Brick City Custom Works – Mexico

Motorcycles are in the blood of Chris Azdell, Rich Nowlin and Shayne Belshe. And they know from experience that when something is in their blood, they’ve just got to run with it.

3 workers in motorcycle shop

Chris Azdell (left), Shayne Belshe (center) and Rich Nowlin were good friends and fellow motorcycle enthusiasts long before they entered the business world by starting Brick City Custom Works three years ago in their hometown of Mexico, Mo.

That’s what led them to start their own custom motorcycle repair and service shop — Brick City Custom Works — in 2004, in Mexico, Mo.

“My partners and I decided many years ago that we wanted to expand our knowledge of our own bikes and eventually do our own repairs and maintenance,” says Azdell. “After years of riding, and wanting a new career, we decided to pack up shop in late 2000 and move to Phoenix, Ariz.”

There they enrolled in the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute, the only mechanics school endorsed by the Harley-Davidson Motor Co., the iconic Milwaukee-based motorcycle producer. All three specialized in Harley-Davidson service, repair and performance for early model, late model, V-rod and Buell motorcycles.

In early 2002, the trio returned to Mid-Missouri, where the new owners of the Mid-America Harley-Davidson dealership in Columbia hired them as repair technicians. By late summer Azdell took over as service manager, Belshe became assistant manager and Nowlin served as an A-technician.

During the next couple of years all three motorcycle aficionados gained a wealth of experience in motorcycle repair and service. They also developed an itch to team up and start their own motorcycle service shop.

man working on a motorcycle

Rich Nowlin installs oil lines on a bike the Brick City trio has lovingly custom built.

Three years later they decided to seriously pursue the idea of starting their own company, but they needed some guidance. Pat Nowlin, the adult education director at the Thomas H. Hart Vocational School in Mexico, Mo., suggested they contact Virgil Woolridge, University of Missouri Extension business development specialist in Audrain County.

Woolridge indoctrinated the would-be entrepreneurs about challenges of business ownership. He counseled them on how to start a business, emphasizing the information found in the business startup materials available from the Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Centers, which is part of MU Extension’s Business Development Program.

“This business venture, as with all business startups, was inherently risky because the business owners were giving up existing jobs with benefits to start the business,” Woolridge recalls.

He counseled them about the various forms of business ownership and on breakeven analysis to ensure their business idea was viable. Woolridge also gave them the information necessary to legally start a business in Audrain County.

man working on motorcycle part

Chris Azdell installs vent lines on a Buell motorcycle.

Their biggest challenge was dealing with a lack of startup money, according to Woolridge: “They were able to somewhat overcome this by pooling their resources and creating sweat-equity in their business.”

While operating a business for the past three years, the Brick City boys have maintained an optimistic outlook. They believe they’ve gained a wealth of knowledge about small business survival.

“We strive every day to please our customers,” says Azdell. “The smiles on people’s faces when they pick up their bikes are worth every bit of hardship we face to keep the doors open.”

“We also believe we help keep the public’s motorcycles in top condition to help them save money on gas, as well as reducing emissions on Mother Earth. We feel we help economically and environmentally.”

Chris Azdell, Shayne Belshe and Richie Nowlin
Brick City Customs
4780 E. Liberty St.
Mexico, MO 65265
Phone: 573-581-2936
Email us:

This story was featured in the July 2007 newsletter.

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