In the Fast Lanes at 40
Forty years ago, the Lane brothers—Eugene, Calvin and Malcolm—all enjoyed racing. Participating in motocross, off road, enduro and flat track racing locally in New York as well as in Virginia, Florida, and Canada, they developed a sporting relationship with the Yamaha brand, a relationship that propelled them forward to today.
While the Lanes still enjoy racing and riding their Yamaha products, now they have a whole new way of showing support to the brand, as Lane’s Yamaha in Watkins Glen, New York, celebrates forty years of business this year.
“We thought it would be kind of nice to sell them. We started the business in 1973,” Malcolm Lane, current owner of Lane’s Yamaha, said. “We started small and just kept growing. We stayed with Yamaha only. We have been with the one franchise for forty years.”
It began as a family affair. Eugene started the business with Calvin and Malcolm working for him. In 1976, Calvin and Malcolm then bought the business from Eugene and ran the business together for most of the forty years.
“My brother Calvin and I were both union carpenters, and we did outdoor bridgework. There were some good busy years but some lean years, too. We just figured that it looked like a good steady year-round deal and that is why we decided to do the motorcycle business,” Malcolm said. “Then five years ago my wife, Cindy, and I purchased the half from my brother as he is nine years older and retired. He still comes in and helps, though.”
Members of the Lane family are employed at Lane’s Yamaha, including Cindy and Malcolm’s sons Craig (on left) and Keith.
“His children and our children have all had opportunities to work here,” Cindy said. “That has really worked well, giving them experience and work ethics.”
Calvin’s daughter Tracy has been the secretary since 1984 and both of Malcolm and Cindy’s sons, Craig and Keith, also work at the store.
“That is the plan: that it is going to stay the same Lane’s Yamaha through future generations,” Malcolm said.
“It is just real important to us to continue on as a family business, and treat customers as family,” Cindy said.
Of course, there are other workers within the business, but they might as well be family, too.
“Ronnie, our one mechanic, has been here for thirty years. We also have Jeff, Brian, and Kevin,” Cindy said. They are all important fixtures in the business, too. They all carry their end of the load.”
The store sells a wide range of Yamaha products, including motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, side-by-side utility vehicles, portable generators, and parts.
Since Lane’s Yamaha has been in business, they have sold 4,800 Yamaha four-wheelers and over 5,500 Yamaha motorcycles.
“Through the Yamaha program of being a pro Yamaha dealer, our mechanics are gold certified. It was important for us to be there in the top ratings within Yamaha. We are in a small area, and we don’t have a huge metropolitan region to draw from, so it is important to have good customer service and customer loyalty,” Cindy said.
Cindy and Malcolm are good at what they do, and they truly enjoy their business, although in true business sense, and without boasting too much, they are probably going to let their fortieth anniversary pass by with out much fanfare. After all, business means business.
“Things are going to be pretty low-key here, though. Our annual open house is our big kick-off, which will be on Saturday, April 6. That is probably when we will do a little extra,” Malcolm said. “To me it is not that big of a deal, but it is a milestone.”
“The local Watkins Glen Chamber of Commerce is working with us,” Cindy said. “They want to do a mixer where all of the chamber members can come visit here during the evening.”
In an ever-changing world, Lane’s Yamaha has proved that they can keep up with the pace, and still stay relevant.
“Yamaha has always been cutting edge. They are always coming out with something new and different. It has been a very good company to work with. I think things have just changed, such as the expense involved with doing business. We just have to go with what it is,” Malcolm said.
“Yamaha has adjusted, too, though,” Cindy said. “They let us order over the course of a year, instead of one-time ordering. That is how Yamaha is trying to maintain the dealers.”
So how does Lane’s Yamaha stay as popular as ever in Watkins Glen?
Cindy says it is because of the lakes and the wineries—tourist areas. Plus, there are many beautiful riding areas.
Malcolm adds, “We sell a lot of farming equipment, the all-terrain vehicles, to farmers in the area.”
“We have been here and we have been the same for so long. If you buy something from Lane’s Yamaha, you know Lane’s Yamaha is going to be there to take care of it after the sale,” Malcolm said.
“It’s important to be on that business rollercoaster and have the ups and downs, and continue to be here and enjoy it,” Cindy adds. “We want to continue on as a business with work ethics and enthusiasm. We enjoy riding. We get a lot of people together and we go for rides.”
So keep your eye on the road—forty years later, the Lanes are still enthusiasts, still riding their Yamahas out on the open road.