There’s nothing better than when you introduce two people who you know have a lot in common, and just as you expected, they really hit it off. Well, maybe there’s something better –stepping back and listening to them completely geek out on their shared passions.
That’s the spirit behind this, the first in a new series of interviews brought to you by 40 Grit. Every interview will feature one trade or craft, and two people who put their own unique spin on said craft. In most – if not all – cases, they’ve never met before. We’ll ask a few questions to get the conversation started, turn our cameras off in the video chat and let our independent innovators trade stories, tricks, pains and passions while we remain flies on the virtual wall. Meet J Shia (@jshia), custom bike builder and owner of @madhousemotors, and David Plotkin (@itsdaveyp), vintage bike restorer and owner of @burnupcompany.
Part 1 of 3. Photos by Gretchen Devine (J Shia) and Vincent Anthony Conti (David Plotkin).
J: Yeah, so David. I heard that my buddy Lucas came and visited you.
DAVID: Yeah, yes he did! Really nice guy.
J: That’s so funny. That kid – I give a lot of credit to why Madhouse is even still a company. He’s definitely a character and I’m glad he met you. Have you guys been OK during Covid?
DAVID: Yeah, we’ve been really, really busy. You know, I thought when this thing first set on about year ago, I said shit, you know the first thing people are going to stop spending money on our toys.
DAVID: And, uh, was kind of bracing for that. And boy, was I wrong. It felt like everybody kind of went home from work and looked around in the garage and said, well, what can I start playing with now?
J: Definitely, definitely yeah.
DAVID: Has it been the same up there?
J: Yeah. I think up here, because public transportation is such a main way of people getting around Boston itself. More and more people are skittish about hopping on the train and they’d rather have a solitary form of transportation. They don’t want to take an Uber or a train or a bus, so everyone’s been interested in getting motorcycles. We’re not a dealership, but apparently the dealers are going crazy selling everything, and we’ve been OK during Covid. Just scheduling is kind of hard, ’cause we don’t want too many people in the shop at once, but it’s been OK.
DAVID: Yeah, when Covid first hit, we battened down the hatches and locked the doors and went appointment-only. And it’s been a slow transition. I mean Florida, as you may know, is like one of the few states that seems to have stayed open regardless. Which is a double-edged sword for sure. But that being said, we’ve been kind of figuring out ways to safely maneuver around that and still keep our operation going. A big part of what we do is bring the community together. You know, I mean the same thing with Madhouse. So it’s like, how do we still maintain that? How do we still bring people together, but safely? And that’s the moving target right now.
J: Yeah, I know. It’s a huge question. I know you guys do a bunch of custom builds. You guys also are a service shop, right?
DAVID: Yeah, we do anything from a simple oil change up to nut and bolt restoration or a custom build.
J: You’re in Miami, right?
DAVID: In West Palm Beach. But we get a lot of customers from Miami. We pull a lot of people from Miami, Fort Lauderdale. We get customers sending stuff up from the Keys. We got a lot of North Florida guys. We’re getting some stuff sent down from Georgia now…so we’re seeing more and more stuff come further and wider. And I do my best to help logistically and get stuff shipped here.
J: Hell yeah, dude, that’s awesome. I hope to come visit at some point.
DAVID: Yeah, I’d love to have you. Likewise. I plan a trip up north this summer and hoping things kind of simmer down and maybe as the vaccines roll out, numbers will keep depleting and it’ll be kosher to come back up there.
J: Where in the north are you coming to visit?
DAVID: So I was born and raised in Westchester, New York. So my family is still up there and I usually try to kill two birds with one stone. I got friends who live in the city, so I usually try to do one or two nights in Brooklyn or Manhattan and I ride. I send the bike up there and I just travel. I usually put about a thousand miles on in a handful of days and I’ll do New York City. I’ll go see my dad up in the Catskills. I’ll go out to Connecticut where I used to live, visit my friends out there. Bounce back to see my sister in Westchester. Come to Madhouse – that’s on my destination list.
J: Well, you got a place to stay if you come this way.
DAVID: Well, likewise, we’ve got plenty of space.