I’ve always respected guys that try to make a go of running a business in motorcycling. It’s the dream of many people, but it’s not an easy one to make come true, especially starting from ground zero. Managing physical goods, balancing the books and relationships is a marathon task in the beginning. The whirlwind of physical work, building out the shop, and working on bikes means it isn’t an easy task, even for driven and gifted people. I had the privilege of watching my friends Andrew C. Johnson and Jake Smith start The Gents Wrench from the ground up. Jake recently got one of those once in a lifetime job offers and has moved on with skills he honed in school, his home garage, and at The Gents Wrench. He and Andrew busted their asses to lay the foundation for what is now a growing business that offers everything from fabrication to working on old motorcycles many shops refuse. Andrew is a trained fire & rescue pro with dues paid in that field. He left it to pursue a life immersed in motorcycles and mechanical endeavors.
I sat with Andrew and his main dude Zach Wolfe recently to get some perspective on where the shop is going and feel out their attitudes about the motorcycle world. I came away impressed with their ethos; even in their modest surroundings it’s clear these are men with a plan. Their willingness to teach their customers what they know and what seems like an insatiable drive to acquire new skills and equipment is awesome. They’re working hard at paying their dues in the shop day to day. Their long term vision is to “build a few bikes a year” while serving their growing customer base. The fact that they will work on many 70’s and 80’s machines that other shops turn away makes them local Columbus, Ohio heroes for motorcyclists that consume a diet of cheap, older motorcycles.
What’s most impressive is there’s none of the holier than thou attitude that seems to develop over time in most shops and, from what I can see, it will stay that way. I’ve listened to Andrew patiently explain issues to customers on the phone, while keeping his hands moving cleaning carbs. These guys are hungry, energetic, and love what they do. The dedication to continuously work improving their skills and equipment is to be commended, and I can’t wait to see where this shop goes in the next few years. Zach has a proper addiction to rare 70’s chopper parts and long bikes and I’m already impressed with the stuff coming from the shop. Andrew is developing some killer electrical skills (much needed for work on older bikes). When I dropped in the other day, I found him explaining the complexities of the charging issues on my chopper and it had me smiling ear to ear.
Here’s a look inside The Gents Wrench. No, it’s not a million dollar custom shop, but it has everything you need from TIG and MIG welders to a lathe and frame jig. I hope this story inspires others to see that if your dream is to build an “up and comer shop,” it’s within your reach with the right attitude, modest means, and realistic goals.
Give The Gents Wrench crew a follow on Instagram and Facebook.
Keep it between the ditches and the shiny side up!