Parts for Whatever You ride
When we decided to feature Bad Dad's custom motorcycles, we decided to write an article different than the standard "baseball stat card" type of story. We spoke with Derk Hinsey, Mr. Bad Dad himself, and asked about his past, present, and future. Before continuing, it should be mentioned that Bad Dad is a company offering parts and service for H-D and metric bikes that have a decidedly touring slant to them; from saddlebags, fenders, lights, and accessories, all the way up to custom paint and complete bike builds. The two bikes featured here and on the cover are examples of Bad Dad's breadth and style.
In 1977 Derk Hinsey left Indiana University while studying accounting after landing on the "Dean's List." Most people are not aware that the Dean has two lists, so Derk left before he was asked to leave. He went on to study welding at Ivy Tech Vocational School and learned how to stick metal things together and take them apart. The winter of 1979 brought with it the opening of Hinsey's Pro Paint Body Shop in Fort Wayne, Indiana, amidst a recession and gas rationing. The body shop business grew from rust-work and re-paints to collision and Corvette restoration. During this time the employee base hovered between two and five. The advent of insurance-owned body shops and Direct Repair Programs coupled with increased "total losses" caused profitability to suffer.
Derk customized a '98 Sportster in the winter of 2001, and people started to request similar custom work for their bikes. At first Derk hesitated, but when faced with not being able to keep "tar paper on the shack," he started customizing bikes and bike parts. Initially he sold painted H-D tins on eBay and in typical eBay fashion, the market became saturated and prices became unprofitable. During the winter of 2002, an Electra Glide Classic and a Road King came into the shop. The EG had a wide, long fiberglass rear fender and a pair of 4-inch extensions that the owner had previously bought to be installed along with a complete custom paintjob. In Derk's estimation, the parts fit like "socks on a rooster" so he cut them into several pieces, fit them up, and matted them back together. After getting the parts finished, Derk looked at them and said, "I better make a mold off these cuz other people are going to want them too." Turns out the guy with the RK wanted a set installed on his bike. So Derk made some parts and got a "real mold" made by a guy who actually knew what he was doing and they were off to the races. Derk's old friend eBay was his vehicle to sell while he developed his own website. Derk's wife, Andrea, having a degree in graphic arts and web experience, paved the way for expanded pathways to sell parts to the world, via the web.
There is so much involved with competing in the custom motorcycle industry, as there is in any industry. In 2006, Derk developed and taught a Custom Paint Class for Ivy Tech State College (morphed version of where he learned to weld). It was an eye opener as Derk was forced to focus on all of the small details that lead to a successful outcome in any endeavor. Derk told his students that the custom paint industry was a complex series of thoughts and practices more complicated than they knew. Derk's best example was the napkins they routinely found in a dispenser at their favorite fast food establishment. These napkins used to be a tree. The process to take a tree from forest to a table was a definitive series of events that, when followed, would produce a favorable outcome. This process, known only to persons in that industry, was the same scenario in the custom paint world.