Decision to move business ‘was not easy,’ partner says

By Jim Kendall

This column originally appeared in the June 2, 2014 Daily Herald



There are certain steps common to most business moves:

* Determine whether a move is needed.

* If it’s time to move, find new space. If you’re iMotorsports Inc., finding space included finding the dollars to swing the purchase of a former Suzuki auto dealership in Elmhurst.

* Pack and go.

“Man, oh man,” says Haider Saba when asked about the two-day move two months ago from multiple facilities in Roselle to the company’s new showcase home in Elmhurst. “There was a lot of stress.”

Did I mention that iMotorsports sells used motorcycles and that the do-it-ourselves move involved five trucks and trailers (up to 50-feet long), 200 or so motorcycles and “a bunch of helpers?” Or that the move coincided with the beginning of the business’ seasonal surge in sales?

“Our main concern was safety,” says Saba. “We didn’t want a motorcycle falling off on 290.”

None fell. And after closing down in Roselle on a late March Saturday, iMotorsports was open for business on Tuesday, April 1 in Elmhurst.

Moving motorcycles probably is more complicated than moving desks, file cabinets and computers, but any move is pretty much the end of the process. It’s deciding whether to make the move that can be difficult.

“It was not an easy decision,” says Saba, 50-50 iMotorsports partner with childhood friend Tim Walter and the day-to-day owner on site. Like other entrepreneurs pondering a move-or-stay decision, Saba and Walter faced several considerations:

* Operating from three different locations in Roselle was inefficient, even though the buildings were within one-half mile of each other. The larger facility in Elmhurst, on a two-acre parcel with an outbuilding, seemed right.

Nonetheless, “If I was 50-years old and looking at retirement in 10 years, I’d ask, ‘Why now?’” Saba admits. However, Saba and Walter are 32 and, Saba says, “not looking to sit back.”

* Timing. “It’s a great time to buy property,” Saba says. Blending a combination of bank funding and personal finances, the pair spent about $1.8 million on their new facility – including renovations. Using insurance figures and admittedly guessing, Saba puts the current value at $3 million.

* Municipal support. The city of Elmhurst helped, allowing iMotorsports to split the parcel and lease the outbuilding as a used car store.

* An opportunity to become a destination for customers.

“Motorcycle dealerships are a tough business,” Saba says. “A lot of companies didn’t make it past the recession, and some that did still can’t get out of the hole.

“With the economy coming back, we want to be so far ahead of little guys popping up they can’t catch us,” Saba says. “We want to be the destination store” for used motorcycle buyers.

For many buyers, the destination actually is, the company’s website. Thanks to a customer-friendly shipping policy, as many as 25 percent of the company’s motorcycles are purchased sight unseen.


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