Kansas Assistive Technology Cooperative

Assistive Technology in a Motorcycle Business

For several years, Jim Taylor absorbed one rejection after another.  He was unsuccessful getting back into the work force and had very little income, both of which pushed him beyond access to any small business loan.

Perhaps patience and persistence are the reasons Taylor did not get too discouraged and give up.  Instead, he just continued to move toward his dream.   Having had little success with banks and human service agencies (his case was closed), he approached KATCO because he had heard KATCO offers financing opportunities not offered by traditional financial institution's for people with disabilities.

Taylor fits the description of a person with a disability because in 2004 he fell more than 40 feet, while doing an electrical repair job in Mexico.  Today, he uses a wheelchair because of permanent injuries from the fall.

“In San Diego, the doctors patched me back up,” Taylor said of the first days after the accident. “I had two broken knees, two broken vertebrae, a hip out of joint, and the fall shattered the bone in my back that helps my arms operate properly.”

With such injuries, Taylor is not the kind of man to give up.  He did know that he could not return to work as an industrial engineer, his profession before the fall.  With that reality mentally tucked away, Taylor launched a spirited job search, to no avail.  He eventually became determined to own and operate his own business.

Jim with blue bike First, he helped two Arkansas friends detail their motorcycles.  He did the same for a firefighter living across the street from where he and his wife, Liliana, live.  Enjoying that work he learned that motorcycle dealerships detailed bikes more so than individuals.  This remains true across the country.  With that knowledge and his passion for the work, he believed he had found a business niche, motorcycle detailing.

Taylor used his initiate and determination and made contact with Scott Sharer, a Georgia businessman, who operates nine motorcycle detailing shops along the East Coast.  ‘scott took a real big liking to me,” Taylor said.  “He came to Kansas to teach me how to detail motorcycles the right way.”  “We hit it off right away.”  Scott stayed at our home and we shared our meals with him.  ‘Scott said he liked me because I was a perfectionist, picky about doing the detailing,” Taylor said.  “It had to be First Class for me.  And he was just like me.”

Having developed detailing skills Taylor faced what he thought was his final challenge, to locate a traditional bank willing to approve a $5,000 loan that he needed to buy specialized equipment.   Looking for options he approached a financial investor who told Taylor that he would never find a bank willing to approve a loan as small as $5,000.  Fortunately, Taylor heard about KATCO from a friend of his wife and did not waste any time contacting the KATCO office. 

Taylor recalls with disbelief that within three months he not only had a loan for less than he expected but received additional support for items he thought he would have to pay for himself.  Working with Mary Ann Newton, KATCO assistant director, Taylor was able to receive assistance with Kansas Rehabilitation Services (KRS).  Along with Paula Parks, KRS counselor, Taylor received financial support to pay for work uniforms, detailing chemicals, business cards and wood/materials for a ramp to more safely transition between his home and garage. KRS also paid for replacing his teeth which were knocked out when he unsuccessfully tried to navigate a set of steps without a ramp.

Jim with black bikeThese days, Taylor’s shop, named J. T. Chopper Detailing, is open 24 hours a day and seven days a week in Emporia.  His enthusiasm about his business and willingness to work at all hours are proof that he has a big dose of the Kansas work ethic.  The long hours also are a reflection of his gratitude to have a job, especially after running into more than his share of dead ends.

Today, an observer can easily hear in Taylor’s voice about the love he has for his work at the shop.  “When I finish detailing a motorcycle, I sit back with a cup of coffee and look at that bike, as a work of art.  I can make a dirty, nasty-looking bike look absolutely better than when it was brand new”.