CEDAR RAPIDS — In its third summertime riding season, B.J. Bloomhall thinks Black Stock Motorcycle has found its niche.
“We’re just starting to cut our teeth, getting our name out there,” Bloomhall said. “We’ve just started to hear from some of our competitors that we’re starting to skim some off of their cream.”
Bloomhall, 25, is chief operating officer of Black Stock, the repair, parts and custom shop he and his father, Bill Bloomhall III, kick-started in late 2015. The father and son identified a market vacated by J&P Cycles, the Anamosa parts house that moved most of its operations to Kansas and Texas in 2015.
“We sort of saw a hole in the market here in Iowa, with them moving their headquarters,” Bloomhall said. “That was the part we wanted to go after, the parts side of it.
“But it’s kind of evolved. We do everything another dealership can do. We sell used motorcycles, we build (custom cycles) all winter long. That’s how we keep our guys employed.”
Black Stock also sells accessories and clothing. But repair and maintenance is what keeps most of the shop’s 12 employees busy.
“Our bread and butter is our service, and that’s just taken off, mostly just because we’ve got the most affordable labor rate in Eastern Iowa,” said Bloomhall. “That’s what gets us through. It’s really interesting to see all the local people bringing their bikes in to us, but also these guys who are traveling cross-country.
“They kind of like to find the mom-and-pop shops.”
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Harley-Davidson, and the various brands spun off from the historic Milwaukee-based manufacturer, is Black Stock’s foundation.
“Harley and Harley-like or Harley-compatible is what we do,” said Bloomhall. “We’d love to get into the (foreign brands) side, it’s just finding the personnel that are reliable, that we can trust who can do that.”
Bloomhall and his wife, Courtney, returned to Cedar Rapids after a few years running a restaurant in Washington state.
“She ran the front of the house, I ran the rear of the house,” he said. “That’s where we got some of our managerial skills. We did everything from payroll to books down to individual ordering, serving.”
Looking for a job, Bloomhall talked to his father.
“He said, ‘I’ve got too many motorcycles and nobody to work on them. Let’s get our hands dirty,’ and that’s how the place started,” he said. “Dad’s always had a passion for (cycles), and we just picked it up. We hired the right employees and they brought on the experience.”
Black Stock’s shop was built in 1923 for the Cedar Rapids Auto Supply Co. The 25,000-square-foot building is part of the historic Automobile Row Historic District, home to many of the city’s early dealerships and shops.
“We just fell in love with this place,” Bloomhall said. “It just kind of fit this old, customizable, raw space. It was really cool to see it converted back to the automotive industry it was intended to be originally.”
Customers can order most of Black Stock’s inventory online, although that’s “not a lot” of the business so far. But Bloomhall said the two-year-old business is just getting started.
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“We’ve got a long way to go,” he said. “We’d like to expand off (service) and get into motorcycle parts and manufacturing here. Small quantities but just something of our own we’d put our name on.”
AT A GLANCE
l Owner and chief operating officer: B.J. Bloomhall
l Business: Black Stock Motorcycle Co.
l Address: 611 Second Ave SE, Cedar Rapids
l Phone: (319) 365-0608
l Website: ww.blackstockmotorcyclecompany.com
l Know a business in operation for more than a year that would make a nifty “My Biz”? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.