It really all started years ago. Years back into when we were younguns. We could probably put most of the blame on our cousin who got us into snowmobiling with our Dad when we were 10 or 12 years old. After years of running sleds in northern PA, Dad got his first Quad, the 1986 Polaris Trailboss. And to keep us safe, he purchased a 1984 Honda Odessey which had the full cage, a 250 two-stroke motor, and 0 (zero/nada) rear suspension. Learning the ropes on old sleds and quads was a lot of fun but as we came of age and got into our teenage years, we were looking into getting something to ride for ourselves. That's when our mom sat us down and told us we could purchase some four-wheelers for ourselves. This was a way we could start establishing credit (who would have thought credit would have come to mean so much, right?) But, getting four-wheelers came with one condition. This condition would mean that we had to agree that we would not consider getting into street bikes. (Looking back now, it doesn't seem to have had much of an impact. Sorry mom - RIP). Just a couple of years later, Jason purchased his first street bike, a 1986 Yamaha Radian where he learned a couple things. One is not to ride on potentially wet roads when there are subfreezing temperatures, and also what a great experience it is to ride a motorcycle. What freedoms it gives you.
Jason always seemed more interested in powersports than Dan He was more into what makes them tick, how they're built, and what changes could be done to them to improve on an existing product. What better way to get a fix for that addiction than to get a job in the industry? So he did just that. In 1991 he got a job at West Shore Suzuki. He got his foot in the door and the rest is not history. He soon upgraded his Radian for a New Suzuki Katana, which he rode the wheels off of and soon upgraded the bodywork from the stock Black to a custom bright yellow. (Thanks to some close contact with the back of a car.) At the same time, he was also growing at his job, West Shore moved to the new location on the corner and he encouraged them to get a Dyno for the service department. Back then, it was unheard of for bike shops to have such a tool. Well, it worked very well and allowed them to grow their service menus to include tuning. Looking for more power, Jason located and purchased a 1986 GSXR1100. What a monster of a bike. It wasn't so refined like the newer bikes, had loads of power, heavy steering, and the tach didn't even register till 3K rpm. It is now considered a piece of nostalgic racing history.
Years continued to pass while Jason worked at West Shore. Dan had taken a job in the printing industry running sheetfed printing presses. Even though he had taken a different career path, he wasn't lacking in the toy dept. Starting with his first bike, a 1984 Yamaha RZ350. Followed shortly afterward with a 1987 Yamaha FZ700. He was a regular fixture at West Shore, helping on occasion but often time just occupying space.
Time ticked by and bikes had come and gone for both Jason and Dan. There were some changes in Jason's timeline with a stint as Service Manager for Yamaha of Camp Hill. Followed by a return to West Shore as General Manager. Meanwhile, Dan continued to hone his skills with ink and paper. Then late in 1999, Jason was given an opportunity that would require him to leave his post, but at the same time become self-employed. So in the year 2000, Karns Performance was born. At the same time, he worked for GCC (later Europa Macchina) as a Tuner, Fabricator, and Mechanic on Restored Porsche race cars. He also wrenched on customer's bikes out of his garage. Over time, as his customer base grew, he came across a pretty large issue, space. Due to the volume of work he had coming in, while still trying to work on the race cars, things started getting out of hand and he needed to make a decision. Go big or go home (which is funny since he was working from home). So in 2004, he decided to leave Europa Macchina and lease a facility in Camp Hill that would allow him to grow with the space he needed and a very good location for his customers. He added an additional work bay, the Dyno, a small showroom, and lots and lots of anxiety and worry. Would he be able to do it? Could he succeed? Well as the days got longer, and the word got around, he soon found he needed help. He was able to get help from Dan when he was available. But ultimately, he brought in a few part-time helpers until 2007. That's when he needed full-time help. Jason decided what he wanted wasn't an employee, but a business partner. So after some meetings with business associates and relatives, he decided to ask Dan if he had interest. After much debate, He decided to accept the offer and left his printing job of 17 years to become Jason's business partner. The first year, Dan worked alongside Jason, taking care of the simple jobs, phone duties, and counter customers. It took a while to earn the confidence of the customers since they weren't used to the new face at the shop. But they soon learned, he wasn't going anywhere, so they might as well accept the fact.
That next year (2008), it was time to grow yet again, Karns Performance added Joe as a part-time technician to alleviate some of the excessive workloads that had been accumulating. It was almost like a wildfire, the number of customers increased at an alarming rate that required us to grow and grow. Joe accepted the offer to go full-time in 2009. Later that year, we were looking for more help with the counter and errands, when along came Kyle, who was looking to get his foot in the door at a bike shop. And of course, we answered his calling.
2010 was a very big stepping stone for Karns Performance. Just as we thought we had "control" of the growth at the shop, we were presented with an offer in April. The owner of West Shore Suzuki asked us if we were interested in purchasing their inventory, and becoming the Suzuki franchise in Mechanicsburg. Yes, the place where Jason got his start. They were ready for the next chapter in their lives and it was time for them to sell. So, after much debate, WE ACCEPTED! But our main goal was to not upset any of our current customers who may have thought we had jumped ship by aligning with a manufacturer to become one of "those dealers".
We have grown quite a bit since moving to the new shop. Seeing some holes in Suzuki’s lineup we decided to branch out and fill those voids. One of those is often inquired about… Mowers! How does a Powersports dealership decide to sell mowers? Well, in 2011 when the Bad Boy Mower's Rep stopped in out of the blue, he showed us the brand and asked if we would consider it. Through some research, we found the build quality and value are the best on the market. The fact that not everyone has to ride a powersports vehicle, but "almost everyone has to cut grass or pay somebody to" really made the decision pretty easy. So far they have been a great addition to our lines. We then followed the addition of Bad Boy Mowers with CFMoto ATVs, UTVs, and Side by Sides. Their Side by Sides and ATVs are a great compliment to Suzuki’s off-road product. CFMoto offers a product that Suzuki doesn’t and with standard features and price that the competition can’t touch. After repeated customers asking for service and parts on small/youth model “off brand” motorcycles and ATVs, we found another hole, nobody offered anything like this locally that could support them with parts and service…. Enter SSR Powersports. Now we can offer Pitbikes, Economical Dirtbikes, and Small street going bikes. With the ability to help the customers who have these bikes. SSR is one of, if not the biggest distributor of Pitbikes in the US. Most recently, we added Benelli. A manufacturer of Italian designed Motorcycle and scooters, with a quality fit, finish, and performance that you expect from a name that has been around since 1911.
Our focus hasn’t changed, every customer is here because they believe in us and have trust in our services. We still consider ourselves an independent shop, only with big dealership capabilities. We count on our customers…. That is why we are here. They put their trust in us and we expect nothing in return.
We count on our customers. After all, that is why we're here. They put their trust in us and we expect nothing in return.