Mark Downies (Doc’s) Story
I started working for North Coast Ducati in 1992, the business had 3 owners , Ashley Beaton, Don Adams and Rob McLauchlan. It was situated in the back of Beatons Home Appliances (which is now the spare parts area). At that point I was the only full time employee and the stock level consisted of a, second hand Ducati Darmah, a couple of helmets and around $2000- worth of spare parts.
My trade is a motorcycle mechanic, so repairing bikes was my main task ,as well as fielding phone calls ,spare parts and dealing with new bike enquiries.
At that point in Ducati’s motorcycle production, the 851 had been out for a few years and with some refinement and tweaking from the factory, this bike had become a world beater. So Ducati capitalized on this with updates to the 900SS (sports bike) and 906 (sportstourer).
What’s this got to do with North Coast Ducati (NCD) ?? Everything, NCD was in the box seat, Ashley bought out his partners, so had control over his business, and bike buyers were looking for an alternative to the very good, but bland Japanese motorcycles, so from here on the business grew, with Beato’s different approach to things. Also having a good rapport with the Ducati importer (also the Harley Davidson importer) was also a bonus.
As business grew room was becoming an issue , so renting the front of the shed next door (after the paint shop moved out )was a good move , but the extra room needed to be justified , so another brand was required, MotoGuzzi was a natural choice as they were also experiencing a renewed interest with some more up to date models such as the Sport 1100 and revamped California 1100. I believe this was around 1994, but I could be wrong!
Next on the agenda was the Harley importers putting on some pressure for NCD to take on H-D. The previous local H-D dealers for some reason just didn’t seem to be “cutting it’, so around 1997/8 we became the local Harley dealer. So as our name suggested we were a Ducati dealer a name change was in order , can’t remember who came up with the name, North Coast V-Twins and also the slogan ‘Get the V-Twin grin’, but I’m sure I came up with some part of it, along with Rob McLauchlan and Beato. By the way, I’m still waiting for my royalty cheque !! Not too long after this we acquired the rest (rear) of the building from a windscreen replacement business, this became the workshop as we know it. From here on NCV-T continued to grow with more staff, more stock of bikes and accessories.
It is interesting to note that during 1998 we won a nationwide competition run by a popular Australian motorcycle magazine, to find the best motorcycle shop. That is a big achievement for a rural dealer.
From my side of things, I concentrated on working on Ducati’s and MotoGuzzi’s, as we had employed specialized H-D technicians, although I did pre-deliver the first Harley we sold (sold to a retired Highway Patrol officer, living in Urunga ?).
It should also be mentioned that NCV-T has always had a strong presence in the road racing scene, always with Ducati. The mechanic working at NCD before me was Brad Wiseman, he was keen about tuning race bikes and so fettled a Pantah which Beato rode.Also Rob McLauchlan raced aTT2 along with Charlie Sales TT2 and Graeme Hadaway 900SS. Over the years there have been many race bikes tuned by NCV-T with a lot of standout results, riders such as Beato, Rob Mac, Barry Blacker, Steve Martin Kerry Mills and of course Beau Beaton. Some trophies such as Buell Rolling Thunder Series winner, BEARS Formula ! and Formula 2, Ducati Owners club Champion, Australian Super Stock Champion.
It should also be mentioned, in my opinion, the success of the business is also attributed to the staff. I won’t mention any staff, other than 2 guys I personally worked closely with, who have sadly passed away.
Mirek Linehart AKA Mick or Marra, a bit hard to get to know at first, but we became good friends. One of the funniest blokes I ever met, but he never tried to funny. Loved his kids and enjoyed life. He had the funniest sayings I’ve ever heard (and I still use some of them )He was a H-D technician and he was good at his work.
Kim Hogan AKA Hoges or HOGAN (as pronounced in Hogans Heroes TV show ) Good friend, great guy. loved his music ( often had CD frenzies ) and a beer. Conscientious worker and always keen to learn. These kind of fellows make work a more enjoyable place. RIP guys!
So for me, I’ve been there nearly from the beginning, I did have a break from V-Twins and went mining in WA and also taught at TAFE around 2006 to 2009.
Funny stories ???
The day a painful customer was chased out of the shop by an angry H-D Technician, I could hear him yelling ‘I’m gonna F#%ken KILL you”.
Another time an employee used to get binoculars in the lunchroom, and put Vegemite around the eye sockets, then get someone interested in something out the window ……