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I'm a custom motorcycle builder
Coolest Jobs in America

“I’m a custom motorcycle builder”

We interviewed Scott Halblieb, owner of H Garage in Louisville, Kentucky. Scott shares his story with us, and talks about the business of custom motorcycle fabrication.

Scott Halblieb: Custom Motorcycle Builder

This is the story of Scott Halblieb, and how he came to start a business. Scott is the owner and founder of H Garage in Louisville, Kentucky.

Pay attention to how Scott talks about leaving his corporate job, opening his retirement account, then using the money to fund his business. It was a decision he didn’t take lightly.

Ultimately, he realized that using his 401k money to fund his business was his best path forward.

“I mean, I love what I do,” he says. “Or, I wouldn’t have taken such so much risk to do it.” Calculated risks are part of entrepreneurship.

Watch more from Scott Halblieb, who has one of the Coolest Jobs in America.

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Episode transcript

[00:01] I love coming in and bending metal. I mean I love that whole design and fabrication hands on work.

[00:11] My name is Scott Halblieb. I’m the owner of H Garage and I am a custom motorcycle builder and fabricator.

[00:18] Oh, I think I was all over the place trying to figure out what I wanted to do when I grew up. I mean I always drew when I was young and then I just kind of followed that and I thought if anything, I would be a fine artists kind of guy.

[00:30] I got invited by a friend to a local vintage motorcycle night, really liked the old motorcycles and so I decided to buy me a motorcycle.

[00:39] The whole plan was make it a complete custom and so I spent a few days for the better part of a year customizing the bike.

[00:47] I had my nice corporate paying job. I bought the bike free and clear and then I just put money towards it. As the project progressed, all of that was out of pocket.

[01:00] I sold it and just kind of kept doing that. At the time, I had a full time job so it was kind of a hobby.

[01:06] What kind of drew me in more was that I got some really good press off of the first couple of bikes. I mean that kind of stuff motivates you to kind of spend more time on it and then they were easy to sell.

[01:17] I am credit free and I’ve told myself that that was the last thing I would do. I would not assume any sort of credit to do this.

[01:26] If I couldn’t make it work with the money that I have, then I would have to throw in the towel, admit that it just wasn’t meant to be.

[01:37] I had a decent 401K when I left corporate world. I did this for a couple years and then I got to a point where I was like I either have to go back to 9 to 5 or is it worthwhile, is there enough of a possibility of this being successful that it would behoove me to cash in my 401K and kind of invest in what I’m doing, whether it be investing in the business or cost, marketing, taking bikes to shows.

[02:09] It’s amazing how fast you can just go through that kind of money when you’re kind of self-employed. You find you need to get a business loan.

[02:18] The process of cashing the 401K was gut wrenching, kind of scary nervousness. I didn’t want to do that. I mean it really took me years to build up my retirement money so I thought long and hard before I did it. But at the same time, it was kind of the make or break point.

[02:40] I mean I love what I do or I wouldn’t have taken such so much risk to do it.

[02:45] Say we took today for example, I’ve got a gamma XX650 on the list and I’ve got an older Harley on the list and I’m actually in the design mode on both them to some extent.

[03:00] There’s always research on the project. I mean if we’re doing a full custom, even a mild custom, there’s always research. If we’re changing the ride height… There’s a ton of R&D in every project.

[03:12] We are just taking something that in start form that looks this way and when you’re done with it, people may not even know what it started out as.