SEATTLE — All five Seattle-area locations belonging to the NobleRush group of motorcycle dealerships were shuttered without notice last week, shocking employees and customers, The Seattle Times reports. The group includes BMW, Ducati, and KTM franchises in Seattle, a Ducati store in Redmond, and two multibrand dealerships in Auburn.
The group is owned by Howard Crow, a veteran Microsoft executive and known powersports enthusiast. Crow reportedly bought his first dealership in 2012 and built the group store-by-store. Husband and wife Keith and Ann Thye were president and owner, respectively, of the Seattle BMW dealership until Crow acquired it in 2015.
“I cannot stress enough how huge a hit this is for the Seattle motorcycle community,” Keith Thye told the Times. “Dealers come and go, but to have five go down all in one fell swoop is unheard of.”
Reporter Paul Roberts found no public records — neither lawsuits, liens, nor bankruptcy filings — that could explain the immediate closures. Widespread reports of unsold units being hauled away from NobleRush lots could point to another cause.
“According to several customers and former employees, one creditor was Wells Fargo Bank, which financed some of the NobleRush bike inventory as it sat on the dealership floors awaiting sale. A spokeswoman for Wells Fargo confirmed that NobleRush was a client, but declined to elaborate,” Roberts wrote Wednesday. “Several customers and former employees also said a Seattle company, Turning Point, was involved in collecting unsold bikes from some NobleRush showrooms and also resolving some customers’ inquires.”
Also stepping up are dealership managers and staff, many of whom have returned to the stores without any expectation of compensation to complete deliveries and return bikes to service customers. Angus Norton, a customer of the Redmond dealership, told Roberts two former employees met him there Sunday to deliver his $25,000 Ducati.
“The staff are all working around the clock for no pay right now, trying to help customers,” Norton said.
Originally posted on Auto Dealer Today