HIGH fuel costs and traffic congestion are causing more people to purchase motorcycles for travelling short distances.
“A lot of people who are spending $400 a week on fuel for short distances are now considering buying motorcycles. They feel the money they are paying on fuel they can pay on installments on a motorcycle,” says Alan Greene, founder of Greene’s General Cycle, T&T’s premier authorised distributor for Yamaha Motors and Yamaha Store.
Greene spoke to Express Business after the grand opening of his company’s larger, newly renovated showroom, service department and warehouse, the first Yamaha retail showroom in the Caribbean, at the HE Robinson Compound, 57 Old Southern Main Rd, Valsayn Sunday afternoon. It was also the company’s 30th anniversary.
He was responding to questions on why he decided to invest more at a time of economic decline when businesses are closing down due to poor sales or struggling to stay afloat.
He said motorcycle sales have increased because of congestion on the roadways and the increases in the price of fuel in the last four years.
Another major factor in motorcycle sales and the company’s expansion was the Government’s reduction of the taxes and duties on 300ccc and smaller motorcycles two years ago.
“That caused a drastic reduction in the cost of the bike and this has been part the reason for our venturing into opening a new showroom.”
A motorcycle which was $43,000 two years ago went down to $29,000 after the reduction; one which was $35,000 to $27,000 and another which cost $17,000 to $15,000.
Greene said company promotion initiatives like off-route type activities are also playing a part in the increase in motorcycle sales.
“We have a training programme at our Yamaha Riding Academy. We are training people to ride and then they are coming back to us to purchase motorcycles.”
Many people have a fear of motorcycle accidents but this has not deterred more people from buying.
“There will always be motorcycle accidents on the road,” Greene said.
The causes of car accidents and motorcycle accidents are generally the same, Greene said.
Alcohol consumption, reckless driving by other road users and inattention to road conditions like potholes, debris, oil and other substances on the pathway are some of the major causes of motorcycle accidents, Greene added.
Present at the opening of the new showroom were several Yamaha representatives from the Caribbean and Japan.
Working his way up
Greene said he was fascinated with bicycles and motorcycles since he was a child and later dreamed of owning a company of his own.
“When I was 12, I saved my pennies and bought a used bicycle frame for a whole $5.
“After that, bit by bit, I bought part after part until I built my own bike.
“That was the sweetest ride; that feeling of the wind in your face, which was a thrill and serenity all at same time.
“I even fixed my own bicycle wheels, repairing the damaged ones and bringing them back to mint condition.”
When he was 16, a family friend asked him to overhaul his motorcycle engine.
“I did it and I saved him a ton of money. That further fueled my love of motorcycles. Eventually, I bought that bike from him, fixed it up and sold it.”
At 17, he landed a job in the service department at Laughlin and De Gannes.
After that, Greene worked in the car assembly plant at Amar Motors then returned to Laughlin as a salesman’s assistant, working with motorcycles and parts.
“All that time, I was indulging my love of tinkering with motorcycles and fixing them at home.
“I was learning more and more about the parts business and was able to buy parts with my employee discount and fix my customers’ bikes.
“By the time I was 20, I was running the Yamaha service department at Laughlin and De Gannes.
“I used their motorcycle manuals and taught myself the key aspects of servicing them.
“Later that year, we were trained by service instructors from Yamaha Japan, helping me further hone my skills.
“At 21, I said to myself, someday, I am going to give Tommy Laughlin an open cheque and I am going to buy the Yamaha distributorship.”
He also won the Motorcross novice championship race with a Yamaha YZ125 he got from Laughlin and De Gannes in 1986.
Greene said he continued working at Laughlin and De Gannes while his wife ran the bike clinic.
“In May 1990, I left Laughlin and De Gannes, and we became Greene’s General Cycle Ltd.
“We started buying used motorcycles out of Japan and continued to sell parts and bikes and to fix them.”
In 2004, the Greenes relocated to the HE Robinson compound in Curepe.
“We started off with 2500 sq ft and relentlessly focused on our goal of becoming the local Yamaha distributor.
As fate would have it, Laughlin and De Gannes decided to exit the motorcycle business and Greene was able to secure their full stock of motorcycle parts and accessories.
“In 2007, my dream of becoming the local Yamaha distributor was finally realised and we were authorised to sell motorcycles, ATVs and watercraft.”
In 2015, Greene’s received the Distributor Award from Yamaha Motors Japan.
The winner of Greene’s 30th anniversary sales promotion Sunday got a brand new YBR 125, motorcycle.