MR Interviews Paul Stannard of Strictly Hodaka
By Mark Jarecki
Do you remember your first thoughts on and when did you decide to create Strictly Hodaka?-
Strictly Hodaka seemed to just evolve to where it is today. I got back into Hodaka's in 1987 after having a Dirt Squirt as a young boy. In 1987 there was Heid's Hodaka and E&K cycle that were out there offering parts and help. There were other dealers also like Harlan Diem, Phillipe services and a couple others but I felt comfortable with E&K and Heids. Saying that I also wanted to have a few different models so to buy parts for all the bikes got to be expensive and sometimes parts were impossible to find. However it happened word got out that there is this guy in R.I. who sometimes sells parts and bikes. I was only doing this to support my hobby which took me away from my work at our deli and sausage company. Probably in 1991 is when I was running out of space and decided to take it seriously enough to devote more time and money to the cause. I truly never intended for it to become a business only an out of control hobby. By 1993 both Patti and my friend Greg Bastek convinced me to make it a business and take Hodaka into the future if there was to be a future. I remember having many many people ask me when this "vintage Hodaka thing" was going to end ? Now I guess we all know that it will never end only live on forever !
|1999 Mid Ohio Race Team
Who was the most influential person or persons in making Strictly Hodaka a reality?
From the beginning that was and still is Patti and Greg ! Saying that Strictly Hodaka is evolving and growing all the time. I am truly blessed to have the best people (friends) that surround me. The people I work with all have their place or part in what Strictly Hodaka is. I know it may sound corny but it is the absolute truth that this is a total team effort. I may be the front man with Strictly Hodaka but there are many many people that are involved in the decisions that I may make. Harry Taylor, Roger Lippiatt and George Cone are involved every step of the way in the design of any new mechanical items we are working on. Bob Harmony handles anything to do with metals, rubber or plastic parts. Steve Simmons from Rocky Mountain Hodaka helps in becoming a partner in some new items to help me offset costs. We take this so seriously that both Roger and I get on a plane in a little over a week to meet with some of our suppliers to be able to get the parts right.
This is a total team effort !
|Randy Smith and Paul
What was the biggest obstacle in creating Strictly Hodaka?
Time. This still is my biggest obstacle to date. Years ago I had the deli and sausage company to do for a living. Patti and I would return calls after dinner and box orders almost every night until 11:00pm. Now I do it full time since we sold both the other business's but there still are not enough hours in the day. I do it mostly alone except for Amy or Patti doing the invoices. I find it hard to manage my time properly to get to all the emails (approx. 30-40 a day) or all the phone calls (30 or 40 a day also) and get orders boxed and shipped. If I go out of town for a day or two to buy bikes or parts I come back overwhelmed with calls and emails. Whenever I can get this fixed I should be good to go from then on. We just bought a laptop computer so while I am on the road at least I can do my emails this should help a bunch.
What Hodaka part was the most expensive or difficult to re-manufacture and why?
That really is hard to say at this time. I look at things kind of backwards. What I mean is some suppliers ask me what I am looking to pay for a part. My response is please let me know what the part will cost based on whatever guess I can give them for units per year. I want my suppliers to be able to make money and we want to be able to put these parts out affordably. If the part is not affordable and Hodaka parts in general become to expensive then Hodaka will wither away in my opinion. I like to pay tooling fee's. This means I own the tool and the supplier will not become my competitor someday. Tank badges may be a good example of an expensive part. Tooling was over $1000.00 and we needed to make minimum of 1000 units. Saying that there are two different style tank badges. I could not make only one style and not the other so of course we made both. The tank badges took over two years to get it right. I was frustrated with how long it took and even looked to different suppliers but now am very proud of what we have made and now offer for $ 40.00 a pair. We are starting on the stainless fenders in the spring. This also will be big tooling $$$ and we need to make 500 minimum of whatever fender size we want. But I will be able to retail them for under $ 50.00 if everything goes as planned. I would guess and say we have about $ 60,000.00 in just tooling costs out there right now and this does not include the costs per unit. I am lucky enough that the monies generated go right back into building more and new parts to help keep the bikes alive. People always call and ask for tanks and fenders. I have sold most of the good ones we had at this time. My focus right now is on the parts that Roger, George or Harry need to keep the bikes running. Things most people do not think about until the bike will not run like kick shafts, shift shafts, ball receivers, rod kits, airboots etc..
How and when did you learn of Harry Taylor and how did you meet him?
Harry who ? I learned of Harry Taylor I would say in 1987 when I got back into Hodaka's and started reading the Resonator magazine and such. During the next few years I had met over the phone Ed Chesnut, Marv Foster, Leon Wilbanks, Chuck Swanson and the 1st guy I met was my buddy Jim Gentry (Sugar Bear). I knew how to reach Harry but did not just want to call and bug him. I wish now that I had bugged him earlier but you can't change what was. Anyway I believe it was the fall of 1998 when I received a call from a guy named Harry Taylor looking for Dirt Squirt 80 parts. His phone number was a Oregon number and I though is this really him. When I called him I asked "are you THE Harry Taylor ?" He laughed and said it depends on what you mean by THE. The parts he was looking for were to finish the prototype Dirt Squirt 80 that his son Bret owned. Bret had passed away a few years before and Harry was finding the courage to finish the bike. I had most of the pieces he needed so he was able to get the bike up and running. He did it well enough that his daughter Holly won the Woman's race at this past years Hodaka Day's on that very bike ! You go Holly !! Harry Taylor to most people is a legend or some sort of icon. To me Harry is more of a father to me than my own father. Harry is my best friend and confidant. There is hardly a day that goes by that he and I do not speak to each other. Just plain ol' Harry.
One funny story is that once we became friends over the phone he asked me to come out to Oregon because James Rozee has this Hodaka show over in Corvallis every year during the Oregon Vintage bike days. He said why don't you fly out and we will go over together and look around. I said that sounds good so let's do it. The next day I talked to him and we decided to maybe get some of the original Pabatco guys together also. That was 1999 and the beginning of what now is Hodaka Day's !!
If you had to choose just one, what Hodaka would you own and why.
Ouch that's a hard one. They all have a special spot in my heart. I guess it would be the Thunderdog (250ED). I ride mine pretty well in the woods in Vermont. I have brought it to Athena and even won a silver medal (with Greg Bastek on one also) at the 30th ISDT reunion ride. It is a heavy bike but I like the power and how well it handles. Greg and I beat the snot out of them at the ISDT and we laughed the entire time !
What sparked your interest in vintage racing and when?
I was always a woods rider. I never raced until two years ago. My 1st race was at Curtis Harper's in Greenwood, MO.
I always enjoyed watching Greg race but he always made it look easy. My jobs in the past never allowed for me to take weekends off. We had a huge catering business in the deli and everyone always had parties on weekends. Once we sold the business's this freed my time up to at least look the part of the racer. I will never be good but I have fun. I think starting racing at 45 years old was pretty neat. Heck Harry did not start until he was 37 years old. Greg Bastek is the one though that showed me the ropes and who I ride with most. Even to this day when we are just chasing each other up in the mountains of Vermont he shows me things to get me to be a little bit better every time. It takes practice and patience ! One of the best things I have done though is take the Jim Pomeroy school. Jimmy and I are friends but he pushed my butt hard at his class. I was so tired but I learned sooooo much. Well worth the money if anyone is serious!
A young Paul on his Honda
What’s your earliest recollection of motorcycling?
My grandfather bought me a minibike in 1967 ? We had 15 acres of land behind our house which allowed me to make trails in the woods. In 1969 I received a Honda trail 50 and started my woods riding in Vermont where I still continue to ride with my family and friends.
What area of M/C repair do you feel the most confident in?
I do not feel confident in any of it anymore. I used to be fair at working on the bikes and I did some pretty good restorations. What used to be my hobby has turned out to be a "job". That is the hardest part of all this is that I have become a prisoner in a sense of my own doing. I always wanted to see Hodaka in this light but did not see the personal sacrifice that went with the job. I have Roger Lippiatt, George Cone and Harry Taylor that bail me out on my lack of mechanical talents. Roger maintains all of my bikes for me and will not take a dime from me to do so.
What do you like to do to relax?
I used to hunt and fish. I have not picked up a shotgun to hunt in eight years and have not fished for trout in about that same amount of time. What I have right now is our home in Vermont. We have enough land that I can ride a motorcycle or snowmobile whenever I want. I just love to cut down trees or mow the fields on my old 1957 Ford model 800 tractor. In Vermont I feel at peace. I can just sit on the deck and watch the stars and let time go by slowly. I do want to go fishing in Montana with Greg sometime in the next few years. I guess just being outdoors is relaxing to me.
How do you prepare for a race?
I do not like to think about the race to much prior to racing. I have a tendency to build things up in my head and when I do that I beat myself. My best preparation is getting on whichever bike I am going to be racing and just riding it hard. I have a sort of track laid out in Vermont and will just ride and ride and ride to practice. I think to more comfortable and natural you are on a bike to easier and better you will ride. I have to be as "one" with the bike. I also get mad on the start line this has helped me get into the 1st turn sometimes pretty well. My 1st two moto's in MO. I was so excited that I forgot to put my goggles on. Bastek still has not let me forget that one !
|Paul's Kids, Chris (left) and Amy #4 at Hodaka Days in Athena Oregon 2004
What CD is in your player right now and what types of music do you like best?
Right now Led Zepplin. I also like Johnny Rivers, Allman Brothers, Grand Funk Railroad, Bad company. Am I dating myself ?
Who were your hero’s growing up as a kid?
From a personal standpoint my Grandfather ! When he was dieing of cancer I had the chance to tell him so.
Motorcycle wise I would say Jack Penton. Jack is a couple years older than me and was doing the type of riding that I liked (woods riding).
Last but not least, where do you see Paul and Strictly Hodaka going in the future?
Good question ! I believe that Strictly Hodaka will always be around as long as Hodaka's need help. This has been not a business as much as a true passion. I love what we have done and really believe that we have made a difference. The difference has been that it is not about the money. I think this is important doing something you love not what you need to do. I do not see an end in sight to what can be. The sky is the limit as long as you can dream. There are some very good people out there very capable of taking the ball and running with it.
As for Paul I have to spend more time with my wife and myself. I have seen many guys get into this business and get so focused that one day they wake up and there is no wife or kids around. It can happen easily when you become to engulfed with what you may think is important but truly does not matter. I would love to pull away for a month or more just to be able to play. I know that cannot happen at this time but maybe someday.