Built to order

Apollo Choppers a dream come true
for business partners

Winn, Hysinger cater to any taste
when it comes to motorcycles

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

EMINENCE, Ky. (October 2007) – Fate played an unexpected hand in the meeting of Jim Winn and Bill Hysinger. The two have been business partners for little more than a year but have struck up a chemistry that has turned dreams into reality.
The pair united to further Winn’s business venture, Apollo Choppers LLC, which builds custom motorcycles. Winn’s fascination with motorcycles began more than 40 years ago. “I’ve been building motorcycles since I was 15 years old,” he said.
He’s also been building bikes for lots of other people as well. After retiring from his own engineering business, BEC International in 2003, Winn decided he wasn’t “cut out to be retired.” He put more time into what had been his own part-time custom motorcycle business in Buckner, which he had opened in 1992.

Jim Winn & Bill Hysinger

Photo by Helen McKinney

From left, partners Jim Winn and
Bill Hysinger pose at their Apollo
Choppers shop in Eminence, Ky.,
where Winn builds customized
motorcycles for clients.

In September 2006, he moved his manufacturing business from Buckner to the former Brunswick plant in Eminence, Ky. Motorcycles are built from the ground up at a rate of 50 bikes per year.
As production techniques improve, he would like to see 300 choppers built annually. All work is done in-house, said Winn, 60. All sheet metal production, framework, painting and bodywork are done by skilled professionals who strive to give each customer just what they order.
Clientele can feel safe that if they pull up to another chopper, theirs will not be a duplicate, said Hysinger. Each chopper is custom painted so that there is not another one on the market with the same color scheme. “They don’t want to see one just like theirs.”
Apollo has obtained federal and state emissions and safety certifications. They are a National Auto Dealers Association listed manufacturer.
Apollo Choppers produces high end and middle level priced models. Prices range from $25,000 to $40,000, said Winn.
When shopping for a custom built motorcycle, most people look for a nice design, a quality they would also look for when buying a car, he said. They study wheels, exhaust, price and the overall look, he asserted.
“American riders want something that makes them stand out as an individual,” said Winn, who was raised in the Pacific Northwest. “They like to be different and want a well built motorcycle.”
Hysinger sees this venture with Winn as a prime opportunity to someday rival Harley-Davidson. “I look for opportunities,” said the entrepreneur, having struck gold when he found Apollo Choppers.
Hysinger has another tie to Henry County in that he formed a partnership with Our Best Restaurant owner Kenny Way to franchise the Smithfield-based restaurant. Chains are appearing in Jeffersonville and on Preston Highway in Louisville.
Hysinger also has part ownership in several Hooters restaurants. He developed Cardinal Club Estates golf course communities, Marriott Hotels in downtown Louisville and BC Roosters, a sports bar concept chain based in Dayton, Ohio. Hysinger also has housing developments in Trimble County and Louisville, and is the owner of Richwood Plantation Bed and Breakfast on the Ohio River in Milton.
Based on a phone call from former Eminence Mayor Doug Bates, Hysinger decided to put his money and his tenacity into the business. He had purchased the former Brunswick Bowling products plant on Ballardsville Road in Eminence as he began to discuss business plans with Winn.
When Hysinger purchased the building, Bates said he wished Hysinger would bring in a business that would create jobs within the county, said Hysinger. He knew Winn’s goal was to expand the business, and he could see Winn “was meticulous in what he was building.”
Hysinger currently rents space inside the 200,000-square-foot facility to several companies, including the Budd Company and Eminence Speaker. This leaves Apollo Choppers with 40,000 square feet, plenty of room for welding, painting, and a graphics department.
With soaring gas prices, Hysinger said this venture “was a good opportunity to break into the market.” Both men are concerned with producing a quality product that will sell itself.
They are searching for dealers in Cincinnati, Nashville, Indianapolis and Knoxville. Currently, Tom Stinnett RV in Clarksville, Ind., is their master dealer for the region. Hysinger has known Stinnett for a long time and because of this was able to negotiate a deal to sell Apollo Choppers through Stinnett.
He has always possessed a love of motorcycles, which he shares with sons, Lyle and Lee, who help run the business. They have already begun production of the 2008 series choppers.
Winn said the business is unique in that it is the only one of its kind in this part of the country. “Our clientele likes this idea.”

• For more information, visit: www.apollochoppers.com or call (502) 845-9596.

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