Alan Benz V.P. Engineering

Allan Hurd V.P. Manufacturing

John LaVoie V.P. Marketing

Tom Rootness V.P. Finance and Chief Financial Officer

The team is brand new, they have been there very long. Some took pay cuts and will make up for this in stock options. Some are avid motorcycle riders and others are not, so they have a great mix. I have been told that this team has incredibly impressive credentials that could fill a book by themselves!

Another key part of the team is the Minneapolis marketing agency they hired. Ron Sackett, Creative Director of Case Foley Sacket.


Ron headed the advertising and marketing campaign that industry insiders credit with rejuvenating Harley Davidson a decade ago!

What is so special about the new Excelsior-Henderson Super X heavyweight cruiser? It will have the most advanced motorcycle engine on the market today. It will also have a distinctive beat or exhaust note that is distinctive to the American cruiser. Harley Davidson is actually trying to patent their exhaust note!

The Super X is a statement motorcycle designed for style and looks. It is the calmed down Easy Rider bike that fits a lot of purposes. Chief among them is a weekend toy for baby-boomers, boast the proud and excited Hanlon brothers.

The Super X is a bike that looks mean just standing still. It is a reflection of the attitude the customer wants for the weekend. They wont shave, they will hang up the designer suit, throw on a leather jacket and motorcycle boots and be a new person for a couple of days.

The Super X will stand alone and reek of quality. It will be enhanced

by such details as chrome, flashy paint jobs, handgrips engraved with the Excelsior-Henderson logo, and buyers will be able to personalize their bikes with engraved metal plates. You will feel like you have a hand-crafted quality motorcycle, just like the Excelsior-Hendersons of old. Our Goal is to park the new Super X next to the old one and you will see grandpa and grandson, The Hanlons said. WOW!!!!!

With financing and prototypes firmly in place, they needed a factory to build this historic new motorcycle. Rather than announcing that they


would build in one certain area, they hired a relocation firm and put together a list a strict guidelines that must be met for a city to be considered. They then sent this packet to towns throughout the Midwest and let them bid on the new factory.

It was both emotional and analytic, the Hanlons proclaimed. On the analytic side, there were transportation issues, supplier details, skilled labor force needs, state and local taxes, state and local incentives. On the emotional side, this site was going to be Dan and Daves new home. Employees would also be moving here to raise their families and send them to the local school. Deep roots would be established real fast and the community had to be just right to incorporate this mix. Coming from a small town, community and family are extremely important to Dan

and Dave Hanlon.

There were 10 states in the running. In the end they opted for their own back yard of Belle Plaine. Dan and Dave could believe the lengths that communities would go to entice them. School kids writing letters, marching bands entertaining them, hand-painted signs welcoming them, lemonade and apple pie receptions, tours of seasoned citizen homes. Dan confided that the decision was tougher than he ever imagined. After every town made their pitch, I jumped back in the van and thought that this was the ideal place. Belle Plaine and the State of MN came together with the right deal and they decided on it. They said there was a myriad of reasons for choosing this town, but keep in mind how important family is to them and how important the community is. I think they always


wanted to go home to Belle Plaine, they just needed to create some competition to get the right deal and make sure Belle Plaine was right.

Who is going to buy these new fancy motorcycles made in Belle Plaine? I could have written a book on the information I received from John LaVoie. I had my ear talked off!!

Excelsior-Henderson is an old company known for quality and was renowned for it. So they are not marketing a new company, but a historic, new old company. They will be selling novelty/ mystique/ recreation/ romance/ intrigue/ history. Some of the old owners were Henry Ford, Charles Lindberg and Steve McQueen. Henry Ford actually has his on display is his museum!

They will sell this image through the story of the American dream. Two farm-boy brothers team up to bring back part of motorcycle history through their own business. Everyone wants to be a part of history. It is simply a great story to sell.

The Super X will be one of finest built, most stylish and meanest cruisers on the road today, John LaVoie. No matter how much you talk up your product, if you dont make good on your promises, you are sunk! You only get one chance to make a first impression. The buyer will have great expectations and you better meet them!!!! Exactly.

These buyers will be buying a lifestyle, like I explained in the beginning.

they live through the image of their bikes and have deep feelings of attachment to them. Buyers will primarily be between the ages of 40-70 with disposable income and making over $65,000 per year.


It is a limited, but dedicated market and the timing is right, says Butch Donahue, owner of Delano Sports Center.

The Super X will run around $18,000. Harleys are about $16,000. Harley Davidson also has a year waiting list for new bikes. So far, Excelsior-Henderson has a waiting list of around ,000, and the first bike wont roll off the assembly line until mid 18! Harleys are becoming a commodity and Excelsior-Henderson will never let that happen to their beloved bikes. They manufacture 10-15% less than demand to keep it this way. They will make 4,000 bikes the first year and 0,000 in the fifth year, at full production. They will capture about 5% of the heavyweight cruiser market which will make them a $50 million company. Net profit is about 5% for motorcycle manufacturers. Dan said they will break even in around two years, but would not say how many bikes it will take.

S.W.O.T. Analysis

Strength We dont know we cant do this, said the Hanlons. That

combined with their mission, focus, tenacity and vision.

Weakness Finding the best people. People are our greatest asset,Dan.

Opportunity Bringing a great company back to life. Combining old / new.

Threat Competition. Bikers are fiercely loyal to their chosen brand!

The bikes will be sold through a dedicated network of dealers throughout the country and Europe. Dealers will extensively screened and will need to meet many qualifications to be considered. Dan Hanlon compared buying an Excelsior-Henderson to buying a suit. You can either go to Sears and buy one off the rack without much help, or you can go to the


Mens Wearhouse and be walked through the entire process with a focus on customer service. Also, after the sale, Mens Wearhouse offers you continuing support if you need it. They offer free pressing and alterations while you own your suit. Buying an Excelsior-Henderson will be like buying from Mens Wearhouse. They will focus on customer service / details and offer continuing customer service long after the sale. The bikes will not be sold in supercenters, but in dealerships that carry just a couple of brands. These dealers will have proven to be very professional and outstanding in their field. The support offered to the dealers from Excelsior-Henderson will be a cornerstone of the companys success. Dealers will receive extensive technical support, small business training and will be taught how to market better and more efficiently. Dealers do not get anywhere near this kind of support from any other manufacturer. They are basically left on their own. There will be about 50 dealers across the country and no two dealers will be within 150 miles of each other. This will eliminate price cutting and loss of profits to dealers. It is very important that dealers maximize their profits on this brand. This will keep them wanting to focus on this brand. They will be able to sell more through less, said LaVoie.

Well what about my strategic analysis? This company has covered all their bases and is first class all the way. This venture is extremely risky. There has not been an American made motorcycle, besides Harley Davidson, since the great depression. All of a sudden two farm boys are reviving one of the greatest motorcycle companies ever? It takes almost a


megalomaniac to envision such a task and a person with an iron stomach to even start the process of developing a company on a scale like this.

These boys know exactly what they are getting into. Through their corporate experience, entrepreneurial ventures and fine schooling, they know what needs to be done and what the road ahead is like. They have had 0 years to hone their skills, make the contacts and develop some wisdom that will help make them a success. If Dan and Dave would have approached this ten years ago, they could never have pulled it off because off because of their inexperience and age. People would not have taken them seriously and they would not know everything that needs to take place in a venture like this.

With the help of some of the finest minds in their fields, they have compiled a very strong team that will lift the company into the next stage, manufacturing, marketing and sales.

Every decision has been deliberate and methodical. They plan their work thoroughly and work their plan. they never loose sight of the vision and goal they have. Focused like a laser with tenacity, vision and experience!

They played their cards right and received the factory financing they needed from the state and the community. All told, they have over $0 million in grants and loans to get the factory into production.

One of the best things they have done is delegate responsibility early on. They hire the best and brightest they can find and let them do what they do best. They give them the roots of responsibility and the wings of freedom. Too many people are a one man army. this just could not work with the intense complexity of this venture.


Before going too far, they traveled around the world and talked with motorcycle executives and manufacturers of every brand that would talk to them. Dan and Dave said most of them thought they were nuts, but offered them good luck anyway.

Dan and Dave Hanlon have covered their bases extremely well and have not had any surprised in their venture, beside for how emotional it was to pick a city for their factory and headquarters. They are well on their way to making history and bring 500 manufacturing jobs and many spin-off businesses to Belle Plaine, MN. Like they said, the biggest thing they have going for them is that they do not know they cant do it. Every day they prove this to be more and more true!

What does the future hold?

They plan on making a light-weight cruiser and a touring bike once the factory is running. Their bikes will always be a novelty, guaranteed. The biggest challenge that the foresee for the future is building a company that lives up to the old Excelsior-Henderson reputation, The Hanlon Brothers. Judging from their progress thus far, that will be no problem at all! Yes, they would do it all over again!


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