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Weekly Business Profile

PJ's Motorcycles
Antonio Ramon
Type of business:
Motorcycle Dealership

PJ LaMariana

Business Address:

12910 Central Ave SE
Albuquerque NM 87123

Business Email:

Business Website:

What was your first job?
Working as a laborer in commercial construction. I did that for a few years and learned the value of hard work. I also learned that making work fun makes working hard easy.
How did you get started in this business?
I was a lifelong motorcycle enthusiast looking to start my own business, so I chose to follow my passion. I had no idea what I was getting myself into; it was easily the biggest project I've ever undertaken. I had thought about other businesses, but having no experience in the motorcycle business gave me a fresh and somewhat naive perspective.
Why did you choose this business?
I read an article about John Bloor, the man that owns Triumph, and I was blown away by his story. This was a guy who made his first million before age twenty—and he came from very humble beginnings. He is an aspirational figure to say the least. I wanted to be in business with a man like that.
What is your business philosophy?
I wanted to create a store where I would want to shop, inclusive for all. I ask myself and the staff to put ourselves in our customers’ shoes and give the service and respect we would expect. It sounds a little idealistic, but it's worked so far. Basically, the golden rule.
What is your educational background?
Sadly not much. I never went to school much, so I worked. I did go to college for a year and then to culinary school at Johnson and Wales. I'll burn this so my sons don't see it, but I was not a student in the traditional sense. Not at all.
What is your or your company's greatest asset?
Our customers, our brands and our staff.
What are your strongest business traits?
Problem solving is what I equate everything to. Finding how to best run the business, finding the right fit for a customer, figuring out how to bring out the best in my staff. I treat it all like a big puzzle. I must be good at puzzles because I'm still getting to play motorcycle after ten years.
What motivates you to succeed besides the desire to make money?
To keep the dream alive. I get to go to a building that's filled with coolest stuff in town everyday and make a living at it.
What successes in the past year are you most proud of accomplishing?
We've maintained our spot as the number one volume and customer service dealer for Triumph in the Southwest/Central region for three years running. We were also the Southwest dealer of the year for Husqvarna, and we’ve captured market share awards for Ducati as well. Accolades aside, I'm really excited that we're duplicating our pre-recession sales figures. I have to say rebuilding from that has been most satisfying.
How would you define your position within the marketplace or within your market segment?
We're a European-specific motorcycle shop, so that in of itself is unique. But even bigger is that we're an enthusiast-based shop. Enthusiast-based shops are becoming pretty rare in our industry—we're more a throwback in that way. Years ago, you could walk into a motorcycle store and know that the people working there were your peers—just motorcycle people who were only there for the love of it. In the last 20 years, just like many other industries, the motorcycle business has become corporatized and impersonal. We strive to create an environment that is authentic—a shop for people who want a real motorcycle experience, not a Wal-Mart or some prissy boutique.
What is your company's greatest challenge?
I want myself and the guys at the shop to get better at what we do all the time. We never stop learning and I tweak the store constantly to improve. That's one of the best parts of business, getting to look in the mirror and ask how we can be better for our customers and ourselves. Our challenge is in being honest about our shortcomings, finding solutions and taking action. I love it!
Do you have a hero or mentor-business or otherwise?
My father. I grew up working for him and learning his work ethic. I learned what it takes to be successful from him. What it takes is everything you have and everything you didn't even know you had, as well.
What inspires you?
While I was doing the work to start the business, I heard many times that Albuquerque couldn't support a Triumph dealer. When it came time to name the store, my wife Kristy strongly encouraged me to name the business PJ's Triumph. I wasn't too comfortable with the name, but it had many connotations and went against everything we were hearing. We thought if we pull this off it will truly be "PJ's Triumph." The later additions of Ducati and Husky were again big risks, so when I see Triumphs and Ducatis running around and Huskys on the trail, I have a deep sense of pride. We did something nobody thought we could, and we did it on our own terms. I guess I'm inspired by continuing to prove people wrong when they think an enthusiast based, European motorcycle shop is not viable.

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