"Anything but ordinary" is a slogan customers of Lick's Cycle might recognize, but the words are equally appropriate for describing the men behind the business. The story of how a cop and a dental tech joined forces to launch a chopper parts company is interesting, and comes with a gut check that puts everything into perspective.
CC: Tell us about your friendship and business partnership. When did it start, what was your motivation, who does what, et cetera.
AJ: The idea of starting a parts company for the average motorcycle guy came to me when I was a dental technician in Miami, Florida. I owned a Sportster in ‘89, and back then Sportsters were Harley’s bastard child. My wife at the time discouraged me from trying anything that might compromise our ability to put food on the table, so I toed the line. Years later my dad moved to Mass after my mom passed away, and over time I realized it was a really nice place. Laid-back and quiet—nothing like south Florida. I moved up solo to get work, and told my wife that she and the kids could come up after I got settled. That’s when I met Todd. He was a partner in a dental lab, and hired me on the spot. Todd eventually got out of the dental business, so I took over the lab and we remained friends. In the mean time, my wife wasn’t feeling the whole Mass thing, so she took the kids and moved back to Florida. I loved Massachusetts, so we went through an ugly divorce. Really nasty and mean—from her end, anyway. When the dust settled I met and married my current wife, Lisa. She really supported our idea to start a chopper parts company, and Todd and I launched Lick’s in 2002.
Todd: AJ makes it sound easy. At first we struggled to identify a business that would provide us a living and still be something that was interesting and fun. We looked at franchises, retail stores, service businesses, none of which fit the bill. When we ran out of traditional ideas, we started to focus on our hobbies. AJ said, “We both like motorcycles—too bad we couldn’t just make a living doing cool motorcycle stuff.” That’s when I looked at him and said, “Why can’t we?” We literally started Lick’s Cycle on a milk crate in AJ’s garage. After purchasing three brand-new Sporties at a local H-D dealership and customizing them for re-sale, we had a “motorcycle business.” In the process of customizing these bikes, we decided that building bikes was fun, but that coming up with cool parts was a rush.
CC: What are your individual responsibilities at Lick’s, and who else is in your crew?
AJ: Lick’s is a small operation, so I do a little bit of everything: wrenching, R&D, product design, pick, pack and ship, inventory management… basically everything but bookkeeping and web design. That’s Todd’s job.
Todd: I handle online and print marketing and promotion, website design/maintenance and all that damn accounting. Our friend Scotty is the main wrench, and he helps me with Internet-related stuff. Donna is our bookkeeping guru and makes sure the numbers add up. The pay is… well, it’s non-existent, but their dedication is legendary and we couldn’t be in business without them.
CC: What bikes are in your current stable of runners and projects?
Todd: AJ owns a 2006 Triumph Bonnie bobber and a ’72 shovel project. I ride an ’07 Sporty that doubles as a test mule and fitment guinea pig for a lot of the parts we are developing.
AJ: We've also got an Enfield shop project, and Scotty uses the shop to work on his Dyna.
Vital stats and background info:
Todd: I’m 39 years old. After I got my Master’s degree in law enforcement I was a cop. Currently I do fraud investigation for an insurance company. I was also the GM at a local motorsports dealership, and I did web development for a big online race parts retailer. Lick’s isn’t my full-time job. We’re still young, so we try to run it lean and mean.
AJ: I turned 50 this year. I was a dental technician and lab owner/operator for more than 20 years. I built crowns and bridgework, caps, veneers, you name it. When I lived in Florida I used to ride dirt bikes on MX trails we called “the Ponderosa.” They dozed those berms and whoop-de-doos decades ago to build the new Dolphins stadium, but back in the day it was a blast.
CC: AJ, you’ve hinted to me in the past that Lick’s success is a story of triumph over heartbreaking adversity. Are you willing to share that story?
AJ: As I mentioned, my wife Lisa has been super supportive from the beginning. That’s not the half of it. The idea for Lick’s was taking shape when Lisa was pregnant with our daughter. Lacey Rae was due December 22, 2002, but complications during the pregnancy took our baby at the time of delivery. We were heartbroken. It was at this point Lisa looked at me and said, “Life is too short—you need to do what you love and whatever makes you happy.” It was a sad awaking, but Lisa’s support gave me the strength I needed to pursue our dream.
CC: What’s the Lick’s Cycle Cycle philosophy and mission statement?
AJ: Lick’s is here to offer the best parts and customer service possible to guys just like us: passionate working-class riders and garage builders. “Anything but ordinary” has been our tag since day one, and it’s how we do business.
Todd: Our passion has always been unique custom parts for the average guy. Simple, hard-core, cool and affordable has always been our niche. Perhaps even more important than the product line itself is the excellent customer service we try to provide for everyone, every day.
To see Lick's complete range of custom leather goods, shorty shocks, pinned helmets and other merch, go here.