2012 marks the 25th anniversary of HeliBars® introduction to the motorcycling community, but the roots of HeliBars started back in 1978. For those who’ve wondered how one gets into the business of manufacturing more comfortable motorcycle handlebars, Harry and I’ll take this anniversary year to shed some light on the subject. Like Dr.Seuss said, “You have brains in your head, You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose… “
As an avid mechanic who loved motorcycles, Harry had a garage where he spent a lot of time tinkering when he wasn’t working as a certified welder of aerospace and aviation components for General Electric. In 1978, Jimmy Carter was president and when he cancelled the B1B bomber project a large portion of GE’s work dried up. In May of 1978 Harry joined the ranks of the unemployed as GE laid off hundreds of workers. This was one month after the birth of our second child, and the growing family didn’t fit into his (beloved) 1977 Ford F150 stepside 4×4 pickup. Seeing his “time off” from work as an opportunity he sold the truck, purchased a brand new Linde UCC 305 tig welder and set up shop in his garage. The intention was to cater to industry in the greater Boston area, doing the prototype and R&D work that he enjoyed while he waited for a call-back from General Electric. At the same time, he could continue to pursue his passion for “all things motorcycle” while offering mechanical and fabrication services to the local motorcycling community.
He called the company Heli Modified (Heli for heli-arc welding, and modified because that’s what he did). The little company did OK, and when the callback came from GE for a third shift position he made the decision not to return but to continue to work for himself….(to be continued).