Howard Kelly Resigns From S&S

Howard tells me that his new position will be with Multistack. the leader in commercial industrial air chillers.

Kelly came to S&S in 2004 with plans to work with Brett Smith to create a communications and marketing department that was the quality level to be expected from an industry leader like S&S.  This past summer the S&S 50th Anniversary was the crowning achievement to that goal and the team that works with Kelly.

 “When I first arrived at S&S the plan was for me to create the service manuals, update the instruction sheet process and then start getting involved in communications and marketing.  As they say, things change and the communications and marketing issues became as important as everything else.  Having been a magazine editor in the past, it was second nature to understand the needs of media people and how to make their jobs easier when they deal with S&S.  I am very lucky to have worked with such quality people as Bruce Tessmer, Angee Williams, Chad Baker, Kevin Sather, Carla Langyel and Shay Rihn.  This is the team that will work with my replacement to continue on with the great work we did through the 50th.” said Howard Kelly.

“Howard has been an immense help to S&S Cycle and has elevated our media presence to a higher level then we have ever achieved in the past.  I and the others here at S&S have enjoyed working with Howard and we will miss him, but I am in full support of his effort to embark on this new challenger outside our industry, and wish him success.  Howard will continue to help us during this transition to make it as seamless as possible.” said, CEO George Smith.  Smith has an agreement with Kelly to support S&S in a consulting role to assure fluidity for media needs and communications regarding S&S and Kelly will retain his contact information at S&S for easier media access.

31 Responses to “Howard Kelly Resigns From S&S”

  1. 1 harry Dec 5th, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    What is going on at S&S? I hope that things stay stable there; mainly for the sake of the custom bike builders out there that use their products on a regular basis along with the consumers that buy their stuff as well. I know that things are really screwy with the economy and all but I hope that
    S&S can weather the storm and get through this okay. I would really hate to see something bad happen to them, well, if they were to go belly-up, it would be bad for the bike industry as a whole. S&S, Paughco, Baker, they have been around for quite awhile and it would really be a shitty, shitty day if they had to close up shop or get sold and have work get “outsourced” overseas somewhere for the purposes of cost cutting and max profits. Yeah, someone would “buy the name” and put out piss-poor products and have the reputations of those companies run into the ground and the folks in charge of the “new” companies wouldn’t give a shit. Perhaps I am over-reacting but I think that (IMHO) that the custom bikes/H-D/American bike companies are the last bit of Americana left, and yes it does bother me quite a bit if that is dissolved or fades away. I am sure that I will get laughed at and mocked for this particular opinion but I don’t give a fuck cause I can see this coming on a larger scale. I hope that people that have the means to do something can change the negative trends and survive this. I know that once I start working on my own bike I won’t be a cheap ass and support the companies that support us w/ good product and that will be there for the long haul. I hope that there are like minded folks out there that feel the same way.

  2. 2 Jeff Nicklus Dec 5th, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    ….. and this surprises who?

    Howard is a nice guy and I wish him well whatever his new endeavors may be.

    Over & Out,


  3. 3 harry Dec 5th, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    To Jeff Nicklus: I clicked on your website for the hell of it and WOW: You have some really, really nice bikes. If I ever win the lottery I will have to call you or find a way to convince my wife that we won’t need a house when I retire from the military and get one your bikes instead. Any advice on how to pull that off would be helpful.

  4. 4 Marc Mazerolle Dec 5th, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    I sure hope that Mr. Kelly and Mr. Smith’s departures are not an indication of troubles at S&S. It’s companies like S&S that made the industry what it is today and helps the continuation of the industry in difficult times. The 5 or 6 High Schools in the states and myself in Canada are working hard to keep the industry infused with fresh new talent and without companies like S&S our jobs become very difficult. My program has not yet benefited from S&S’s generousity but I know some of the other schools have and that’s important to the up coming kids, the industry and the lifestyle. We all need to support the industry and the kids that will keep our lifestyle and industry alive. Good luck to Mr. Kelly and Mr. Smith and good luck to all the people in the industry going through hard times right now. Up here in Canada we are just starting to feel the hard times but I know if we all stick together, we can overcome and move forward from this. Just my two cents, that’s about 3/4 of a cent US now!!! Ha!!


  5. 5 Jeff Nicklus Dec 5th, 2008 at 8:07 pm


    Thanks, that is very kind of you to say.

    As far as having something more affordable check out my other company, Desperado Motorcycles, at …. we always offer big discounts for our military personnel …… enough of the advertisement.

    Harry, I and every American owes you and every other man and woman in uniform our gratitude …. Thank you and God Bless each of you.

    Over & Out,


  6. 6 rocco Dec 5th, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    i have known howard for many many years since the beginning at hot bike . he was a jerk then and im sure he still treats people like hes the man . what a putz . i hope he ends up selling amway

  7. 7 A$$HOLE Dec 6th, 2008 at 3:58 am

    Jeff, Amen on your last point! We owe them more than we can ever repay.
    Kansas Patriot Guard

  8. 8 Scout Dec 6th, 2008 at 8:57 am

    Woah. James Simonelli, Kurt Patterson, Brett Smith and now Howard Kelly. It looks like a whole new company from here. My best to all of them and their families this season – including S&S’s stakeholders.

    Now, to business…is La Cross, Wisconsin gonna have some version of that wicked party that S&S tossed last summer? That kicked ass!!!

  9. 9 Mike (Kiwi) Tomas Dec 6th, 2008 at 10:55 am

    The 50th was an awesome time wasn’t it. All I have is my experiences of dealing with S&S over our bike build for their 50th Anniversary which I can’t speak highly enough about. EVERYONE I dealt with over it including the engineers of the X-Wedge engine were all 1st class. I would venture to say that whoever picked up an ex S&S employee would get someone of the highest caliber!
    And to you Scout, sorry to see you move but congrats on your new position.

  10. 10 Scout Dec 6th, 2008 at 11:15 am

    Hi Mike!!! Thanks for the congrats. It was tough to leave BAKER, but I had big ideas that I wanted to pull-off for us all. So, I’m having total fun over here too. My new gig has me spending a lot of time in Milwaukee. After hanging in beertown USA, and the S&S party in La Cross, I learned that Wisconsin is full of kickass people and bars. So, my Grand Rapids, MI crew wanna go back this summer to La Cross. Have you heard rumors about a city-endorsed bike rally? Anybody? Party anyone!?!?!

  11. 11 Scout Dec 6th, 2008 at 11:24 am

    …by the way, who replaced all the talent there at S&S?

  12. 12 Blue Dec 6th, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    Good luck to Howard – are commerical air chillers going to be quite the same?

    And yes, belated congratulations on the new job, Scout. We’ll miss you at the Custom Chrome Europe show next year.

  13. 13 Big D Dec 6th, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    Let’s face it gents, the industry is in the pits and it’s only going to get worse.

    Kelly did the right thing and has moved on to a bigger opportunity for himself and his family. It’s going to be years before we see anything worth while again.

    Too bad for all of us and our country.

    Think about it……we are all sitting around with nothing better to do other than time by posting our two cents on this magnificent blog.

    Thanks Mr.Bush……you are my hero!!!….I mean zero!!

  14. 14 harry Dec 6th, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    I thought that we were done with the politics and finger pointing. Here, we can agree or disagree on who builds the best bikes, whether H-D’s are better than Indian’s or Triumph’s, whatever…leave the politics alone for once. I’m even getting tired of that shit. President Bush will be out of office in less than 45 days, and President-Elect Obama will be in the hot seat at that time. Let’s leave the politics and all that other shit alone until then. Now lets get back to bikes…

  15. 15 Big D Dec 6th, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    In case that had you had not noticed Harry, politics affect the economy…..and the economy affects the motorcycle industry…….so you see Harry, the SHIT flows down hill.

    Accept the REALITY……….Kelly’s departure from S&S is due to the negative impact from a sad economy…….brought on by a dead beat Pres.

    I was unaware that you are the “official” spokesperson for this blog…..and you can tell us what we can and what we cannot discuss………….

    Ride on.

  16. 16 Mike Tomas Kiwi Indian m/c Co Dec 7th, 2008 at 2:25 am

    I don’t think we should jump to conclusions as to what Howard/S&S is upto. He seems like a pretty progressive guy and maybe a genuine opportunity came up and he took it. I can only speak from my time of being involved with the S&S anniversary build but everyone from S&S is top in their game, James, Scott S, Brent, Niven, Scott P, Howard and everyone else. Anyone who has left S&S has been snapped up straight away. That speaks volumes in itself about their people.
    There are some top companies in our industry and top people like Baker Trans and many others. I cannot think of a better industry or better people to be around!
    As to a slowing down in our industry (most of it is US wide/worldwide in almost everything now) no doubt it’s real but some see opportunities in down times to stake out their future while others see doom and gloom. It’s all part of the business cycle and I’m sure many can weather the storm. It isn’t the 1st one nor the last one!
    Scout, can you shoot me your email off line to
    Tx m8’s

  17. 17 Mike Tomas Kiwi Indian m/c Co Dec 7th, 2008 at 2:29 am

    I forgot to mention one other very helpful person who is tops in his game at S&S, Jeff B. Sorry mate

  18. 18 harry Dec 7th, 2008 at 9:22 am

    To Big D: With all do respect, I don’t consider myself any kind of spokesperson at all for this or any other blog, all I have to offer is an opinon, nothing more, nothing less. I will agree with you that you do bring up valid points on how the economy does affect the motorcycle industry and I do agree with you on that point. The reason I do enjoy coming to Cyril’s blog is to, well I guess you can say, is to escape all of the bullshit of daily life and talk about stuff that keeps me sane, like bikes, amongst other things. Do I care about what goes on in the world? Sure I do, but there are times when that stuff needs to take a rest and you can go somewhere and bullshit about the simpler, easier things in life where you’re not so stressed out. You might not like my answer, nor do I expect you to, opinions differ and I have no issue with that. We might agree to disagree with everything but if I ran across you at the bar, hell, I’d buy the first round and I’d be content to engage in some good discussion with you whether it was bikes or what the hell is going on in the world, but preferably conversation about bikes, that is one thing that brings me some enjoyment in this world.

  19. 19 Howard Kelly Dec 7th, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    I am leaving S&S not because of their business or issues with it, but simply to try something new and challenging. A review of my resume shows that since I was 16 I have worked with cars or motorcycles.

    This opportunity will challenge me to be the marketing and communications professional I think I am…new industry, new products, new types of people–can I motivate them to see the reasons to do busines with us? I will either will or lI will earn a lot about me.

    S&S is a strong company that is in the middle of reorganzing to meet the demands of an industry. When things were on fire, the original size of S&S was not enough and expansion was required. as things have slowed down, S&S must adapt to the market demand and adjust its operating structure–no different than any shop, restuarant or shoe store. S&S is going to be fine, there are a few trick new parts coming in the spring that should get some excitement going in the industry.

    What I will miss most are the friends I made in this industry–the real friends–not the “friends” who when I left the magazine and couldn’t do them favors stopped calling. This is an industry fueled by passion and relationships and all too often people forget that in the United States motorcycles are considered toys. We are lucky that people buy them, ride them and do work to them allowing us to wake up every morning and put food on the table fueled by our passion. The sooner the industry gets back to loving motorcycles, that enthusiasm will trickle down to the customers and sales will pick up.

    For those friends I have in this terrific industry, I will stay in touch because that is what friends do. For those that think they know me and anonymously critisize me, I strongly suggest you become the editor of a magazine, work hard to make it successful and see if you can survive the critiques that come with it. Remember, when I helped you by getting your bike or product in the mag, I was a hero, but the first time I told you I couldn’t help because the mag had just done a story on your bikes or products I was a jerk. I heard it each time you said it to others that really were my friends. So, to those who feel a need to bash me and hide behind anonymous comments, go do something worthwhile with your lfie and then we can talk. To my friends, expect to see me at an event–just hanging out and having fun, being passionate about motorcycles.

  20. 20 MJ, editor Dec 7th, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    I really do hope important companies in the industry are still around in years to come, without being bought out for the “name” factor… and run into the ground by “outsourced” labor, which is the story being repeated in manufacturing throughout the US. In my home town in the midwest, my daughter worked for a company that had been manufacturing corporate logo bags for 50 years at a 30 to 40 percent profit margin. But when they started shipping the materials to China, they got rid of 300 employees in the US and began selling at a 300 percent profit margin. … These are the companies that were still getting big tax breaks because they “create jobs”… But times have changed, and I hope that line-item by line-item these tax breaks will ONLY be offered to companies that actually create jobs in the US to offset the 500,000 jobs lost last month. Now, on a possitive note, there seems to be a growing market of buyers more interested in bikes of all types built by quality bilders like Red Neck Engineering, etc. verses a new H-D. At least that’s my take on it.

  21. 21 RF Dec 7th, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    Howard Kelly is one of those rare individuals that follows his heart. What ever Howard chooses to do he will be successful. That’s a fact. Howard could care less what people think about him, he is more concerned about taking care of his family & doing the best job he can for his employer. I for one would love to have Howard Kelly working with me every day. Howard is a winner! Our industry seems a little less friendly & a little less personal with the recent departure of such great people & industry giants like Nick Messer, Kim Suter & Howard Kelly. I feel like we have lost a good right arm! These 3 winners will be fine & dandy, that’s for sure. I think those of us that choose to remain in this industry that we love so much, should stick together & get through this economic slowdown. I am fighting with everything that I have & you know what, I’m winning. Sure, we are feeling the slow down, but that just makes me get up earlier & work harder than I’ve ever done before. I intend to grab this economy by the throat & kick the piss out of it! Motorcycles are my life & by God I’m not going anywhere & I hope ya’ll don’t either. Hey, you got into this industry because of passion, so now is the time to put that passion to work. I’m sick & tired of losing good people in this industry. Good luck to Howard, NIck & Kim & I’ll talk to ya’ll soon. To the rest of us in this industry, don’t get down, be positive & remember that the sun will shine on us & our industry again real soon & I think it’ll be brighter that ever! Now “Get back to work”!

    Rick Fairless
    Strokers Dallas
    Strokers IceHouse
    Strokers Ink

  22. 22 Jeff Nicklus Dec 7th, 2008 at 4:58 pm


    Well said brother …. well said!

    Over & Out,


  23. 23 Mike Tomas Kiwi Indian m/c Co Dec 7th, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    Heck Rick, You yourself are quite the guy and quite the inspiration weather it be your business, bike designs or your choice in paint designs in general. Many of us are enthusiasts and are very passionate about what we do, we just hunker down and make stuff happen around us and look on th bright side of things. If we keep ourselve occupied, our minds will not have time to wonder and think about anything but good thoughts. I like to make a positive out of a negative

  24. 24 Dave Dec 8th, 2008 at 4:24 am

    My faith in this site has been sitting on the razors edge for awhile now, but this stroke job is too much to handle. This guy is not all that, in fact there are many people that know him to be a completely self-absorbed wanker, not to mention a human resources nightmare. The fact that you put him on a pedestal like this further confirms that I have no desire to waste my time on this site any longer.

  25. 25 RF Dec 8th, 2008 at 8:36 am

    Hey Dave. What you call “put him on a pedestal” I call friendship. Is Howard a perfect person, no & neither am I, or you, or anybody else. Howard Kelly is a friend of mine & it doesn’t matter to me what he does for a living, he will still be my friend. Sounds to me like you might need a friend Dave.

    Rick Fairless

  26. 26 Gina Woods Dec 8th, 2008 at 10:39 am

    Good Luck Howard! Thanks for all your help & support…..I used to think you were a male chauvenistic jerk but you proved me wrong. In working with you lastly I enjoyed our talks and interviews and really got to know a different Howard…a softer side if you will..did I just say that here?
    It’s been a pleasure working with you and I wish you and your family much success!
    I hear radio is real good for “Air-Chillers”…..:)

    Happy Holidays to All!
    Gina Woods
    Open Road Radio, Inc

  27. 27 Kenny Price Dec 8th, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    we have been friends for a long time and no matter where your future takes you i wish you the best. i want to thank you for all the years of supporting motorcycling in every way you could. it’s a shared passion some of us cannot shake no matter what. i’m glad to know you as a colleague and a friend.
    all the best,
    kenny price
    samson exhaust

  28. 28 AnARchY MoCo Dec 8th, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    It looks like another industry icon has bit the dust. If you are true to the culture you don’t leave. You stay in, stick it out, and get thur. I am so sick of hearing about these guy’s following other interests. It all about the money. When the industry was fat due to some TV exposure, all these guys were there. Now that time are tuff, puff, there gone. Hell, it’s hard everywhere. Some weeks we don’t know how we’ll keep the lights on but we make it thru. And yes, I have a family to support so don’t give me that shit either. The people who drive this industry are the peolpe who get their hands dirty. If your true to the culture, you can never leave. It’s who we are. I can’t wait to see who comes out of the wood work on the next industry bubble. I guees a whole new batch of self made industry icons. What a crock of shit!

  29. 29 Dave Dec 8th, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Trust me Anarchy Moco, the industry is better off without this guy.

    Oh, and Rick, I got friends, plenty of friends. One of my friends is named Sora. Next time you talk to your good buddy Howard, ask him about Sora. Ask him how much of a bastard he was to her. Or you could ignore me and go tie-dye some shirts because we all know how hot those are these days.

  30. 30 Big D Dec 8th, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    Very well said Harry….I would take you up on that beer.

    Unfortunately, we are ALL going through some VERY tough times right now and it is beyond our control. Like Mr.Fairless responded, we all have to dig deeper and work it harder. AMEN!!

    As for Mr.Kelly, I wish him the best of luck on where ever he decides to go. I personally don’t know him. I am only familiar with him from the magazines that he once ran.

    I wish the best of luck to all in these sad times.

    Ride On Gents.

  31. 31 Noph Dec 22nd, 2008 at 11:08 am

    I’m actually glad to see Howard leaving S&S, although I wish he would continue to work in the Motorcycle industry.

    To those that say he’s an asshole, you have obviously never met the guy. I worked with him while at S&S, and he was a standup guy. To the point for sure, but definately not an asshole. He has great work ethic, and a very upbeat personality.

    As for the rest of the management team, I can say this was needed. I got to a point where I said screw it, because I was tired of dealing with the garbage slinging and rediculous people. S&S can succeed, but getting rid of the people dragging the company down will be a huge leap forward. Besides, the best of the best are, as far as I know, still there. Charlie Hadayia, Brent Glick, and Tom Smith are all still there. Combine them with George Smith, and you have what equates to a serious win for S&S.

    Losing Howard Kelly and James Simoneli is a loss to the company, and I wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors. I also wish S&S a strong and healthy future.

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Cyril Huze