DOUG DOUGLAS MOTORCYCLES IS THE KIND OF PLACE that many people picture when they close their eyes and think of a motorcycle shop.
There’s grease on the walls and a weedy motorcycle graveyard out back. There’s solvent in the air and bitsa bikes snuck into every nook and cranny. Old signs line the service area, and boxes of parts from brands gone by are stuck here and there. It smells like work and looks like time.
But mostly, there’s a sense of history that oozes from the 47-year-old shop that sits at the base of Southern California’s San Bernardino Mountains, in the city of the same name. It’s the thing that makes this Triumph and Royal Enfield shop feel more like a clubhouse and less like a dealership. It’s this history and how it feels that co-owners Art Guilfoil and Danny Manthis recognized and hope to preserve while building a modern business.
“We’re operating on a legacy, absolutely we are,” says Guilfoil, 41, who along with Manthis partnered up to buy the business from original owner Thomas “Doug” Douglas. “That’s one of the things we’ve tried to capitalize on, maintaining that legacy. That’s something very important to us.”
Guilfoil realized early on that he could preserve what Douglas started — in a building that used to house an auto bumper manufacturing business — but update it to be clean, interesting and comfortable. “I found over time that I don’t have to completely eliminate the old; I have to change the perception of the old.”
This means a balancing act of striving for high CSI scores while preserving the shop’s patina, and employing social media to market beyond the area’s depressed economy by highlighting the store’s trustworthiness as a time-tested place for honest deals and solid service work. And when you’re operating in the shadow of two of the biggest dealerships in the state — Bert’s Mega Mall and Chaparral — it’s important to know that customer satisfaction doesn’t always mean having the shiniest store.
Guilfoil and Manthis both agree that it’s not money — or the lack thereof — that’s preventing them from going big with the store. They do what they do because no one else is doing it in their area. And it works. A handful of online reviews for Doug Douglas praise its customer service and the personal attention offered by the store’s small staff.