ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It’s easy to say that P.J. LaMariana has something of an eclectic background.
But it’s hard to see how being a chef or a musician prepared him to be the owner of PJ’s Motorcycles.
But perhaps his love of riding played a big role.
About 12 years ago, LaMariana decided he wanted to open his own business.
“I had three different options,” he said. “I had a food-service background. I had a music background. And I had a motorcycle background.”
The latter won out.
“I just decided to go that way,” LaMariana said. “I was an enthusiast and started riding when I was about 10 years old.”
When he looked into it, there was no Triumph dealer in Albuquerque, he said.
“I saw it as an opportunity,” LaMariana said.
But it was an opportunity the company was not entirely sure it wanted to embrace.
“There was a lot of hesitation because I didn’t have that background in a dealership,” he said. “But in all my other jobs, I was given responsibility. I always had management jobs. I had established a strong résumé.”
LaMariana had to undergo a rigorous vetting process and also had to create a business plan, find a location and stock it with product.
Then he had to transition from employee to employer.
“That transition is a double-edged sword,” he said. “You have the autonomy to do things yourself. But you also have the great responsibility. You just don’t know what that’s like until you do it. But there are enough positives to make it worthwhile.”
The bottom line, LaMariana said, was it was something he really wanted to do.
And the business took off immediately.
“We exceeded every projection,” he said. “We exceeded every expectation. Every year we grew greater than the year before.”
That is, until the end of 2008, when the economy’s downturn slammed into Albuquerque. Since then, however, sales have gradually climbed.
“And in 2012, we were pretty close to pre-recession numbers,” LaMariana said.
The company has added Ducati and Husqvarna, as well as a motorcycle leasing aspect.
“We’re pretty comfortable,” he said. “We’re at a good place.”