Born To Ride Magazine Interviews Zach Parham, Our VP of Operations
October 25, 2010 | By: J&P Cycles
Our own Zach Parham — who was recently named vice president of operations and has been a key contributor in developing our retail store operations — began his J&P career back when he was still riding a tricycle around the shop. He joined J&P fulltime in May of 2007 after graduating from Wartburg College with a degree in accounting and finance, and is now married and has a 2-year-old son. Zach was recently interviewed by “Born to Ride, Florida” for their 77th issue. Below is a copy of that great article. To view the magazine, visit http://www.borntoride.com
As a biker, if there is an opportunity to add some chrome to your bike, you do it. If there’s a weekend you can set aside to replace your brakes or cables, you do it. What if you have a great opportunity to head out to Daytona and check out the LARGEST bike superstore ever to purchase your weekend task items? Well, you do it!
I am talking about J&P Cycles. J&P Cycles is one of the most reputable, longstanding names in the industry, providing great customer service for the last 31 years. This customer service has created a customer base of loyal Harley, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Yamaha and Honda motorcycle riders. J&P Cycles also boasts more than 40 technical experts with more than 750 years of combined technician experience and can assist you with any motorcycle question you have.
J&P Cycles has two locations; the headquarters in Anamosa, Iowa, where it all began and one at Destination Daytona, near Bruce Rossmeyer’s Harley-Davidson. If those of you aren’t aware of this supersized supercenter for motorcycle parts and accessories, then sit back, relax and listen in on the conversation I had with Zach Parham of J&P Cycles.
Q: Hi Zach! It’s great to talk with you about J&P Cycles! I’m very impressed with your business. You and your family have accomplished so much. What is the exact square footage of your Daytona Superstore?
A: Our Destination Daytona facility is 35,000 square feet and includes a 24,000 square foot showroom and 11,000 square foot second floor call center.
Q: How many pieces of inventory do you have in stock?
A: In Florida, we have almost 16,000 skus. In Iowa, that number is almost three times as many with 40,000 skus.
Q: When I was talking with Ron Galletti about your business, he said your dad, John, took part in the Boardwalk show in Daytona, where you helped pass out trophies. Do you remember that?
A: Oh yeah, I remember that!
Q: The best part of this is that 15 years ago when Born to Ride started, Ron has you on tape passing out trophies!
A: (Laughing) No kidding! We always took part in the Boardwalk show in Daytona. I was fortunate enough to attend numerous bike shows and swap meets with my parents growing up. As a kid, handing out trophies at these events was a big deal.
Q: What is the history of J&P Cycles?
A: J&P Cycles officially started back in 1979. For years, my dad worked a full-time job and worked the Cycles side after work and on weekends. During this time, in addition to providing service work at the shop, he began attending swap meets, buying and selling new and used parts. Things went well until 1984, when an electrical fire broke out in the J&P Cycles shop and the building and business was a total loss. Dad didn’t have near enough insurance and ended up losing over $30,000 parts that were not covered and another $25,000 on the building. While he easily could have given up, he didn’t. Instead he rented a building temporarily in downtown Anamosa and with the insurance money he did have and with lots of help from family and friends, started to rebuild. In July of 1984, J&P Cycles found its permanent home on the outskirts of Anamosa when dad purchased a warehouse.
With all the space and service and repair hitting an all time low, dad decided to begin passing out flyers at swap meets with motorcycle parts he had for sale. The flyers worked great, and the business really began to grow. The first J&P Cycles “catalog” was published in 1987. It was 24 pages. During that time, dad also began promoting more motorcycle shows and swap meets. It worked out well in getting the word out to bikers about J&P Cycles. This led to dad officially starting J&P Promotions, which quickly became a nationwide promoter of motorcycle swap meets, bike shows, hill climbs, motorcycle rodeos, dirt track races and the All Harley Drag Races around the country.
The largest event, and biggest decision dad made in the promotions business was to rent the huge McCormick Place in Chicago and build up the largest indoor motorcycle show and swap meet in the United States. With over 280,000 square feet of space, the show had over 800 exhibitors and over 200 bikes were entered each year into the bike show. Everything dad touched really took off during this time. The promotions part of the business and other entities were sold off years back, but the catalog and retail locations are what make J&P Cycles hum. Today, our catalog offerings include those for Harley, Metric, Gold Wing and Vintage.
Q: What made you decide to open a place in Florida?
A: We always had a strong presence in Florida during Bike Week and Biketoberfest with a store on Beach Street. When Bruce Rossmeyer began the plans for Destination Daytona, it was something my dad could not pass up. He always wanted to open a store in Florida and this was the chance at the largest biker attraction in Florida.
Q: Who’s running the show here in Florida when you’re in Iowa?
A: Chris Pearson oversees the operations in Florida. We also have a number of key staff members who relocated to Florida from our Iowa headquarters before opening in 2007. Overall, our team at Destination Daytona is quite strong. It is really a great group of people! Technology allows us to all keep in touch with each other and through teleconferencing, both the Iowa and Florida staff members are present at monthly meetings.
Q: Sturgis is one place you go with our semi-trailer store. Tell me about that?
A: J&P Cycles has had a presence at Sturgis for more than 30 years. We own more than a city block on Main and Lazelle streets in Sturgis, where we have two stores (one Harley and one Metric) to serve our Sturgis customers, which are open before and during the rally. In addition, our semi attends various events across the country throughout the year and this is one of them. Our semi is literally a rolling showroom and houses products for Harley-Davidson motorcycles, Metric Cruisers and Vintage bikes. With a new awning, we are also able to have a display of parts customers can purchase and take with them at events, such as mirrors, grips, oil filters, etc.
Q: Do you go out to Sturgis?
A: Yes, I went this year. In fact, I’ve been going to Sturgis since I was a kid and helping since I could talk. This year was a great year. It was wonderful to be a part of the 70th Sturgis Rally & Races. This was a wonderful year for our stores, as well. Not only were the attendance numbers up, but our sales numbers were as well.
Q: How large is your store in Iowa?
A: Our Iowa showroom is approximately 5,000 square feet and the warehouse is 150,000 square feet. In all, the Iowa headquarters encompasses 165,000 square feet. We employ 225 full-time workers and are the largest private employer in Jones County.
Q: What is the weirdest place you have ever sent any kind of part to in the world?
A: I’m not sure. We ship all over the world!
Q: How is John doing?
A: He is doing well. After undergoing lung transplant surgery in early August, he is now off oxygen and gaining strength every day.
Q: Any remote locations for Biketoberfest?
A: The J&P Cycles Semi will be on the Daytona Track during the event.
Q: I hear that Ritz Camera will be at J&P Cycles during Biketoberfest?
A: Yes, they will be on our lot during Biketoberfest. Attendees will be able to stop by and have their photo taken with their bike.
Q: It seems like family is a very important element to the success of J&P Cycles? Can you elaborate on this for me?
A: I was born into this. My dad purchased the location, where we are still located today a few days before I was born. I attended my first motorcycle event when I was just a year old and have been helping out in the business since I could talk. I have officially worked at J&P Cycles since 2001, working in the showroom, with the Internet department, at both Sturgis and Destination Daytona retail stores, and even the warehouse. When I graduated from Wartburg College in 2007, I joined the staff full-time and today serve as the Vice President of Operations. My son, Kaiden, who will be 2 in December is following in my footsteps, attending the J&P events with my parents and me at a very early age. Additionally, J&P Cycles would not be what it is today without our loyal, hardworking employees. They are family to us!
Q: I’d like to know where you see yourself going 10 years from now?
A: In the next 10 years, I’d like to see J&P Cycles expand further into other power sport markets. Within the last five years, we got into the Metric market and that has expanded our business nicely. Our core business has been and always will be the Harley parts, but we feel it is important to offer products for other makes, as well. Earlier this year, we published our first stand-alone catalog for Gold Wing parts and it has been successful. Another key to success is our website. We will need to continue changing to adapt to the latest in technological advances.
Q: I’m very honored that you took the time to talk with me about your fabulous business. Thank you so much for sharing J&P Cycles’ success with our readers of Born to Ride magazine!
A: Thank you, Susan! Our success is thanks to our employees and wonderful customers. It is an honor to serve them!