Thursday, September 16, 2010

Longtime Royal Enfield dealership KRW
destroyed by fire; riders rally to help

WDTN TV coverage shows fire completely destroying Royal Enfield dealer KRW Cycles in Phillipsburg, Ohio, Sept. 5.

The family owned business served southeastern Ohio from that building for 41 years and was one of the earliest Royal Enfield dealerships in modern times. It has offered the brand since the mid-1990s.

It is too early to tell if KRW can reopen, Tony Bapaille said Tuesday. "Right now we're just trying to recover whatever we can."

Tony, his brother Thomas, and Tom's son Kirk run KRW. They've earned a reputation for straight dealing and the loyalty of off-road riders in the region, some of whom they've sponsored in competition.

Tony confirmed a report that there was no insurance coverage.

"It was a cement building," he said. "Who would have thought...?"

Video shot by onlookers and posted on YouTube shows the building completely aflame before firefighters begin a seemingly feeble spray of water.

"The fire melted steel roof beams and they gave way," Tony said.

Wiped out along with the building were motorcycles, including those of customers, race cars, memorabilia and family photos.

What survived was a legacy of customer service.

"If there is an upside to this whole thing, it's that so many people have offered to help. People we haven't seen for a long time have stopped in or called. It's heartwarming," Tony said.

"It's like one said: you guys have made a lot of friends down through the years. You're a small dealership that caters to people. Not a mall dealership kind of place. Shops like yours are few and far between in this day and age."

Customers have stepped forward to help. This notice is posted on the off-road riders web site HareScrambleTalk:

"The benefit ride for KRW Cycles will be at The Dayton Motorcycle Club in October, most likely Oct. 23, but it still has to be decided at the club meeting... There will be a woods loop set up, and the moto track for everyone to ride and have a good time, some good food and some live music to finish out the day. Primitive camping is available. Spread the word to all your friends and come out to have some fun and help out some friends that have helped out so many racers and riders over the years."

A fund to help KRW meet its obligations was to be set up at Fifth Third Bank in Dayton, Ohio. I am still working to confirm that.

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