Skidmark Garage Thankful for Participation

Skidmark Garage

Meet the Builders

Many months ago, Tom Wronkovich of Whiskey Grade got this ball rolling when he decided he needed to step into my world and help Skidmark Garage stay alive.

Because he’s connected to some serious decision makers, he proposed the idea of having community motorcycle garages (CMGs) play some sort of role in all the IMS shows this season. This led to Zach Rudio from Progressive’s marketing firm, MatchMG, getting in touch with me.

Zach contacted a CMG in every city that the IMS show was going to and organized the stage schedule in such a way that we were all given the opportunity to plug our respective business (and business model) to the entire crowd in the Progressive area of the show. I was lucky enough to present six times over the course of the weekend.

Friday night was the Meet the Builders afterparty that Jeff Najar of Biker Pros organized. He introduced me to so many heavy hitters and did everything he could to help promote Skidmark Garage.

Builder’s from the party

We had around 110 people hanging out and getting to the community. Wilbur, who is one of Skidmark’s biggest fans, even drove in from as far as Altoona, PA to hang out! Bear Haughton from Old Bike Barn and his wife Lauren drove up from Columbus to show support and to discuss cat butts.

Thankfully, mister IMS himself, Grady Pfeiffer, was gracious and kind to Skidmark Garage and reimbursed me for the party. And he already wants to discuss how Skidmark Garage can be represented at the IMS next year. Mark Adams set up a little photo studio during the party and the people just ate it up. He also provided many of the pictures used in my powerpoint when I was speaking on the Progressive stage.

Even with this stroke of luck, I still could not afford a booth of my own. That’s when Derek Smith from Thunder Roads of Ohio stepped in and offered to help me out. Derek believes in Skidmark Garage and has offered me assistance several times as I’ve been struggling to get a foothold. He attends all the Skidmark functions and continually asks how he can help.

Plans for the IMS weekend got super crazy when Jeff Najar called to ask if it’d be alright to have the official IMS afterparty at Skidmark Garage on the Friday night of the show. The topper was getting a call from Meredith Loza, who is in charge of the Shift at IMS area, wanting Skidmark to have a presence inside Shift. Skidmark Garage’s role at the IMS show went from 0 to 9 in only a few days. The anxiety leading up the weekend was not insignificant.

Skidmark’s intern, Jada Lawrence, came into the garage and did a lot of work that most people might consider below them. She swept every inch, organized, cleaned, and just kept finding things to take care of. Elliott Copen came in late one night and spent a good hour or two wiping down every surface of the bar. The next day, Janeen Rumph showed up after spending the first half of the day cleaning houses with her sister, and cleaned the whole lounge. I mean mopped, dusted, wiped, disinfected, vacuumed, and Fabreezed that place. It truly had never looked better.

Meanwhile, Molly Vaughan was busy creating the new flier, communicating with the IMS people, being my rock as I freaked out, marketing and promoting like her life depended on it (all the while teaching high school). Tim spent every spare minute making the garage look like it should. His eye for purposeful design and his willingness to just get shit done are two things I lack in my own life. The garage would not function without the presence of these two people.

All in all, there were six bikes going to the IX Center from Skidmark Garage. Because the members of Skidmark are among the most generous humans on the planet, I was afforded the opportunity to borrow PJ’s highpoint trailer to pick up Al Wransky’s perfect 1977 Goldwing. And then Dave Nolan didn’t hesitate to offer the use of his monster trailer to cart four bikes to the show, while PJ took his CanAm and Jordan’s CB750A. Getting to use Dave’s trailer was only half the battle, because my old truck can’t pull it. So member John Reinhardt offered to tow it to the show AND come back to pick it up Sunday evening with his gigantic diesel work truck. Mark Adams and John helped me load that trailer up the morning before the show.

Tim and Scuba Steve spent a few hours with me Thursday afternoon loading my truck and unloading it at the IX Center. They did some heavy lifting. Between the three of us, we got all four bikes from the trailer and the entire booth loaded in. Luckily, Ashley Hyde was available Friday morning to take control of set-up inside the joint. She dictated what goes where and made sure people followed the rules. And she couldn’t have been kinder about it. Tim and Janeen were vital to getting things set-up as I ran around like a dummy trying to connect dots and mentally prepare for all the stage time Progressive gave me. Tim had the brilliant idea to have Mark Adams take a high resolution photo of a pegboard full of tools and use that as the booth backdrop rather than lug an entire work bench to the IX. I ordered it from, and a wonderful woman named Anicko worked with me to get it done right, and for a fair price.

Seeing the familiar face of Jacqui Van Ham as I approached the stage was important to my mental state. She reassured me that things were going smoothly and that I should relax. She introduced me to the three guys that were running the tech behind the scenes, Sam, Mike, and TJ.

These three dudes were friendly, mellow and clearly had their jobs under control. Knowing the sound and video were going to work seamlessly further set me at ease. Those four people running the Progressive show area couldn’t have been doing a better job. I quickly looked forward to the time I got spend with them. It was an unexpected structure that I built upon during the weekend. Jacqui’s introduction of Skidmark Garage was flattering every time as I walked up on stage.

Alex Rossborough is an enthusiastic supporter of everything Skidmark. Not only does he teach classes in Skidmark, but he is always promoting Skidmark, and joined me on stage to interview members of the garage to further prove to the crowd that the garage is full of regular people, not intimidating mechanics. He constantly cheers me on and believes in the mission of Skidmark Garage as much as anyone. Getting on the stage to be interviewed isn’t for everyone, but Jordan McGhee, Sean Harris, Elliott Copen, Thomas Hayes, JT Teringo, Mark Adams, and Greg Castillo all volunteered, and all of them killed it.

I was lucky enough to have Bear come up on the stage with me twice to plug Old Bike Barn and talk for a minute about how important the CMG movement is to not only his business, but to the greater good of our society.

At the show, I had help from so many members of the garage. Pat Wilson, Thomas Hayes, Elliott Copen, Tim Fearon, Janeen Rumph, Karl Walker, and Eric Eisenberg all sat behind the table and at the Shift area at some point or another. Eisenberg was a trooper. He sat with Al’s other Goldwing at Shift for 90% of the show. He talked about the garage with anyone that walked by and never complained for a moment.

During the madness of the show, I was neglecting my stomach. Molly’s parents came to the show, despite their utter disinterest in motorcycles, just to show some support. Both of them, separately, somehow recognized the fact that I needed pizza. I was so grateful to them for just navigating the massive crowd to get me food. I didn’t know how hungry I was until they came back both times with the best food on earth…pizza. 🙂

The load-out is always a dreaded time after a show. But this time, there was this incredible coordinated effort by Dave Nolan, Mark Adams, Sean Harris, Pat Wilson, Tim Fearon, Janeen Rumph, Jordan McGhee, PJ, and John Reinhardt to get all the items together, loaded into trucks, cars, and trailers, and driven back to the garage. Everything got unloaded into Skidmark by 7pm. The packing up, loading out, and transport is always a process that takes hours longer than it should. But not this time. One of the best moments of this whole weekend was watching the Skidmark community come together as one to clean up and get out of the IX Center.

I stressed a lot about the IMS show in the weeks leading up to it. I realized last night as I was heading home that there is absolutely no possible way that it could have been successful without the participation and help of every single person described above. I am so used to thinking that Skidmark is one-man-show because the bills are only paid by one person. I now understand that Skidmark Garage is as far from a one-man-show as possible. One man could not have pulled off this weekend’s event. It took 30 other people to help carry the weight. I couldn’t be more thankful to you all. I’m proud and quite lucky to have had the help of all of you.

Brian Schaffran
Skidmark Garage
5401 Hamilton Ave
Cleveland, OH 44114

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