Meet the Team: Mustang Motorcycle Seats’ Founder & President, Al Simmons

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7 May 2010

One of the first things you learn about business blogging is that it allows you to put your company’s personality on display. Why would a business like Mustang Motorcycle Seats choose to do something like that? Because unlike businesses in other verticals (think bottle manufacturing, for example), the motorcycle aftermarket parts & accessories industry was spawned by the very same people who ride bikes, and for most of them – in addition to the great products they made – it was their personalities that made them mainstays in the space. In other words, motorcycle people tend to work at motorcycle companies, and we’ve all got a story to tell!

Today we’re pleased to introduce you to Mustang’s leading personality – our founder and president, Al Simmons.

Al Simmons, Founder & President - Mustang Motorcycle Products

Q: What compelled you to start Mustang Motorcycle Products?

A: I was a bored mechanical engineer sitting at a drafting table in the winter of 1971.  There was an ad in the paper for a motorcycle accessory salesman to travel the country and make “$30-50,000 per year.” Well, I got the job and started working for a tattooed visionary named Mike who made motorcycle seats out of a rented house in the Connecticut woods. The business was Corbin-Gentry.

I was put on the road selling seats to dealers in most of the states east of the Mississippi, driving hundreds of thousands of miles in order to do so. After about three years, I was promoted to Sales Manager and traded my van for a real office.

In 1980, things changed at Corbin-Gentry; Mike sold his interest in the company and moved to California. I started my own business, becoming one of their distributors as well as a supplier of die-cast chrome replacement Harley components. (Interesting story that I’ll save for another time, but I partnered for a few years with a fellow who owned a casting company and a World War II fighter plane, a P-51 Mustang.)

In less than a year, supply problems forced me to become a seat manufacturer myself.  I bought a two-person, custom seat operation in Massachusetts, and the rest – some 30 years later – is as they say history.  A lot of hard work, borrowed money, many new employees and good luck led to a full line of “Mustang” seats in time for the 1982 Cincinnati Dealer Show.

Q: What’s the best part of your job?

A: Not to sound corny, but I really enjoy the people. I enjoy the motorcyclists. They are the force behind the growth of Mustang and the success of our seats. I enjoy the dealers.  From Mom & Pop shops to owners of the largest, multiple-location stores, they’re all wonderful to work with.

I also enjoy the competitors. Although we compete for market share, most of us operate independently in design and direction, and it’s rewarding to work within a small fraternity of what could be considered life members.

Finally, last but certainly not least, I enjoy my employees. It is extremely satisfying to be able to provide stimulating careers to Mustang’s family of over a hundred hard-working individuals.

Q: What kind of motorcycle do you ride?

A: I have several Harleys but I spend most of my street riding time on either my Road King or Yamaha V-Star 1300.

Q: What’s your favorite Mustang product?

A: My answer would probably change every year as we design and manufacture new products but, for this year’s riding season, I’d have to say it’s our new Wide Tripper with Driver Backrest.    It’s low and sleek but still gives you a really comfortable ride.

Q: From Mustang’s perspective, what specifically are you most looking forward to over the next 12 to 18 months?

A: Same as what most of us in the industry are probably hoping for — that new motorcycle unit sales rebound to at least half of what they lost.

Q: If you could take a week or so off from work and ride your motorcycle anywhere in the world, where would you go and who would you take with you?

A: That’s easy. I’d like to take a long, leisurely ride up the Pacific Coast Highway with my wife — and I can guarantee you that we both will be riding in comfort!

Thanks, Al, for opening up and sharing some really great information.

Look for another “Meet the Team” post to appear here on our blog within the next month or so. In the meantime, if you have a question of your own for Al, ask it by clicking on the Comment link below!

2 Responses to “Meet the Team: Mustang Motorcycle Seats’ Founder & President, Al Simmons”

  1. Paul Messenger August 14, 2010 at 4:41 pm #

    Switched out to “Mustangs” on two Heritage models, a Dyna-Wide, and a Springer. (Left my Ultra stock.) Loved them all.

    PS: I’m living in Al’s house on the Banana River in Florida. Maybe I could get a break on the rent for buying all those seats!

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