SHERIDAN — When Jamey Gilkey looks out over Interstate 90 from the entrance to his business, he sees more than just a symbol for one of the greatest passions of his life.
He sees an untapped opportunity.
A biker and longtime veteran of the local construction industry, Gilkey recently expanded his motorcycle repair shop into a 2,400 square foot building on East Ridge Road.
And while he’s excited to offer an increased array of services to area riders, his vision for Old Man G Performance entails further expansion into the realms of hospitality and entertainment.
In doing so, he hopes make Sheridan a biker destination.
“Sheridan by itself is a cool town,” Gilkey said. “We’ve got a lot of stuff to offer if we can get those bikers to stop.”
The seeds of his idea were planted in 2007 when Gilkey purchased his first Harley Davidson. Several years later, he still looks back on that decision as having been an important moment in his life.
“Everything changed after that,” he said.
Burnt out with the construction industry, he sold his business and moved to Phoenix where he enrolled in the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute and earned his certification as a Harley Davidson technician.
After a period spent honing his craft in Texas, Gilkey returned to Sheridan to establish a motorcycle business of his own. He reports having been inundated with business since the day he opened his doors.
Earlier this year, he realized it was time to expand and began searching for available space. He ultimately decided on the warehouse on East Ridge Road.
The decision to move into the new space was nerve-racking, but Gilkey said his vision necessitated it.
“I told my wife, ‘I’m going all the way, and either we’ll make it or we won’t,’” he said.
So far, at least, he seems to be making it.
In time he hopes to transform the business into the kind of biker hangout found in other cities near major travel arteries. He imagines a restaurant, bar and lodging amenities among other features.
By providing those elements and encouraging bikers to spend more time in Sheridan, he believes existing businesses will win new customers as well.
Sheridan Planning and Economic Development Director Robert Briggs agreed, saying an attempt to capitalize on the city’s proximity to the interstate and nearby biker destinations such as Sturgis, S.D. could prove to be a positive move for Sheridan.
While other businesses including Big Sky Cycle also cater to the biker community, Briggs said there still exists an opportunity for further growth.
“If there are ways to tap into that and expand and support other businesses, we’re all behind it,” Briggs said. “The more diverse an economy is, the healthier it is.”
For now, the only other employee at Old Man G Performance is a technician named Pat Courtney. A native of Yelm, Wash., Courtney too said Sheridan — given a certain level of determination — could go on to become a serious biker destination.
Currently, however, he believes too few bikers see the community as anything more than a stopover on their way to somewhere else.
“I think they pull in here, grab some gas and go,” Courtney said.
But if Gilkey has his say, that won’t be the case for long.
While future expansion plans for Old Man G Performance are still tentative, he said he’s currently receiving about five new bikes each day. Additionally, he’s reached out to local economic development officials in the hopes of sparking a conversation about the potential benefits of drawing in more bikers.
And although his new shop already provides a serious special upgrade when it comes time to perform repairs, Gilkey is hopeful that yet another change isn’t too far down the road.
“Hopefully it will be too small before long,” he said.