Chris Henderson has loved motorcycles for most of his life. He didn’t plan to work in the industry, though. He went to the University of Florida to become an anthropologist. “My dream was to become an anthropologist,” he says. “I wanted to live and study in North Africa.”
But things in college took a different turn. Chris’ girlfriend got pregnant. Both of them dropped out of college and got married. “At the same time as our daughter was born, my mother-in-law was diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer, which took her life.”
Chris went to Orlando to study motorcycle mechanics, and after graduation, returned to Jacksonville to work at a Honda dealership.
“I learned the industry from the ground up. I started as a mechanic, became service manager, then into sales, finance and insurance. I became sales manager, and at another place, a general manager I’ve spent 18 years in the industry.”
The recession hit the motorcycle business hard, and early on. “You could really feel the beginnings of the recession in 2006. I had started a company with my father, and it wasn’t producing enough revenue to support of us. I left to work as service manager at a Harley-Davidson dealership.”
When that position ended, and the industry in shambles, Chris left motorcycles for another line of work.
“I heard about an opportunity at a financial services company,” he recalls. “I gave it my best shot, got the licenses and the training … but the financial services industry didn’t suit me.”
In fact, the interlude served an important function in Chris Henderson’s life. It made him realize how much he needed to be in the motorcycle business.
“I missed everything about it. The open air, the smell of the motorcycles. I love the people in the motorcycle world. We sell toys – big toys. People are happy when they’re buying a motorcycle.”
Chris found a position with Triumph Motorcycles as a regional manager. He says the job is essentially being a consultant to the owners of dealerships.
“You spend time with the dealers, and talk about every aspect of the business,” he says. “Because I worked my way through all the jobs in a dealership, I can relate to what their problems and challenges are.”
With two kids in college, and the youngest in high school, Chris Henderson could be thinking about slowing down in a few years. But he’s not. He has another goal in mind.
“Have a good time when you go to work, and enjoy what you’re doing.”