Who are the Shadley Brothers?
Two brothers and a son who share a passion for anything with an engine. Shadley Brothers and Auto-Tec is an enterprise consisting of motorcycles, hotrods, auto
repair, autobody, and tow company. This combination enables them to not only have the best
equipped shop in the country, but also enables them to successfully navigate
the ups and downs of the motorcycle industry and the economy in general.
Most likely you have seen the amazing Shadley Brothers motorcycles featured in national magazines as well as in person at local and national motorcycle shows. This article is not about the bikes, instead, we are focusing on the men who build them and the facility where these machines are born.
While brothers Mark and Paul Shadley are the foundation of the Whitman Massachusetts based company, they along with Mark's son, Dean, comprise the heart and soul of today's business.
Let's start with a little history...
In the 70's, Mark and Paul built custom bikes and auto repair out of a small garage. The motorcycle portion of it started with their own bikes, then friends started bringing their bikes to the brothers for repairs, customization, and painting. As these bikes were seen on the streets and in local bike shows, reputation on the quality of their work and innovative designs spread by word of mouth. It wasn't long before the steady stream of business outgrew the small informal business and it was time to dive in.
Mark and Paul officially opened Auto-Tec for automotive repairs as well as auto body repair. For the next 20 years, their automotive and motorcycle business continued to grow. They built a solid reputation for top quality work along with award winning custom designs and fabrication of custom motorcycles and hotrods.
Dean spent his younger years hanging around his father's and uncle's shop, learning the trade. After high school, Dean went off to college and upon graduation, he returned to the shop continuing to expand on his craft and becoming a key contributor to the ongoing operations. Someday, when Mark and Paul are ready to retire, it would make perfect sense to pass the keys to Dean. He will certainly be ready to carry on their legacy.
When it came time to grow again, Mark and Paul sat down and designed a "dream shop" that would be everything they needed to allow their business to continue to grow. It is apparent from the minute that you pull into the parking lot that the design of their current building was well thought out and executed. There are separate entrances for the motorcycle and automotive businesses with a central office space that is the bridge between them. There are five distinct sections within the 15,000 square foot facility. The largest in terms of space is the automotive repair section where a half dozen vehicles can be on a lift at any one time. Our visit on a Saturday morning was no exception. Mark explained that this particular Saturday was an exceptionally busy day for repairs and that the crew was eagerly diagnosing and solving a variety of issues. From oil changes to engine rebuilds they are ready to tackle anything.
Next, we visited the motorcycle service and repair shop. Hundreds of bikes a year make their way through this section of the business. From scheduled maintenance like oil changes to routine tire and battery service all the way up to engine rebuilds and high performance modifications, this is where the bulk of the motorcycle work is performed. Our early Spring visit got us a glimpse of just how busy they were. "We offer Winter storage for quite a few people." said Mark. "They will leave us a list of what they'd like worked on during the off season. Each bike comes into the shop with a list of work. Sometimes it is just an oil change and tires, other times it might be a custom exhaust and new handlebars." When the technicians are finished with each bike it is ready for a full season of worry free riding! "We also do a lot of performance work." Shadley said. From cams and head work to big bore cylinders, stroker cranks, and turbo systems, Shadley has done it all. Mark told us that the first thing he asks is what the customer wants from their bike. "They might have an idea of what they want but we will share our experience with them and quite often come out with a better solution than what they were initially thinking." The on-site dyno room is where everything gets dialed in. Just like everything else in Shadley's facility, the dyno room is top of the line.
We next went to the fabrication shop. This is where this writer became like a kid in a candy store. The metal forming and fabrication equipment was spread out such that each piece of equipment could be in use while the adjacent machine was being used as well. Well stocked supply racks held a wide assortment of flat sheet stock, rods, tubes, and a host of other raw components that were destined to become a piece of rolling artwork. Gas tanks and fenders can be fabricated from raw sheetmetal, handlebars, brackets, adapters, and custom accessories are all designed and fabricated specifically for each machine. Mark told us that they will do a couple of custom builds a year. We've seen the creations at the shows and a few of their in-process machines on the lifts. If I were a younger man, I would be begging to do a free apprenticeship at this shop just to have the ability to work with and learn from the talented team in the fabrication shop.
Our next stop was in the retail store. Many of the bike shops you visit will have the "walls of chrome". Shadley's is no exception. What is exceptional is the award winning bikes that are parked inside the store as well. The parts counter is also a display case for one of their very first custom bikes. Mark took the time to chat with us about the growing trend where customers will look for parts on the internet and ask to have them installed at the shop. "I take the time to explain to the customer that some of the parts on the internet may not fit perfectly, or work well with the other equipment they have on their bike." he said. Mark would prefer to consult with the customer before they go off and purchase their parts. They might end up saving a lot more money in the long run.
The last section to visit in our tour was the autobody shop. This expansive, fully equipped facility is complete with a frame machine, state of the art paint room, and all the necessary equipment and space to repair or restore four or five vehicles comfortably at the same time. What really caught my eye was the size and layout of the paint room. Many consumers don't appreciate how important the painting environment is to a quality finish. Yes, it is critical to make sure that the pieces are in perfect shape prior to painting, but the real "magic" occurs in the booth. The dust free, well lit, and environmentally controlled paint room will enable paint finishes that will stop people in their tracks. This is exactly what comes out of this booth. Traffic stopping and jaw dropping paint jobs that the Shadley's have become known for.
We would like to thank Mark, Paul, and Dean for welcoming us to their facility and showing us around. It was a real pleasure to meet the men behind the machines. We hope to meet up with them someday on the road.
If you are looking for a top of the line bagger, bobber, custom, or antique then give them a shout!
1125 Bedford Street
Whitman, MA 02382
Below are just a few of the photos we took during our tour. Click to enlarge....
Goto Boston Biker!!