Fifty years ago my father, Russell Hayden, decided to sell Honda motorcycles from his welding shop at the corner of Lincoln and Drake. That’s where Kirby Risk is currently.
The history write-up at haydenhonda.com tells the story:
Our roots lie beyond 1965, back in the 1920s, in the building where Clyde Hayden, Kurt’s grandfather, started Hayden Welding after trying his hand at homesteading in North Dakota. That building’s long gone. It once stood in the lot where Walgreens is now.
Hayden Welding didn’t remain at that location for long, but moved to the corner of Williams and Orchard, where the parking lot across from Campbell & Fetter Bank is now. Clyde rented the space until he bought a building from George Campbell, the great-grandfather of our parts manager, Karen Richards. His first rental payments were $25 a month.
Clyde’s son Russell returned from WWII and bought the business in 1948 at the age of 21. It cost him $8500. He changed the name to Hayden and Son Welding. For nearly 20 years, he welded, repaired radiators, and worked on lawnmowers at that location.
In the late ‘50s, Russell began selling and servicing Homelite chainsaws, adding McCulloch a few years later. The McCulloch rep, Dick Strater, first introduced Russell to motorcycles. Dick and Russell were good friends and often spent many hours solving the world problems after hour at the local American Legion. Russell bought a Bridgestone, liked it, and decided he wanted to sell them. Strater, though, knew the business. “If you are serious about selling motorcycles,” he told Russell, “sell Hondas.”
Dad listened. He called Honda and became a dealer February 18, 1965.
The first year agreement with Honda recommended we sell only “small’ displacement bikes—50cc and 90cc bikes. A year later, we added 150cc and 305cc bikes. That’s all Honda made at the time.
Back in those days, I was in fifth grade. I occasionally had to push the broom around after school and try to keep the welding shop clean. After Dad started selling Hondas, my job as janitor became much more interesting.
The first bike Dad sold was a CA200 Trail 90. More information on that story next time.