CASCADE TWP. — The group behind the revival of high-performance brand Buell Motorcycle Co. continues to build out its team, add sales infrastructure and invest in new product engineering and development in West Michigan.
CEO Bill Melvin, who led an effort to secure the rights to the Buell Motorcycle name in 2020, said the company has made “significant” strides, including relaunching production last year for the iconic American superbike brand.
As the team continues to expand its supply base and add to its experienced leadership staff, Melvin also formed Buell Motor Holdings Inc. to seek out additional capital. The entity plans to raise up to $6 million, according to federal securities filing earlier this month, which indicated the company had already netted nearly $1.7 million from seven investors. Melvin said the group currently has secured more than $4 million in commitments.
The “friends and family round” will allow Buell to further invest in its products and sales operations, as well as continue new product development, according to Melvin.
“We’re super fortunate to have a great group of business people and investors who are joining us to support the continual growth of a global brand here in West Michigan,” Melvin told MiBiz. “This has solidified great support from a group of West Michigan investors who are supportive of us growing this company and supporting West Michigan.”
Grand Rapids-based Miller, Johnson, Snell & Cummiskey PLC advised Buell Motor Holdings in the fundraising round.
Last year, Buell Motorcycles restarted production of the Buell Hammerhead 1190 superbike after previously maintaining low-volume production under the EBR Motorcycles name. It also began offering an online ordering system under the Buellvana moniker.
Additionally, Melvin tapped three veterans of the automotive and powersports industries — Chief Product Engineer Dean Guard, formerly of General Motors powertrain development; Chief Technical Officer Tim Holland, formerly of Lotus Engineering; and Chief of Products, Development & Strategy Steve Laham, formerly of Sea-Doo and BRP — to head up product engineering and development for the company.
“We have products that compete on a high level with the likes of Ducati, KTM and Triumph,” Melvin said. “With that, we’re building out our supply chain and working with companies in Michigan to do that.”
Melvin said he and his team plan to be long-term operators of the company, which was originally founded by motorcycle racer Erik Buell in 1983 and formerly owned by Milwaukee, Wis.-based Harley-Davidson Inc. (NYSE: HOG).
Melvin’s other venture, Liquid Asset Partners, originally acquired the assets of Erik Buell Racing LLC out of receivership in 2016 and later spun off the company as a standalone entity.
As an indication of where the company is headed, Buell Motorcycles in March as part of Daytona Bike Week unveiled two new prototypes, the 185-hp SuperTouring model and the Baja DR dirt bike, which were slated to enter production this winter and next year, respectively. The Baja DR also showcases a new platform for the company, and marks its return to the off-road segment of the market.
Buell worked with Grand Rapids-based designer Joey Ruiter on the SuperTouring concept, as MiBiz previously reported.
Melvin said the Hammerhead 1190 and 1190SX, along with the prototypes, have continued to garner industry attention and positive momentum for the company. Despite some macroeconomic headwinds, Melvin is bullish on the future for Buell as it begins to reestablish itself in the marketplace.
“Right now is a great time for us with our relaunch,” he said. “As our products are going back into the market, we will take market share in certain lines from our competitors.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect that Buell Motor Holdings has secured more than $4 million in commitments as of Dec. 9, according to CEO Bill Melvin.