On Thursday December 8, I received a call from Mona Alsop, not intending, as I requested 10 days ago, to give me a full statement on the Big Bear Choppers situation, but asking that we remove her phone number listed in “comments” by a person who could be an ex collaborator.
Of course, during this phone conversation, I asked her the questions to which all BC’s clients/vendors and the overall industry would like answers. To almost each of them Mona replied that BBC’s lawyer requested that her and Kevin make no statement. The only pieces of information I could get was: 1- that BBC tried hard to keep the business afloat, hoping for an investor to step in. 2- that the company will file for bankruptcy. 3- that Kevin would have contacted all clients who have legitimate issues regarding deposits or bikes paid in full and never delivered.
Mona refused to clearly answer my questions regarding: the foreclosure process by 2 of BBC’s lenders; if one way or the other BBC intended to complete the bikes ordered, paid and never delivered; if it is true that they already moved equipment/bikes/inventory to another location and which one; if BBC has the intention to operate under bankruptcy or if her and Kevin intend to start a new bike building business.
Before ending the conversation, and although I obviously respect the fact that their attorney doesn’t want BBC owners to talk to the press, I suggested again that it would be better for all those concerned by BBC demise that she provides me with a written official statement regarding her and Kevin’s intentions, and that I will publish it as is. For this purpose, a deadline of Friday evening December 9 was agreed between us but I still didn’t receive any statement as of today Sunday December 12, 2011.
Since I published my 1st article about BBC suspending its operations, I have received calls and emails from some of BBC’s clients who state that they have paid in full or given deposits, some 11 months ago, for custom bikes never started or delivered. Some have commented in writing in my website about their anger and frustration with the Alsop’s and of their impossibility to communicate with them. A well informed source formally working at BBC told me that deposits were still taken less than one month ago and that collaborators since a long time have tried to discourage Kevin & Mona Alsop to continue such practice when there was no hope that bikes could be completed. It seems that the number of bikes ordered by clients located in the US and abroad and never delivered would be quite high. I was also told by another source that inventory and tools would have been moved to an undisclosed location. I was unable to verify all these allegations, and as I mentioned above, I got only non-answers from Mona Alsop when I asked her to confirm or deny.
What is known for sure is that the 2 loans given to BBC by First Mountain Bank (147,000) and in second rank last April by Big bear Lake City Small Business Administration ($100,000) are delinquent with apparently a due principal higher than the original amounts of these loans. Apparently they were given on the basis of BBC’s bike orders. Such process is typical of what is requested by banks and non-fraudulent if money received for these orders is not already spent, partially or in full, for payment of general bills like salaries, rent, contractors not related to the cost of building each specific ordered motorcycle, etc. Money received to build motorcycles are trust funds belonging to clients. Some, in the industry, and although it’s not a legal requirement, cautiously put deposits in separate bank accounts to avoid commingling the company’s and clients’ funds, the right way to avoid legal trouble and the risk of felony charges if there is a legal breach of contract and the builder is out of money to start or complete a motorcycle. For a company, to deliver parts or a partly completed motorcycle for the corresponding deposit amount is also a breach of contract because the client ordered a completed motorcycle, not parts, nor a partial motorcycle because it’s still not a motorcycle until fully completed and road worthy. Now, clients I talked to are convinced that their money was illegally spent by BBC only for the purpose of keeping the company afloat a longer time.
My impression, and the one of a majority of people professionally close to BBC as former collaborators, vendors and clients, is that Kevin and Mona Alsop tried too long and too hard, and by all means, to maintain a business already showing signs of serious trouble at least 2 years ago. Is it terrible business judgment, greed gone too far, ego of its managers, denial of economic realities or a combination of all this that pushed the Alsops to continue taking deposits while they apparently knew very well that they didn’t have the human resources, the equipment and no more clients’ money to build their motorcycles? I don’t know for sure, but I think that if all allegations are confirmed it was for the Alspo’s taking huge professional and personal legal risks with possible very serious and long term consequences for both of them. From my point of view, it’s never worth it. (to follow)