The S&S Bailout Keeps A Half Century of Motorcycle Manufacturing Tradition Alive

S&S Cycle owner, George B. Smith, and company president Steve Iggens knew their firm was in dire straits.

S&S Cycle makes motorcycle engines and parts and was founded in 1958 by George J. Smith and Stanley Stankos in Blue Island, Illinois. The company started out selling high performance pushrods for Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

“We were in a cash crunch and we needed help,” Smith said. “We got it.”

The La Crosse, Wisconsin company was growing fast in the 90′s and at least at the beginning of the 2000′s, so they had taken out some loans to finance the company’s rapid expansion. An economic downturn followed and that suddenly meant less orders, and coupled with the high interest payments their borrowing created, you had all the factors in line for  a severe cash flow issue.

The manufacturer of after-market engines and parts got some help to save S&S Cycle from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority which guaranteed portions of the refinancing loans S&S needed to stay in operation. Yet another leg up in dire times came via a Community Grant from the state of Wisconsin’s Department of Commerce.

“We were in a cash crunch and we needed help,” Smith said. “We got it.”

That aid  was part of a new market tax credit loan through the WHEDA in 2009 and a community grant loan in 2010 which the company  used to invest in new equipment and tooling. Smith the S&S  resurgence comes as the company is refinancing loans from the 2004 expansion and was only possible because of the WHEDA guarantees.

Today S&S is back on the growth track, with revenues up 30 percent from 2009 and its workforce at 230, Smith said.

“Had it not been for the economic development assistance we received from various programs, we might not have been around…today,” Smith said.

S&S makes the throwback K-bobb


La Crosse, Wisconsin, USA

Tel: 608 627 1497/0253

Fax: 608 627 1488/0771



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