Chesterton Tribune



Curly's Custom Cycles shines nationwide spotlight on Chesterton

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You pretty well know you’re living the dream, as the phrase goes, when you find yourself on the cover of a national magazine.

That is true for a Chesterton business which is featured on the front of this month’s “American Bagger,” a well-known publication among motorcycle enthusiasts in the U.S.

It’s not the cover of Time Magazine, but for shop owner Lance “Curly” Waugaman it might as well be.

Waugaman has been a hands-on grease monkey ever since he was a kid in Lake Station working on builds for motorcycles and muscle cars. His passion for the industry came from his late father Ralph and growing up around cars and Harley-Davidson’s in their garage.

Waugaman worked as a millwright for U.S. Steel for 11 years until he got the encouragement from his wife Lisa to pursue his passion as a business.

“I never could let anything alone when it came to working on bikes so I said, ‘Let’s open a shop!’” he said.

Curly’s Custom Cycles debuted at 1720 Wood Street in Chesterton in 2008 and has slowly built a word-of-mouth buzz from displaying their custom bike builds at high-profile shows and events such as Ohio Bike Week in Sandusky, Daytona Bike Week, and Sturgis Bike Week in South Dakota. Their reputation is quickly gaining momentum.

The business has won numerous Best in Show awards and will have been featured in 10 different magazine publications by the end of this year with the first in 2011. In addition to gracing the cover of American Bagger, Curly’s was featured prominently in October’s issue of Region Rides as well as appearances in Road Iron and Urban Bagger, bringing some notice to Chesterton.

Despite all the recognition, Waugaman remains humble, attributing the success to his customers, who often become friends, and a small team of five employees. The shop believes in treating customers fairly and taking good care of their equipment, Waugaman said.

By practicing better customer service and building up a name, Curly’s general manager Rob Bartley said the shop is seeing increasingly more clientele from out-of-state, even from as far away as Alabama. About a third of the build work that Curly’s does is from non-local customers. Many come from areas around Chicago and often stop in Chesterton or Porter restaurants and stores, giving the local economy a lift.

When asked further what makes Curly’s a cut above other bike shops, Waugaman and Bartley both said they believe it’s because they are a full-service “one-stop shop,” offering more than custom paint jobs, fabrications and builds. They also handle the basics Š oil changes, tire changes, motor work, part replacements and tune-ups.

Shopping at Curly’s is handy for riders since it is an authorized dealer with most major part companies in the industry.

“There’s no job too small or too big for us to do. We have a crew to do both sides of the business,” Bartley said.

“People don’t have to go to six different stops. They can just come here and get all they need done in one trip,” Waugaman added.

Curly’s newest enterprise is the online store at which kicked off last month and sells an array of hoodies, hats, T-shirts and other apparel, along with an assortment of merchandise, parts and services.

With business booming, Curly’s is searching for a bigger facility to work in. Waugaman said he hopes to stay in Chesterton but will need to consider what options best fit his business.

If the expansion comes, Waugaman said he hopes to branch out into customizing muscle cars.

“It’s kind of like a Cinderella story,” said Waugaman. “It’s an honor to do the work we are doing but it’s the customers we owe that honor to, trusting us with their babies.”

Curly’s Custom Cycles can be contacted at 395-8457 and is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and closed on Sundays.



Posted 11/29/2013