John Parham, founder and former president of J&P Cycles, picks up the Don J. Brown Lifetime Achievement Award today during ceremonies at the 2012 Dealer Expo and American V-Twin Dealer Show in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Doubtless you know that J&P Cycles is the world’s largest aftermarket motorcycle parts and accessories retailer online, and John will be recognized at a luncheon today for his lifetime of dedication to the motorcycle industry — most recently for his efforts in creating the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa, which is also home to J&P’s headquarters. That main location, as well as our satellite location in Ormond Beach, Fla., has both won numerous Top 100 Dealer awards over the years.
The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented each year to an individual icon who furthers the motorcycle sport, business and industry in general over the period of a lifetime. The award is named after Don J. Brown, the founding editor of Dealernews, who became a leading motorcycle industry researcher during a half-century career.
John, along with his wife, Jill, turned operational duties of J&P Cycles over to their son, Zach, last year so they could spend more time expanding the museum, which moved to a new location in 2010. The museum is housed in a 36,000-square-foot facility, displaying more than 320 motorcycles from around the world as well as thousands of pieces of motorcycle memorabilia and artwork.
As a freshman in high school, John purchased his first bike — a Honda 50, stepping up to a 650 BSA by his senior year. Then came a used Honda 750 chopper after graduation and thoughts about starting up his own shop. He married Jill, worked at a few factory jobs, and spent his weekends at motorcycle swap meets.
He and a friend teamed up to open a shop in 1975 and four years later, John and his partner parted ways and the passionate vintage and custom Harley mechanic opened J&P Cycles in a rented dirt-floor garage near his home. The couple began selling parts at a swap meet from the back of the family van, and as John will still tell you to this day, he thought J&P would do okay but never get this big.
John attributes a lot of the success of J&P to luck, being in the right place at the right time and timing with the market. But much of it is really due to John’s relentless seven-day workweeks, heading off to swap meets on the weekends, coordinating events with Jill and running a great parts business. Today, the company John and Jill founded produces one of the largest mail-order catalogs in the industry, with this year’s Harley edition featuring 1,064 pages containing more than 40,000 motorcycle parts and accessories.
From all of us who work here at J&P Cycles… Congratulations, John!