Seattle-area fans of BMW, Ducati and other high-end motorcycles got a rude shock last week when five local dealerships were shuttered by their owner, a Microsoft executive who is described as an avid motorcycle racer with little apparent experience in the industry.
On Thursday, workers at the five NobleRush dealerships — a joint BMW-Ducati-KTM location at 8100 Lake City Way in Seattle; a Ducati dealership in Redmond, and two multibrand dealerships in Auburn — learned that the businesses had been closed indefinitely, according to former employees, the previous owner of one of the dealerships, and social media posts by customers.
“The doors are closed until further notice,” a former employee confirmed Monday morning. There were also reports over the weekend that motorcycles were being removed from several of the shuttered dealerships.
The dealerships’ owner, Microsoft group program manager Howard Crow, couldn’t be reached for comment. A search of local court records found no related lawsuits or liens against Crow, or any bankruptcy filings.
The closures shook the local motorcycling world. “I cannot stress enough how huge a hit this is for the Seattle motorcycle community,” said Keith Thye, whose wife, Ann Thye, sold Crow the Seattle BMW dealership in 2015.
“Dealers come and go, but to have five go down all in one fell swoop is unheard of,” said Keith Thye, who was president of the dealership before the sale to Crow.
The closures also sparked panicked questions online from customers who had purchased new motorcycles and were now unsure when, or if, they would actually get their bikes.
“I just paid cash for a new bike there 2 weeks ago,” one customer of Ducati Redmond wrote on Facebook Saturday. “Was supposed to pick it up this weekend. Can’t get hold of anyone.”
Over the weekend, former employees at several NobleRush locations were working, without pay, to deliver bikes to customers and return bikes that had been brought in for repairs. “We are following through with our obligations to the existing customers,” the former employee said.
But as of Monday afternoon, there were still reports of some bikes being repossessed from several dealerships. Shortly before 3 p.m. Monday, a former customer emailed to report that a semi truck had backed up to one of the Lake City dealerships “and is loading bikes up now.”