PLAINVILLE — A local trio has gone from riding dirt bikes in the woods to opening a small motorcycle shop, which has now blossomed into a full-fledged dealership with hundreds of used bikes filling the former home of the Parsons Buick Company on East Street.
"It started with 20 motorcycles in Meriden and we kind of built it up to have 250 in stock in a 20,000 square foot building. So we're super excited for just the possibilities to have some room to grow," said Justin Manafort, co-owner of Powerhouse Motorsports, formerly located on South Broad Street (Route 5) in Meriden.
Manafort would like the store to become a “superstore of used motorcycles” – a place where people new to the sport can get started and experienced riders can trade-in a bike to try a new one.
“If you were looking for a specific type of bike...we would have all the different brands, the Hondas, the Kawasakis, the Yamahas, so you can compare them,” he said.
Motorsports opened at 55 S. Broad St. in Meriden around 2014. Manafort opened it with partners and longtime riding buddies Marc Buck and Erik MacLaren. With business picking up and space running short, they moved to vacant Buick dealership at 151 East St. late last year.
State Rep. William Petit Jr., who presented Manafort with a proclamation from the General Assembly during a recent ribbon cutting, praised the partners for bringing life back to the shuttered dealership.
“This is such a wonderful addition,” Petit said. “ … It’s great to have a new business in this space.”
Browsing the rows of motorcycles in the storeroom, Buck said customers can get a feel for the bike they’ve been researching.
“You might have done a lot of research on one motorcycle, but when you come and you see a lot of other ones in the same style, it allows you to really dial in what you like,” he said.
Motorsports isn’t Manafort’s first foray in the motorcycle industry. In the mid-90s he opened Performance Cycle Engineering, a shop centered on building custom motorcycles and service bikes. He left the business after a few years to focus on the family enterprise, Manafort Brothers Inc.
"We always rode motorcycles and so we always had a passion for the industry and just to be able to get back into the buying and selling and working on bikes was exciting," he said.