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Article Archives
The Long Lost Bill Kennedy Interview 06
03/28/07 - by Steven Winslow
Click on image for full size PopUp.

The Man, The Myth, The Legend...

Bill Hanging wit de sharks in Key West.

Bill and Lori, your hosts with East Coast Bikers Cruises.

Viper 4 Wheller from Williamsburg Motorworks

Rental Bay for Do it Yourselfers.

Saturdays at Williamsburg are always about hanging with friends.

Gettin Er Done!

We are the music-makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams, - Arthur O Shaughnessy

Article By Steven Winslow

I sat down with Bill Kennedy and Lori Robinson of Williamsburg Motorworks at Miami International Airport while waiting for a flight home. We had just spent the last 5 days and 4 nights on the Carnival Cruise Lines Fascination for the Innagural East Coast Bikers Cruises Cozumel November Event! Man O Man, what a week! Bill, Lori, Sheri, Randy, the rest of the ECBC crew and myself had a blast hitting Cozumel and Key West. These guys deffinately hold the franchise on an Easy Going down home Eastern Shore Laidback biker lifestyle! Anyway, here is the interview...

Winslow: So, whats the plan for East Coast Bikers Cruises?
Bill: The biggest thing we are talking about is having a good time and go as a big group. Most of us have a common interest in motorcycles, but you dont have to and thats a good thing too. So show em the video and say hey, next year these are the dates lets set it up and get more people going next year.
Winslow: Cool.
Lori: I was so glad the kids came. At least for me, I got a different perspective on the trip.
Bill: Then someone calls and says hey we are thinking about taking our kids, we can tell em its cool and they will have other kids along on the trip.
Lori: Yeah, we learned alot about the cruising, getting reservations, cabins and so on. What to do, what the kids liked. The thing with the aquarium, they said that was awesome.
Winslow: Oh yeah.
Lori: They loved doing the beach with you and Cheri. It was a great change of pace.
Winslow: Yeah, it was cool we all got to do what we wanted on the last day. A bunch went to the Aquarium and Air Boat rides, others went to the beach and some went to a gourmet food tasting. Something for everyone.
Bill: Yeah, we had to be off teh ship at 9 and had some hours to kill before we got on the plane home. There was alot to learn, and we got it down pretty good now I think. How was the beach?
Winslow: We grabbed a cab from the ship to the beach, that was $20, umm, got out, had the blanket and the towels and eveything with us, we just hit the beach. Went and hung out on South Beach for awhile, there was a bunch of resturants all along the way there by the beach. There was one resturant there that was kinda wild. Woulda liked that if I had time, money and a bunch of friends hanging out, but it wasnt the place to go with two girls, one under 18. They had the scantily clad women running around the sidewalk there.
Bill: *Laughing* Maybe on your next trip.
Winslow: *Laughing* Yeah, maybe on my next trip.
Bill: *Laughing* Yeah, maybe next time if theres a bunch of guys on the trip he can setup a side trip.
Winslow: Anything else you guys thought of you want to say here?
Bill: Yeah, just want to put in here that the trip is all about doing what you want to do. Its cool having a group there, but you are never required to do anything. Its all about your vacation, so you do what you have fun doing. One thing we learned was about excursions, you can do these well in advance online and get what you want, have it paid for and all you have to do is go when they call you on the ship. Very cool.
Winslow: Oh yeah, that was one thing to keep in mind. So whats next for East Coast Bikers Cruises? The Washington International Bike Show right?
Lori: We havnt gotten all teh details yet, Im waiting to hear on ticket prices.
Winslow: Hey, maybe we could get everybody together for Rolling Thunder, have em all together and ride out. Trying to figure out a way to get everyone all together, ride out have a fun day out.
Lori: We want to get all different people together that want to have fun. Older people, kids, anyone who wants to have fun with a group, but you dont have to do anything with the group, you can still do your own thing on these trips.
Winslow: We are going to be doing the truck and trailer thing again next year, so you guys are welcome to come out, hang a banner, hang out, give out some flyers and have some fun. Get the word out about ECBC. Oh by the way, a friend told me a story about you...
Bill: Who?
Winslow: Well, they said they were going hunting very early in the morning. They got thier ATVs out and loaded em up, got ready to go and figured out one of em had a gas leak. So they came over to your place at like 5 in the morning, got scared and didnt want to know on the door. As they walked up, you burst out of the door and scared the hell out of em with a Hey How can I help you?!?
Bill: *Laughing* Oh yeah, I remember that. I try to help people out when I can.
Winslow: *Laughing* I dunno, the whole thing struck me as pretty funny. It was the way the guy told it, how he was scared to knock so early in the morning. They were very impressed that you helped them out. Its just a typical Williamsburg Bill story.
Bill: Everybodys got a Bill story.
Winslow: Exactly, that is very cool. Its all good.
Bill: One thing we were thinking about was doing a trip to Washington, rent a bus, hit the air space museum, they have a 707 you can walk around and check out.
Winslow: They have a Concorde now too I think.
Bill: Yeah. They got a Space Shuttle standing up in one end now. We should ride over one day and check it out, see whats there, traffic and times and so on.
Winslow: So tell me more about Williamsburg Motorworks and what you do there.
Bill: Well, Im a lifetime member of the AMA (American Motorcycle Assooiation), Im a voting member.
Winslow: Very cool. Tell me about your background in motorcycles.
Bill: Its an awesome organization. Ive been doing this since I was in my 20s. Started out working, I was working with alot of guys in thier 40s and there I was in my 20s, they didnt want to do the work and I loved it. It was neat, it was different, after about 9 months, I got up one morning and looked in the mirror and said, Do I really want do do this? Be here 30 years? Im going to get ulcers worrying about stupid stuff. I made a move that financially didnt help me any, but really made me happy. I started working at Garys Kowasaki and went to alot of Kowasaki schools, worked at the Honda place in Easton... Went to alot of schools there, learned alot. Then I went to work at Sundance Cycle and learned that according to the boss its his shop and he will run it any way he wants, so I took his word for it. After working for him for 2 or 3 months, him interupting what I was doing, trying to work with the guys, whatever, him using his its my shop deal - Bill I hired you to do this I know how to run it better you know.. I said, ok thats fine. So... Lets see, late 89 the seed was planted and April the 18th was the last day of a working cycle. April 19th is my birthday, I sold one of my bikes, took the 28 or 29 hundred dollars, set a checking accoutn up and said here it is... I gotta work. I couldnt afford to look back, i had to look forward, I needed money coming in. But I had a following, some people who beleived in me. The best thing that happened I can tell you was when I worked for the Kowasaki dealer, he was meticulous about doing stuff right. He taught me how to do stuff right. Not how to do stuff, how to do stuff RIGHT. Theres 2 ways, either its right or its wrong. And he was just meticulous about it and that rubbed off on me. He was my mentor. So I picked up good habits and good things as opposed to bad ones. And that air just went with me. If you are not going to do it right, dont bother, dont do it at all.
Winslow: Thats the smart way to do it.
Bill: If you wantt o come in and you only want to rebuild half your engine, thats fine, you can load it up and take it somewhere else. If it all needs to be rebuilt, it all needs to be rebuilt, you cant half ass it. I earned that reputation when i worked for Terry and went to a few other places. I never realized how many people belived in that until i opened up my own shop and they all came to see me. It helped because it was already there, that reputation.
Winslow: Alot word of mouth.
Bill: Yeah. Basically, I never really advertized, it was all word of mouth. Oh yes, and funny business cards. I will have to get you some. Lets face it, thats THE best form of advertizement - word of mouth.
Winslow: Oh Yeah, we WERE going to try to find your busniess card at the bar in key West, but it was hopeless.
Bill: You made it to Sloppy Joes?
Winslow: Naw, we ended up in the Hogs Breath and ran out of time.
Bill: Funny thing is, some of my busniess cards have not only been spread around Delaware and Maryland, they are in key West, places like this, all over. One of my business cards a friend who works at Dover Air Force Base ummm he told me he seen it when he was in South America in Brazil. And he asked them where they got it. It was a fax blown up on the wall. The Barzilians got it from the Austrailians who got it from the British, and they got it from somebody who was over here. This was noninternet.
Winslow: Wow very cool.
Bill: You know were not Orange County Choppers, we didnt have a television show or anything like this, but hes been in different countriues with a Tshirt on and people say, I know where thats at. I know them guys! Its just hilarious your somewhere else and somebody goes, hey I know them! Its one of those things, you keep putting gtood stuff out, everyone has good stuff to say about you, your name gets around. It makes me feel good to hear someone say Hey someone said they knew you and you did this or did that and not have to worry about it being something bad.
Winslow: Ive heard nothing but good stuff.
Bill: Ill give you a good example, this guy brought his motorcycle in, I worked on it, fixed the problem, and in working on it I dropped something on the tank and scratched it. It can happen, its a shop. The thing is, what i was taught years ago, evrybody makes mistakes. Fix it, get through with it, move on. The whole thing is that customer is very satisfied, he will be back. When someone asks him, he can tell a bad story with a happy ending. So at this point, he brings the bike back, I get an estimate to get it repaired from another shop and he says, heres something else I need fixed. So I did that minor repair for free. So at this point hes not only happy, hes getting more work done. You see, you treat people the way you want to be treated. Sometimes you might do a job and ends up costing you money, it all comes back to you. Some shops, and Ive seen franchise shops do it as well as independants, they just get you in the door, get your money, get you out the door. If you are not buying something they are not interested in you, they just want you to spend your money. I dont mind, its the competition. They either get better or they get out. Theyve done nothing but good for me. If they need work done that I cant do, they may go to a place that does good, and they tell me that, I say great, I will recommend them. But I meet alot of people that go to different shops, they get charged alot of money and they dont get the work done well or its not right, then they bring it to me and we fix it. And in alot of cases they say I spent more money to get them to do this and it wasnt right and Bill can do it for less and do it right. That makes me feel good when I hear that. Im gonna charge, i have to make money, thats what im in business for. But I dont have to make a living off of every customer that comes in the door.
Winslow: Right, that makes sense. To me, you cant go to a shop that charges too low or any business that doesnt charge enough. They wont survive. Generally you are getting a poor product.You want someone who takes pride in what they do, they know they are going to do it right and they charge a fair price.
Bill: When I first started, it was a small storage shed on my property. When I started out I said its not a storage shed anymore, its my shop. I poured concrete, put up walls, a counter, lights, bink bink bink one at a time. My plan was then, I had 3 things I had to do within 5 years. Number 1 was I had to put some money into the house. Gotta pay to eat, gotta have food. Number 2 was put some money back into the business, stock more stuff, more oil, more mirrors, more tires and such. Number 3 was put some money away so i could build a building just for this purpose. Within 5 years I signed a contract and put a building up. Im glad I did it that way, I could have borrowed the money, put the building up. But I put it up in stages. I put the first part up, the second part up and so on. Then I went and bought the other propery and put the rest of the building up.
Winslow: You do alot of work yourself on that building dont you?
Bill: Well, we had the shell put up, electrical work, went back to when I was an engineer, running electrical wires, its just something I can close my eyes and do it. And you gotta remember its a pole building theres not that much to it. You put it up, do what you want with it.
Winslow: One thing you never want to let me do is touch electrics. I can swap batteries out, thats about it.
Bill: *Laughing*
Winslow: Well, thanks for taking the time to do this interview.
Bill: No problem.

- Steven Winslow

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