Articles & photos
New owner of Erik Buell Racing
20-1-2016 - New owner of Erik Buell Racing says he wants to revive the company By Rick Barrett of the Journal Sentinel Jan. 14, 2016
The new owner of Erik Buell Racing motorcycle company says the East Troy firm could make yet another comeback if the right business partners get involved.
Thursday, Walworth County Circuit Judge Phillip Koss approved the sale of Erik Buell Racing to Liquid Asset Partners for $2 million.
The Grand Rapids, Mich., firm won the bidding for the motorcycle company that employed 130 people in East Troy until it ceased operations in April and filed for receivership, a state court proceeding similar to bankruptcy.
It was the third auction for the Buell manufacturing assets after two previous auctions failed.
Now, Liquid Asset Partners says it wants to develop a plan that could put Erik Buell Racing back in the business of making high-performance motorcycles.
"We will not be manufacturing motorcycles, as Liquid Asset, but we will be working to put together a plan with a team that can be successful in doing that," said Liquid Asset owner Bill Melvin Jr.
"There are no guarantees. A portion of our business is that we are liquidators, but we are also power players in the motorcycle industry," Melvin said.
Founded in 1974, Liquid Asset Partners has worked with motorcycle manufacturers, including Indian Motorcycle Co., before Indian was acquired by Polaris Industries. It liquidated the assets of the Buell factory, in East Troy, when Harley-Davidson Inc. dropped the Buell brand in 2009.
Liquid Asset Partners will be seeking investors, or a buyer, for Erik Buell Racing.
"There are still a lot of options on the table for a new owner to come in and continue making EBRs. The company is not a start-up; this is an established brand with a huge following across the globe," Melvin said.
While the East Troy company, founded in a Mukwonago barn more than 30 years ago, has struggled in the marketplace, it has been a feisty competitor in motorcycle racing.
"Their (EBR) bikes, out of the box, can go head-to-head with the top Italian race bikes. Our sale process will enable the proper exposure of the company and price flexibility that may better fit a new owner," Melvin said.
The next step for Buell could involve crowdfunding, a private investor or another motorcycle manufacturer. Melvin said he hopes that company founder Erik Buell and the rest of the Buell management team will remain part of the process.
"Our hope is that someone will continue to make these amazing motorcycles," Melvin said.