2018 – What to expect from HHB

A new year has landed upon us, and its gonna be a good one!


Looking back over the years, HHB has been a pretty intense roller coaster.  Starting in the basement of a rental house as a pipe dream, and growing into a success.  We moved from Basement to an Old Cool Industrial place in the River Arts District, we survived floods, theft, and the occasional stray dog down there, only to succumb to never ending rent increases.  Rent increase of over 1300% a month in just 3 years, so we set off to find another suitable place, preferably on higher ground.

We landed in Leicester NC in a “not so cool, but secure and boring” metal building – it was larger than needed, but no one in the area wanted a “motorcycle shop” – so the picking’s were limited…  Fast forward a few years, and rent there was on a never ending increase as well.  Those increases meant less pay for the folks working with us, and more stress to keep the lights on.   Not so fun anymore, so I moved the shop back home and I’m loving it!

Most folks following us on Instagram and Facebook know I took about a month off from HHB entirely over the holiday season.  It was much needed, and I used that time to focus on visiting some friends, working on personal projects, and spending quality time with my family.  It went by WAY too quickly.   It also gave me time to re-evaluate what I want from this business.

At one point, HHB was 7 strong – with folks handling production, shipping, inventory control, and all of that.  With that came alot of stress and responsibility that really took the fun out of the job – and I’ve always said, “When this isn’t fun anymore, I’ll go do something else” – but things aren’t always that simple.   So we managed it, the fun slipped away, and it became more of a “job” – which isn’t such a bad thing, but the fun was going away.  Moving the shop home meant losing a lot of space – and it has been just Tevan and I since mid 2015.   Tevan has been with HHB since the beginning practically, and while things have been a bit slow recently, we have made sure to help him find work that keeps the bills paid.   Tevan is still around after hours, so don’t sweat it!

So now HHB is just Hugh….  I personally answer every email, every message on social media, I do all of the manufacturing, shipping, boxing, inventory control, invoicing, materials orders, etc…   I want to keep this fun, and remain focused on high quality products – just like always.   I’ll be cutting out Engine Builds, we’ve trained Dan at Pandemonium Customs to handle those – and his work is fantastic.  I don’t make any kickdowns, its just friends helping friends.   Cutting back on man power also means less time for fabrication, frame work, etc…  I’m still doing Crank/Cam rebuilds for the rephase – so keep those coming!

What will I be focusing on?  Our innovative product line, its what I enjoy the most…  Offering products that make sense for both home and pro builders, which help ya’ll create some kickass machines!   And while the rumor mill about me playing with a Buell and a Sportster are true (I’ve owned about 7 Buells over the years, and 1/2 a dozen sporties – this is nothing new), you can still expect me to keep the love for the XS650 alive!  Sure, I’ll be adding some products to our lineup for the XL Series of Harley Davidsons, but don’t think I’ve jumped ship like so many others.  My first true 2 wheeled love was the XS650, and you never forget or stopping loving your first.

The downsize in labor force to just myself will bring a few other changes in how we operate as well.   I’ll do my best to answer emails in a timely manner of course, but if you email me on a Thursday afternoon, I may not get back to ya until Monday.  I spend Fridays and the weekends with my family.  This also means that inventory may come and go faster than I can keep up at times.  I’ll also be shipping a few times a week, opposed to daily.   So, if you want  a product we offer, make sure you buy it when it’s in stock, because if you wait until the week before your big build is due to show,  you might just be out of luck.

Now, if you need faster shipping times, make sure to checkout Lowbrow Customs, MikesXS and TCBros – they carry alot of our popular products and ship very very fast!  They are great folks to work with as both a supplier and a customer.   I personally have no desire to become Amazon or Ebay, the “Gotta have it now” retail mentality have put a tremendous amount of stress on the small folks like HHB, and it’s just not worth the stress in my opinion….

I’m planning on putting the fun back into this gig, and it should carry over to you folks as well.  Remember, these are old bikes, and they should be fun.  Nothing on them is a dire emergency, and nothing needs to happen yesterday on them.  Like my Gpa always said, “Nothing good happens if you rush it” – so keep that in mind as you build your ride.    If you have an emergency, dial 911.

And as much as I love hearing from you folks, if you cold hold off on the “Hey Hugh, Would this Round and Black Tire look good on my bike?” emails, we’ll all get along just fine – hah…  On a more serious note, I don’t mind answering questions about your build, if you get stumped, etc…  Its what I’m good at…  I will ask you what manual you are using, and if you don’t have one, I might give ya the “what fer” about it…  A solid 95% of the questions I spend my day on can be answered in the manual, or just using the good ol’ google machine…

Well, that about wraps it up for this post folks…  I’m looking forward to spending more time in the shop, and perhaps a bit less screen time.  Make sure to keep up with HHB on the Instagram and Facebook pages – because I’ve got a list 1/2 a mile long for new product ideas, its just a matter of spending my time in the best way to get them to you folks.

Kickass in 2018, Ride Bikes, Have Fun, Create Memories…

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Hugh Owings
Hugh’s HandBuilt

7 replies
  1. Rick Strassburg
    Rick Strassburg says:

    Just keep on doing what makes you happy. That’s always going to trickle down. I’ve face palmed myself several times when I saw some of your stuff. I’m still full of questions. I’ll keep asking as many as I can.

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