"We all ride. We are all passionate about bikes and about the lifestyle that comes with it."
Dane Fox, Owner
Fox Cycle Works was founded in 2009 by current owner, Dane Fox, and his uncle Dan Fox. The Fox name has been well-known in Bellevue, Ohio. But now Dane Fox, his father Keith Fox, and his uncle Dan, are making the Fox name familiar outside of Bellevue as well - in the world of motorcycles with Fox Cycle Works, in Sandusky, Ohio, which celebrates five years in business this June.
The Fox family have had motorcycles in their blood for years.
“I grew up around motorcycles,” Dane said. “We always had them. Motorcycles, dirt bikes, cars, if we could make it go faster, we would.”
For many years, Dan Fox worked as the service manager for Roeders Harley Davidson, which was located at the current site of Mad River Harley Davidson in Sandusky, Ohio. But in 2009, when Roeders announced it was closing - Dan was about to be out of a job.
Dane was living in Minnesota at the time, working for a small start up company called Partner Up, a social network for small businesses focused on helping them succeed, when it was acquired by a large multi-billion dollar company.
“I wasn’t happy with what I was doing, and I wanted to start my own business,” he said.
Dane and Dan began discussing partnering in a business together. Dan’s years of experience in the motorcycle industry and Dane’s business background - he has a degree in business from Bowling Green State University - a bike shop seemed to make perfect sense.
“I thought this was a fun industry to be in,” Dane said. “It was something I was passionate about and a good avenue to make a living and do something I enjoy doing - and it brought me back to the area, which was also one of the drivers.”
Growing up, Dane loved living in Bellevue but, like many of his generation, after he graduated high school and then college, he moved away to enjoy the big city life.
After starting and growing a family - which then included his wife Jamie, whom he met in Minnesota, and their son Nicholas, now four, back to the town he was raised in. (The couple have since welcomed Natalie, who will be two in August, to their family.)
Dan and Dane opened Fox Cycle Works in May 2009 at 4009 Tiffin Avenue in a 4,000-square-foot shop they rented off of Erie Blacktop.
“They were really good to us helping us get started,” Dane said. “A lot of those guys ride. It was a vacant building they had that was pretty dilapidated, but it was in high traffic area and we fixed it up and stayed there for three years.”
In April 2011, the partners bought the former Ramones Banquet Hall, at 1011 Fremont Avenue, in Sandusky off the city of Sandusky through the city’s then new Land Bank program. The program helps the city get rid of abandoned and delinquent properties. Through the program, people can submit bids and business plans for a piece of property in the program, showing how they will improve it.
“We had the lowest bid but we got scored the highest by the city commissioners for the best business plan - and because we were bringing jobs,” Dane said.
The building was the first commercial building sold under the program. And it was the perfect opportunity for Fox Cycle Works.
“We had actually outgrown the 4,000-square-foot shop the first year we were in business,” Dane said. “We had been looking for a building that would allow us to expand, Ramones was a pretty well-known place and it was in a highly trafficked area, right on Route 6 and right off Route 2.”
The building had been empty for seven years and was in pretty rough shape.
After lots of work on the 16,000-square foot building, Fox Cycle Works opened in an 8,000-square-foot space (half of the building is rented to Fitzgerald’s Auto) - double the size of their old space. In the new expanded space, they were were able to add jobs, going from five full-time employees to seven full-time and three part-time, and the bigger facility also allowed them to expand their winter storage program for motorcycles. Proper winter storage for motorcycles is an important detail, Dane said. “You can run into problems if your bike is not stored properly in the winter,” he said. “You can have moisture get inside and that creates rust. Basically, you drop it off, we store it and maintain it, and then when you pick it up, you are ready to ride. We had our best winter ever this year with the winter storage program. We stored 140 bikes.”
“We started out in 2011 as a service-focused business and that is still our bread and butter today. But now, in addition to repairs, we are doing more sales and we are using our service reputation to sell bikes. All of the bikes we sell have been run through our service department. The main reason people come here is experience. These guys have worked on bikes for a long time. Dan has close to 20 years of experience in Dyno Tuning. We have guys who come from Toledo and Columbus to have him tune their bikes. He had a good customer base built up when he was at Roeders. We have a lot of guys who come in who only want to talk to him.”
Fox’s other employees have almost as many years of experience. Lowell Morrison has 18 years of experience as a Harley Davidson Mechanic) and has been with Fox Cycle Works for five years. Shop Manager Vince Fries has been building bikes for 12 years.
“We all ride. We are all passionate about bikes and about the lifestyle that comes with it,” Dane said. “And we stand behind everything we do. We are focused on service and customer service - not overcharging our customers, getting things approved before we do the work, and if there is a problem, we make it right. We do things professionally. We try to get people in and out in a timely fashion because the riding season is so short.”
Plans For The Future
Now, after five years in business, Fox Cycle Works is looking at growing again.
“When we started in 2009, the economy was rough. Unemployment was high. People were just doing the bare minimum to keep their bikes running. But as the economy improved, people started investing more, spending more on the fun stuff, not just tires and oil changes. Now that the economy has picked up, business has as well, and we are exploring expansion opportunities here at this site.”
Dane credits some of the shop’s success to all of the support they have received from friends and family.
“Anytime we need help, they are there,” he said. “The reason we are where we are today, is because of the help and support we get from people around us. If you try to do it alone, you ‘ll fail.”
-Credit Bellevue Gazette