Big Dog Motorcycles has been foreclosed on by Intrust Bank and the company is closing its doors after once billing itself as “The World’s Largest Manufacturer of Custom Bikes.”
After initially denying that they were going out of business when we called corporate headquarters Monday and posted our “Is Big Dog Motorcycles Closing its Doors?” blog, the cat is officially out of the bag. Big Dog Motorycles (BDM) has closed its doors for good after Intrust Bank foreclosed on the company Wednesday. This does not bode well for Big Dog owners whose motorcycles were still under warranty which are now null and void.
On the positive side, BDM owners will still be able to get parts for their bikes. Big Dog founder Sheldon Coleman is opening up a new enterprise called BDM Performance Products in Big Dog’s former service and research and development buildings. The company intends on providing aftermarket parts for other American V-Twins as well. The former president of Big Dog Motorcycles, Mike Simmons, will oversee the new company and they intend to bring over the last 22 Big Dog employees to the new business with them.
As of Monday, Big Dog’s receptionist was still denying reports that the company was going under and employees were still in the building acting like it was business as usual. No official word has been heard from Coleman as Simmons has been fielding questions in his stead.
But the writing has been on the wall for Big Dog for quite some time. The first round of layoffs for the company began in 2007. The trend continued in 2008 as more BDM workers lost their job. We had an inkling that things were only getting worse when our contact and long-time marketing director Paul Hansen was let go after helping steer the company to its height of popularity. An outright plea for help followed in 2009 when Big Dog enlisted the services of William Blair & Company to find the company someone to merge with or provide a financial lifeline. The bleeding continued though and a workforce that once consisted of over 300 employees had dwindled down to 22 before Intrust finally threw in the towel on Big Dog Motorcycles.
On a personal note, we hate to see another American motorcycle company go under. We’ve met Coleman on a number of occasions and he always came across as an intelligent, dedicated and passionate guy. From what we’ve heard, he always treated his dealership network fairly. But the style of bikes Big Dog offers are on the high-end and the popularity of that style of motorcycle has waned. Motorcycles are like fashion trends in the sense that they follow cycles. In 25-30 years from now, some big-name celebrity is going to be seen rolling around on a big bike dripping in polished chrome with a crazy-long front end, an ultra-fat tire on the backside with a monster V-Twin rumbling beneath him and all of a sudden everybody is going to want one. Of course, the engine might be electric, the way things are going. But Big Dog can take pride that they rode the crest of the wave at the height of the big-wheeled, high combustion craze and were once the leaders of the niche. With the fight for fossil fuels becoming ever more fervent, who knows for sure where our future is headed.