www.atvtires.ca

 

LEARNING TO SURVIVE IN THE MOTORCYCLE BUSINESS

 

In the fall of 1976 I ordered for spring delivery a brand new 1977 Harley Davidson Superglide from Dave’s Cycle in Woodstock New Brunswick, I drove that until I was poisoned on my job in 1981 fixing construction equipment. The company I was working for was running heavy construction equipment indoors and I was working and breathing the diesel fumes 5 days a week for one year. My doctor said that I had to quit the mechanic job because it was harmful to my health, I did quit the job and I argued with a Workers Compensation doctor who said that I couldn’t get sick from heavy exposure to diesel fumes.  I talked to lawyers who were supposed to represent me and fight my case with Workers Compensation but the only persons who ever received any monies were the Workers Compensation lawyers. This nonsense went on for a few years until I realized that Workers Compensation was stone walling me and everyone else who had a claim that was a little out of the ordinary. I ended up in bed for most of the next 2 years, I suffered from a severe lack of energy and I had allergies to seventy percent of the food that I was accustomed to eating, allergies to cigarette and cigar smoke plus sinus congestion that would not go away, allergies to cats and dogs, severe allergies to perfume, aftershave lotion, body lotions, hair sprays, soaps, hair shampoo, household cleaning supplies, dust, carpets, house plants because of the mold in the soil, dyes in new clothing, petroleum products, gasoline, diesel fuel, diesel and gasoline fumes and constant migraine headaches when I had never had a migraine headache in my life, mental confusion and lots of intestinal gas and heart burn so bad I thought I was having the big one, this also made it almost impossible to socialize or go to parties because of the usual smoke, perfumes and aftershaves associated with those events, I could also stink out a room if I ate food that didn’t agree with my. I had muscle spasms that would pop some of my spine discs out and leave me frozen in pain, no one knew anything about environmental illness and that I was environmentally ill. Finally in 1982 with no money coming in I had to sell my Harley but I didn’t want to go without a motorcycle so I bought a 1972 Norton Commando to drive around on, I kept the Norton for a few months but eventually sold it because I needed money for essentials like food and rent. In 1983 when my health gradually  began to get a little better I borrowed some money from a friend and I started Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Magazine covering motorcycle events on the East Coast of Canada, some local boys started to call me Rock Bottom Rick because I seemed to be living from day to day. In a short while my new contacts in the motorcycle business helped me get started wholesaling Pirelli and Michelin motorcycle tires to motorcycle dealers throughout the Maritimes, from California I also started to import tractor trailer loads of hard to find ATV and motorcycle tires. Rolling Thunder motorcycle magazine lasted until 1985, during the three years of producing the magazine it kept getting harder each year to talk the local motorcycle businesses into supporting a motorcycle magazine that was being produced in the Maritimes, especially since I had no background in the magazine business or in the motorcycle business. In 1985 my physical health was good enough for me to work for short periods of time as long as I took a rest every two hours, I realized that working for someone else full time was out of the question.

While traveling to the many different Harley, Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha and Kawasaki dealerships over the three years that I ran the magazine I had noticed the explosive growth in ATV sales so I made the decision in the spring of 1985 to open All Terrain Charley's. I started the business as an ATV and motorcycle repair shop with $5,000 my wife had saved at her job at a bank, six months later I signed up as a Polaris ATV dealership and sold Polaris ATV’s for 10 years. 

I also sold ATV, motorcycle and snowmobile parts and accessories but the largest percentage of my business was the sale of ATV and motorcycle tires. The first 10 years I ran All Terrain Charley’s  I would take short naps in the rear shop, if anyone came in the front door my shop dog Quad runner would give a small bark and come back to wake me up. Quad runner was half American Bull Terrier and half English Bull Terrier, I called her a Canadian Bull Terrier, she was the greatest dog with women and kids but she was very selective with males.

I traded a local biker one new motorcycle tire for his Harley in exchange for Quad runner, she was the runt of the litter at 6 weeks old but I could see that she had spunk. The biker was on his way to the slammer so I got a good deal, he also knew I loved animals and that I would take good care of the pup.

I forgot to lock the shop door a few times at night but no one tried to remove anything from the shop, they may have made it into the shop but they would have been missing some body parts before they made their exit.

In 1998 I was admitted into a special Environmental Health Hospital run by Dalhousie University in Waverley Nova Scotia and since then I have been a guinea pig in an experimental program of treatments for people who are environmentally ill, the worst part of the treatments was that I would get mysterious infections after some of them. This special Environmental Hospital was set up because hundreds of doctors, nurses and other hospital staff had become environmentally ill from breathing harmful hospital exhaust fumes in the then new Camp Hill Hospital. When they built the Camp Hill Hospital someone had screwed up big time, they had designed the hospital with the exhaust vent for the hospital right next to the air intake. The new hospital opened but shortly after most of the staff including many doctors and nurses got very sick. The Workers Compensation sent the same doctor that had talked to me to investigate the hospital situation to see if there was a problem and determine if all these hospital workers had a legitimate claim. She determined that there was no problem with the hospital, she did not take the time to investigate to find out about the hospitals air exhaust and this was only brought to light after they sent a new person to investigate the situation. To my knowledge out of the hundreds who worked at that hospital and got sick only one person ever received Workers Compensation.

Since 1999 I have gradually returned to a good state of health most of the time but once in awhile I get laid up for a few weeks because of exhaustion from having to deal with stresses on my immune system from exposures to smoke, alcohol, perfumes and to food that I am allergic to.

I feel blessed that I can function at a reduced level and my wife Diane says I do alright for an old geezer. We joined the Dartmouth Volksmarch hiking club 10 years ago and we have traveled to many provinces, states in the USA and European countries to hike.

 

In the year 2000 I set up a USA business website www.atvtires.com and then a Canadian website www.atvtires.ca  and for over seven and a half years these two websites generated orders from all over North America. I shipped tires, motorcycle parts and snowmobile parts all over the USA and Canada.

I sold www.atvtires.com in September 2011.

 

I retired in early November 2007.

 

For all those years it was my pleasure to serve the motorcycle community and in my eyes it was my customers and friends that made my dream come true.

 

NEVER GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAMS

KEEP YOUR DREAMS ALIVE

 

Your health is the most important thing you have, take care of it.

 

                                Hamish Snowdon - December 24, 2008

 

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