Local News

N.C. To Be Home For Revived Indian Motorcycle Company

Posted July 21, 2006

— Indian Motorcycle Company, once a fierce competitor with Harley Davidson, is coming back into business, and its new home will be in North Carolina.

Indian Motorcycle and Chris-Craft Corporation, a boat manufacturing firm that dates to 1874, said Thursday they will build new manufacturing facilities in Kings Mountain, N.C. Governor Mike Easley announced the new plants.

Both firms are owned by privately held Stellican, Ltd., an investment firm in London. Stellican bought Chris-Craft out of bankruptcy in 2001.

The original Indian Motorcycle went out of business in 1954. The new company said it would invest $23 million to open a motorcycle production facility. The assets of the firm had been purchased by the London group. Indian Motorcycle will occupy a plant once operated by International Paper. It plans to hire 167 people.

"Our primary goal is to return Indian Motorcycle Company to its rightful position as a premium motorcycle brand, selling beautifully designed, high quality products and delivering world-class service," said David Wright, Indian Motorcycle Company's president. "North Carolina offers us the skilled workforce and business-friendly atmosphere to make that happen."

An Indian brand motorcycle was featured in the 2005 feature film "The World's Fastest Indian" starring Anthony Hopkins. Hopkins played the role of a New Zealander who set speed records in the 1960s on a restored 1920 Indian motorcycle.

Average wages at the company are expected to be $47,000 a year plus benefits.

Indian Motorcycle brand production models are considered collector's items. Manufacturing dates back to 1902.

The company plans to introduce the "Indian Chief" motorcycle in the second half of 2007. The firm said it would begin putting together a "network" of dealerships starting early next year.

"We will apply the same practical and long-term approach to Indian as we have employed successfully at Chris-Craft," said Stephen Julius, chairman of both Indian Motorcycle and Chris-Craft. "We are confident we will repeat our success with Indian by remaining true to the rich heritage of this incredible brand and doing things slowly and thoroughly. We are certain that there is an important role for Indian in the future of the American motorcycle market.

The relocation of the firms from Sarasota, FL. is expected to create 807 new jobs over the next five years, Easley said.

Chris-Craft said it would move its yacht division to a former Daimler-Chrysler facility in Kings Mountain. The company plans to hire 640 people and to invest $19 million in its new plant.

Both companies will receive One North Carolina Fund and Job Development Investment Grants as well as local government incentives.

Under a 10-year agreement, Chris-Craft and Indian Motorcycle could receive as much as $7.56 million in grants equal to 65 percent of state personal income withholding taxes generated by the creation of new jobs.

"By choosing North Carolina, these companies offer proof that we have the skilled, knowledge-based workforce needed to support the growth and success of the boat and vehicle manufacturers in our state," Easley said in a statement.

Average wages at Chris-Craft are expected to be $32,000 a year plus benefits. Average wages in Cleveland County are $28,700 plus benefits.

"This state has a workforce with the skills we need to build boats," said Stephen Heese, Chris-Craft's president. "Former furniture makers and woodworkers are ideal employees for us."

Chris-Craft operations resumed in 2001.

Other partners participating in the recruiting of the companies included the N.C. Community College System, Cleveland County, City of Kings Mountain, and Duke Energy.


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