For Alex Malik-Eisenhardt, Jay Eisenhardt, Neil Fullilove and Adam Fullilove, all equal owners of FullEise Motorcycles, their love and affection for fixing up vintage motorcycles led them on a journey not one of them expected. The four owners first met five years ago while working together at Gator Harley in Leesburg. Neil and Adam are brothers and Alex and Jay are now husband and wife.
The original idea, that ultimately led to FullEise Motorcycles, started as a hobby to buy inexpensive FXR Harley's and fix them up. According to Alex, the FXR is one of the best Harley's ever made. "Harley made the FXR for about 13 years beginning in the 1980s," she said. "The frames were built really well which allows for great customization and even better handling. It's definitely a niche market."
Over time, they were buying more and more used parts from one particular parts dealer in Pensacola. The parts dealer approached the group about buying his business. After some back and forth, Alex, Jay, Neil and Adam pooled their money and purchased FXR Robert in early 2017. "The sale of the business came with an Instagram account with a huge following, a solid customer base and all of his inventory, which filled up a 30 foot long box truck," Alex said. "Jay and I put most of the inventory on Jay's property in Webster. We bought shelving and modified a barn to handle all the inventory."
Not long after purchasing FXR Robert, they changed the name to FXR Warehouse. Business was decent, but they were sitting on a lot of inventory and needed to find other revenue stream opportunities. This is about when the idea of adding a service center to their business first entered the picture. "We looked into using our property in Webster for commercial service use and, because of zoning requirements, we found out we couldn't do that," Alex said. "So the hunt was on for a space where we could open up a service center."
In November of 2017, Neil and Jay discovered a space for sale in Bushnell. They met with the owner and told her about their aspirations and plans for the building. Appreciating their passion and vision, the owner agreed to sell the building at a very reasonable price. It's a good thing because the 100 year old building needed a lot of work.
"Getting the place ready to open was pure hell," Alex said. "The building still had much of the original flooring, which consisted of concrete and hardwood. The fire inspector said the floor needed to be sealed because of oils coming off the bikes. We had to find someone to help us tear up the floor. We wanted a cool metallic epoxy flooring. We finally found a guy, but he ended up walking off the job and left us with 10,000 pounds of concrete. That set us back three to four weeks. We then went on Angie's List and found someone from the Gulf Coast willing to do the job."
Their second biggest issue was dealing with a roll up door. "It was a big hassle to get that door installed," Alex said. "The company doing the install left a huge eight foot hole in the wall where the door was going to be and didn't make it back to install the door for over a week. During that time, Neil actually slept in the shop to keep an eye on things. Discovering issues in the building was like peeling an onion. We found termite damage, leaks in the wall and other issues, but we were all very determined and giving up was not an option."
A week or two before opening, the unthinkable happened. Neil, co-owner and their lead mechanic, was struck by a car while driving his motorcycle to work. He was in the hospital for a week with a broken ankle, collapsed lung, fractured face and other injuries. Neil's accident was nearly a breaking point for Alex. "I completely collapsed at that point," she said. "I had no idea what was going to happen or how long it would take him to recover. Very stressful times." Despite the setback, they were still able to open their doors on March 26th, 2018. Neil is still on a cane, but he's healing and doing better than everyone thought he would.
We asked Alex about local competition and what the future holds for FullEise Motorcycles. "There's very little competition in Sumter County," she said. "The closest shop is at least 15-20 minutes from us and they really only focus on servicing the bikes they sell. Looking ahead, I definitely have dreams and aspirations. In five years, I hope we're buying a bigger building and servicing even more bikes. The response from the community has been great. We definitely plan on staying in Bushnell."
Alex offers up some great advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. "Take the chance," she said. "I walked away from a dealership that my family owns. It wasn't an easy decision. In fact, it was scary as hell. It won't be easy, but you'll feel so much better about yourself and what you're accomplishing. You'll have something to show for all your efforts."