#321 Working on the Brand

The motorcycle economy has had some stagnant times of late, but there’s no moss growing on George Tchor and his Kreater Custom Motorcycles.

The final days of the 2016 Canadian International AutoShow in Toronto coincided with this year’s Toronto Motorcycle Show, which made February 19-21 a busy weekend. Those who managed to split their time may have noticed the AutoShow’s new-for-2016 Hot Rods & Choppers exhibit, anchored by Toronto-area customizer George Tchor and his team wrenching on a live build of a ground-up project they named “Bloody Mess.” Tchor and team capped the last Sunday of the AutoShow by firing up the bike’s 124-inch V-Twin. No doubt, everyone within earshot went home pleased with the outcome.
As a pro builder, Tchor is eminently marketable and media-savvy and must certainly be regarded as one of this country’s true custom motorcycle superstars—a bonus is that he has not yet made the exodus to Cave Creek, Arizona where so many of pro custom’s elite players are now clustered.
While some of you reading this may wonder why Tchor was at a car show on the same weekend of an important motorcycle industry event, I personally feel that the more interesting question is, when’s the last time you saw a top flight custom builder start and finish a high-end project at a major Canadian motorcycle show? No, neither have I. Something to consider for next year?
Tchor’s decision to display his wares at the AutoShow where attendance has crested 300,000 every year for the past five years is a glimpse at the internal workings of a rare Canadian—namely, one who’s brand-conscious. Let’s face facts: the combined attendance at all the winter motorcycle shows likely does not equal one auto industry show.
For Tchor spreading the brand far and wide is an obviously important part of the business. But during a telephone interview in the week after the show he told us that although he has been a professional customizer for the past 25 years, it was only at one of the V-Twin Expo events in Cincinnati during the early 2000s that he realized, “I need to step up my game.” V-Twin Expos are among the premier marketplaces for purveyors of custom and aftermarket products and Tchor would surely have been exposed to the amped marketing campaigns of people like the Teutels and the Jesse James who were then at the apex of their fame. Whatever he might have learned from his peer group in terms of marketing was not lost on the energetic Tchor, and he says, “As your craftsmanship gets refined, your game comes up.”
Since that revelation in Cincinnati, he’s built fleets of high-end customs, has represented Canada at the World Championship of Custom Building and has seen his business Kreater Custom Motorcycles, located in Etobicoke, flourish with 12 hoists, a staff of eight, and a celebrity client list. The truly high-end $200,000-300,000 commissioned orders may have slowed down to a mere trickle in this post-recession era but there is still a steady demand for builds in the $35,000-40,000 range and a roster of repeat customers who’ve developed a sweet tooth for Tchor’s Pro-Street flavours.
For Canadians not in the GTA, there will be several opportunities to see Tchor’s handiwork this summer. He told us that he intended to bring at least six Kreater bikes to events such as Daytona, Sturgis and Laconia, and that he is currently working on a “very special piece” which he hopes will be finished in time to enter in the premier ‘Freestyle’ Category of this year’s World Championship of Custom Building competition. Definitely something worth cheering for, as one Canadian moves his personal brand a little closer toward the big spotlight.