Motovation engineering

Discussion in 'Hacks' started by jaydmc, Mar 6, 2020.

  1. jaydmc

    jaydmc Long timer

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    We had a few issues last year. First my shop foreman had quit to go to work with is dad doing construction. During that time we had two different foreman who talked a good talk and were very good at hiding their short cummings from us. In the case of one, it is really easy to make parts that you know are going to fit if you take the sample part out of the jig, clean it up and have it powder coated and pretend you made the part. This has caused us lots of problems in that we were short a few sample parts. As far as we can tell we have found all of the ones he did this on. Having over 300 jigs it is possible that we may have missed some as some jigs only get used every few years. The second person all he cared about is that the parts looked like they should in the photo's we provide with every build card. So, he often did not bother with the jigs. Fortunately, my old foreman Andrew working with his dad did not work out so well. He is now back and is our general manager. I had also retired last year once Andrew was back however that did not work out so well as I left my former office manager in charge and while I do not want to go in to it, after she had been with me for over 10 years she left me no choice but to fire here. So I am back running things in the office and Andrew back running the production end of things and quality is back where it should have always been. We have also added more CNC equipment so that fewer parts are hand made, this is helping with consistency of our products.
    Jay G
    DMC sidecars.
    866-638-1793
    www.dmcsidecars.com
    #61
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  2. bpw

    bpw Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the response Jay, it's nice to at least know what was going on and to here that you are back in charge. I understand well that small business aren't always perfect and have always thought it is how things are handled that matters most. I was actually rather worried you guys were going out of business when I heard you retired and no one seemed to be on top of the operation. Hopefully things get a bit smoother with you back at the helm, and depending how I decide to go forward you may see an order for a subframe from me as I did like the design of the one that didn't fit.
    #62
  3. Sidecarjohn

    Sidecarjohn SidecarJohn Supporter

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    DMC's issues highlight the problem in our world relating to the lack of skilled labour, an essential factor in specialised engineering situations.
    Here in the UK, once described as a workshop for the world, it is very apparent that somewhere along the line we lost our soul, or maybe some folk sold it.
    #63
  4. ZigzagguzzI

    ZigzagguzzI Been here awhile Supporter

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    Yes, well said.
    #64
  5. BruceinLA

    BruceinLA n00b

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    I have been a member here for a while, always a good read about different aspects of the motorcycle industry, and help for my BMW when I need it.

    I worked for Motorvation before Jim Sontag bought it in 1979, (the first owner, Tom Pederson, sold out to become a full time Scientologist in Florida) then I worked with Jim for another year or so while finishing my automotive degree at pierce college.

    I built the first "Roadster Royale" and mounted it on a Harley lowrider back in 79 or 80, a perfect match, that was the only sidecar rig I really enjoyed riding. My co-worker Willy Clark had a Spyder mounted to a Honda 750 that saw track time at AFM club road races when there were not enough hack rigs to make up a racing class. The suspension of the Spyder was an amazing collection of chrome rods and heim joints that gave it the ability to turn left a bit when compressed, but the early rigs also had fiberglass gas tanks that were prone to leakage.

    In the late 80's I looked Jim up again and stopped by his house in Montrose for some catching up, He had vacated the Reseda shop I worked at by then but was hard at work keeping Motorvation alive.
    I only met Mary once or twice, Jim always spoke highly of her and strived to make her life better. Moving to Iowa away from the regulation and expense of California was just the kind of forward thinking Jim had that kept Motorvation alive for so long after the first owner gave up. It's sad to read about the demise, 40 years is a good run and I hope it continues.
    #65
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  6. GearHeadGrrrl

    GearHeadGrrrl Long timer

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    Thanks Bruce, a Coupe Royale showed up on Craigslist in Sioux City a couple years back. I asked Gary Greene at Motorvation (he's still there) and he said it was made before Motorvation took over the Royale production. Perhaps one you built?
    #66
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  7. BruceinLA

    BruceinLA n00b

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    I only worked at Motorvation Engineering. the Coupe Royale and the Sport Royale were first built by Ed Millray in Colton, Ca. Motorvation got the molds from him in 1976 or so. The external frame models were Millray, internal frame = Motorvation. I built the first Roadster Royale at Motorvation under Jim Sontags' ownership with an internal frame.

    The Spyder sidecar was first built by Jerry Simon, then Motorvation. I don't know what was different having never seen a Simon built Spyder T-1.
    #67
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  8. GearHeadGrrrl

    GearHeadGrrrl Long timer

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    OK Dave, dog's had a long sleep so time for an update. Had to update my PACER account so I could access the bankruptcy court filings and they popped up the other day. This is owner Mary Sontag's personal bankruptcy, looks like they never established Motorvation as an LLC which is unfortunate. Assets listed are the building, Mary's house and old car which are exempted, another house which I think Mary's son lives in, Mary's Sportster and sidecar, machine shop equipment, miscellaneous wheels, a couple completed sidecars, an old Econoline box truck, three sidecar molds (I think there's a 4th somewhere plus the trailer molds), and miscellaneous office equipment. A horde of parts, jigs, etc. weren't listed in the inventory and I hope they don't land in a dumpster. Liabilities include what looks like deposits made by about 50 buyers, several months pay owed to tech Gary and another employee, unpaid property and income taxes, utility bills, credit card debts, and unpaid bills from several suppliers and subbies.

    This is a Chapter 7 auction so if the court approves it will be a total liquidation, probably by auction. The most valuable asset is probably the building, it's assessed at around $60k which is cheap for it's size, but there's a lot of empty buildings in town. Otherwise in the current financial environment it will probably go cheap. I'm going to follow the sale and might put in a bid if the price is right, just to secure a future supply of parts to keep our Motorvation sidecars rolling.
    #68
  9. davebig

    davebig Another Angry Hun !

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    Damn that's a nice building for 60k of course there's not much going on there, welcome to small town Merica, way nicer than Claude's cave sorry Claude you turn out pretty use able equipment with a minimalist shop.:-)
    #69
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  10. TripleDaddy

    TripleDaddy Hoping my skills exceed my horsepower

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    Any viability to have someone buy the building and lease it back to the business to free up some cash?
    #70
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  11. GearHeadGrrrl

    GearHeadGrrrl Long timer

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    Probably could find an investor to do that.
    #71
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  12. JustKip

    JustKip Long timer

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    They don't have any cash at all. Just a building, some tools, a ton of debt, and unpaid employees and property taxes. If the building is listed as an asset, she might not be paying anything at all for the use of it, and hasn't been paying taxes. A lease would be an added expense, to a business that already had a fatal cash flow problem.
    #72
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  13. bpw

    bpw Been here awhile

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    Yep, and 60k ain't much cash for any business big enough to have employees.

    It sucks we are losing a sidecar builder, but sounds like they are too far gone to be saveable. Best outcome is someone buys the molds and jigs on the cheap and can start fresh without dept to make a go at it.
    #73
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  14. DRONE

    DRONE Dog Chauffeur

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    Anybody here looking for a new career?

    Might find some old duffers from here to back your play as long as you yourself are a young duffer. 'Cause yer gonna need some energy to go along with all that optimism.
    #74
  15. GearHeadGrrrl

    GearHeadGrrrl Long timer

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    To us the parts and tooling are the most valuable asset, but to the average auction bidder that's just a pile of scrap and a bargain price on a usable building is what draws them. Depends to on how they do the sale- sometimes they sell it all in a package, sometimes they break it up into lots, sometimes they do both and see which brings the higher price.
    #75
  16. SavageSavant

    SavageSavant Wabanubu

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    Any other inmates interested in pooling resources to try to get the molds, jigs, and parts inventory? My priorities would be to keep them from going to the scrapyard, form an online group to provide parts and support to existing owners, hopefully reproduce some replacement parts for existing owners (I do fiberglass work), eventually sell it all to someone who is in a position to reopen the company.

    Alternately, any other manufacturers interested in acquiring the molds, jigs and parts to take over production?
    #76
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  17. GearHeadGrrrl

    GearHeadGrrrl Long timer

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    Sounds like a good idea, especially if no one comes forward to buy the company and resume parts availability. A possible strategy would be to persuade the court that the tooling and parts have limited sale value and thus should be put in a trust to insure future parts availability. There is some precedent- In the GM and Chrysler bankruptcies the courts set aside some historic vehicles and assured that they went to museums instead of the auction block.
    #77
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  18. bpw

    bpw Been here awhile

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    GM and Chrysler weren’t in chapter 7 and never went to auction. Completely different kind of bankruptcy. Very unlikely the creditors (which includes unpaid employees) would agree to leave any value out of the auction.

    Best chance is someone thinks there is a viable business to be made with what’s left of motivation or some enthusiast picks everything up for almost nothing and runs it as a hobby business to keep some parts supply around.

    It’s also very likely most of the tooling, jigs etc actually is scrap. Companies don’t tend to maintain stuff very well when they are going bankrupt. I suspect there is not a whole lot of value even for someone who thinks they want to build sidecars for a living.

    But, the market will decide when it goes to auction, some good deals may be had.
    #78
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  19. Stroker

    Stroker motorcycle traveler Supporter

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    Shit! I’m a little late to the party! Good thing I had a nice bottle of Mescal to get me through the “Corona Virus” reference. Good reading...better late than never. Dont forget to wash your hands! Cheers...
    #79
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  20. GR8ADV

    GR8ADV Safety Second!

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    A Mescal brother. Hey I have a unique small (250 ml) bottle of ‘infused’ mescal I smuggled back from Mexico. Can I use this as a down payment on some wheels. ✌️
    #80
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