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BUYING A SMALL BUSINESS

Business for Sale: A Motorcycle-Seat Manufacturer
 


SITTING PRETTY: In addition to seats, Corbin-Pacific makes a line of bike-inspired furniture.

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Mike Corbin sold his first handmade motorcycle seat, for $40, back in 1965 at a rally in Grafton, New Hampshire. He went on to found Corbin-Pacific, which last year sold more than $14 million worth of custom seats, saddlebags, fenders, and other gear to bike enthusiasts and dealers. Corbin, 65, has had a good run, and now he is ready to cash out.

The company, which employs 115, operates from an 82,000-square-foot facility in Hollister, California, the setting for the prototypical biker film The Wild One, starring Marlon Brando. The 7-acre plot of land on which the plant sits is also for sale, for $7.2 million, as is an 11,000-square-foot showroom in Daytona Beach, Florida, for $3.2 million.

The purchase price includes 1,500 seat molds and 82 patents and copyrights. About 75 percent of Corbin-Pacific's sales are straight to consumers; the rest are to dealers that sell BMW, Ducati, Harley-Davidson, and other brands. Corbin-Pacific's image also gets a boost from such high-profile customers as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jay Leno.

Corbin is hoping for a buyer who loves bikes as much as he does. He holds the land-speed record for an electric two-wheeler: 165 miles per hour, set in 1974. Says Corbin: "You can't be successful in the motorcycle business unless you love these machines and the people that ride them."

Company Dashboard

Price Rationale: Corbin and his broker based the price on the value of the company's seat molds, which they set at $9 million.

The Pros: The business employs six managers, each with at least 10 years of experience working for Corbin-Pacific. The company has a solid reputation for design and quality, and its most popular seats are patented. Sales of motorcycles have surpassed one million for each of the past six years.

The Cons: Production slowed and profits plummeted last year after undocumented workers were let go and new workers were hired and trained.

The Bottom Line: Cash flow has taken a hit in recent years, perhaps arguing for a lower price. Still, Corbin-Pacific has a strong brand with devoted customers. The best fit might be an existing manufacturer that could extend to its products the value of the brand.

Inc. has no stake in the sale of the business featured. The magazine does not certify the accuracy of financial or other information provided by the seller. Inquiries should be directed to Jeff Beland at Business Team at jbeland@business-team.com or 310-539-8300. Inc. also publishes paid business listings in the back of the magazine.

Last updated: May 1, 2009

DARREN DAHL is a contributing editor at Inc. Magazine, which he has written for since 2004. He also works as a collaborative writer and editor and has partnered with several high-profile authors. Dahl lives in Asheville, NC.




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