DRAG SPECIALTIES “BIG BOOK”
Wayne “Speed” Hanson and his family take the store and the shop right to the customers!
Here’s a real turn-around situation: Wouldn’t it be something if instead of sitting in one place hoping your customers will find you, come into your store to buy their performance goodies and have them installed – you could take the whole shebang — showroom and shop — right out to the customers themselves? Go right out to all the big Harley-Davidson runs and rallies across the nation, the places where you know you’re going to find thousands of riders all eager to change something on their bikes? Wouldn’t that be something?
Well, it is something for Wayne “Speed” Hanson and his family’s business, Speed’s Performance Plus. Speed’s motorcycle shop isn’t the conventional brick-and-mortar building, and it isn’t anything Internet based, rolling over the nation’s highways to more than 30 events every year bringing the store and the shop right to the riders.
How’s that for a turn-around?
“It all boils down to hard work and plenty of dedication,” Speed says, beginning to describe his operation that’s now in its fourth year. Even though he’s bringing his shop to his customers, “You still have to get the people to come to you. You have to make them trust you.” And they have. Speed’s Performance Plus will carry upwards of $45,000 worth of inventory into a big rally like Daytona or Sturgis, and most times leave town with an empty truck, having sold and installed just about everything they had.
“Everyone back home thinks we’re just on a big joy ride making money hand over fist,” Speed laughs. But those folks, may be a little envious at the thought of a family like spent out on the road, don’t see the tremendous number of hours Speed and his crew put into this operation. This year alone Speed’s Performance Plus is on schedule to do 23 stops across the country, “but that always gets bumped up,” Speed says. By year’s end, Speed’s Performance Plus will have attended 30 or more motorcycle events. And like we said, they’ve been doing it that way for four years now.
Speed’s Performance Plus is easy to spot, even in the middle of a giant, multi-dimensional circus like Daytona Bike Week. These days Speed, his wife Patty, his sons Jason and Jamie, and a crackerjack mechanic named Jim McConnell pull into an event with a stretched Freightliner semi with a 40-foot trailer behind it, a 33-foot motor home with a 16-foot trailer, and another 26-foot motor home pulling yet another 8-foot stuffed with parts and displays. Speed’s mobile shop is inside the double-deck 40-foot trailer that the Freightliner is towing, sharing space with a Dynojet Model 250 Load Control dyno, complete with Tuning Link. It’s top-of-the-line equipment, in fact it’s an actual Dynojet Power Commander Tuning Center, but one that’s on the move. All this is quite a jump from the single pickup tuck and mobile dyno that Speed started with when he left his Watertown, South Dakota, home and headed for the Harleys.
In the beginning, Speed would stick to simply dyno-testing and tuning motorcycles. Little by little he began installing some performance parts too, and that’s where the Drag Specialties connection started. “Drag has that whole catalog chock full of the kinds of things I was selling and installing, so the match-up was perfect, “Speed says. Both Speed and the guys from Drag Specialties saw the possibilities here, the chance to really get big and move a lot of performance exhaust systems, carburetors, air filters, ignition systems—anything and everything having to do with tuning and performance. The connection was perfect, because as Speed says, “When it comes to parts, Drag Specialties is No. 1 in the industry, simple as that.”
Working the circuit at the level Speed’s Performance Plus does isn’t cheap, not when you factor in all the travel costs, the space fees, the various licenses involved and the taxes and insurance coverage needed. Along with Drag Specialties, Speed has assembled an all-star lineup of non-competing sponsors to help defray some of theat overhead, including companies like Dynojet, Rivera Engineering, Holley/Hooker, Competition Cams, Mikuni, K&N and Force Motor Products. He’ll bring along displays for all his sponsors too, and he’ll set them up and man them whether the sponsor’s crew is on-site or not. The result is a mini-trade-show all by itself, with half a dozen major manufacturers all under the same Speed’s Performance Plus awning. And it’s a busy place.
From first thing in the morning until they call it a day the guys are going non-stop, hardly having time to take a break. “It all comes down to doing great work,” Speed says. “When you charge a fair price for a fair job a satisfied customer will always tell a friend, and away we go again!” It’s always the same story, too. “The first thing everyone wants is a little louder motorcycle,” Speed says. “They want to hear their bike.” They might tell all this to the guys at the Drag Specialties truck, who’ll say that’s fine, the pipes are right over at Speed’s and you can get them put on there too, but then they’ll go on to suggest that now’s the time to add a Power Commander and do a filter change. They’ll hear all of this again from Speed. “Of course,” he says. “You sell it as a ‘package’ and you do it right the first time.” It makes for a bigger sales ticket, sure, but it also makes for a happy customer, and that’s the real bottom line.
To fuel all of this and keep the three outside lifts full there ware at least 10 different sets of pipes on the Speed’s Performance truck at all times, and that’s just for the smaller, weekend shows. For the big runs and rallies Speed will stock up beforehand and bring closer to 40 or 50 sets with him. He’ll sell them all.
And Power Commanders? “Oh man,” Speed says. “At Sturgis alone I’ll end up doing probably 35 to 40 Power Commanders myself, not counting what the other guys do.”
Did we mention that, in addition to keeping those three outside lifts humming all day lone with the quick jobs, inside the trailer-shop the guys at Speed’s Performance Plus are building motors? They are. Speed’s Performance Plus will actually assemble complete performance big-bore engines right at the show. They’ll take a customer’s stock bike and dyno-test it for a baseline, then that evening they’ll roll the bike into the shop and begin work. By the next afternoon the customer’s picking up his 90 or 100-horsepower big-bore conversion. Speed’s Performance will have changed the cylinders, heads, cams, the works. “We’ll run the bike for about an hour on the dyno and change the oil,” Speed says. The customer can then take his bike and break it in during the rest of his stay at the event. Before heading home he’ll stop back by Speed’s Performance Plus for a final tuning and dyno session.
Amazing, isn’t it? “We don’t do too many of these full jobs at a show,” Speed says. “Naturally, they’re pretty time consuming and we’re really concentrating on the pipe installations, filter changes and Power Commander tuning and re-mapping jobs.” Still, they’ll take on a handful of the engine builds at each big run, and they’ve gotten the process down pat. “We’ll double-team a bike during tear-down and have it all apart in just a little over a half hour.” Speed says. The build up, of course, is more time-consuming, and every care is taken to make sure everything’s absolutely right. “That’s where you’ll spend your eight or nine hours,” Speed says. Everyone on the team is a fully qualified mechanic, and everyone pitches in where they’re needed, but Jim McConnell actually handles most of the full engine builds.
After four years on the road bringing Speed’s Performance Plus to riders coast-to-coast Speed and his team “have become probably the No. 1 or No. 2 tuners in the country when it comes to setting up motorcycles,” Speed says. They start their year with the new product shows in February and then hit every major event – and lots of minor ones –right through their New Orleans finale in November.
“We’re supporting four families off these trucks, working a hard nine months a year.” Speed Hanson says with obvious pride. “And that’s not bad,” he says, “not when there’s the bonus of actually liking what we’re doing!” Not to mention the fact that he’s not waiting for any customers to come to him – he’s going right to them.
“We’re on a nice roll right now,” Speed says. “We’re going to keep doing this just as long as we can.”
Article reprinted with permission from Drag Specialties Magazine.