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John Parham – Keeping the World on 2 Wheels

John Parham
John, Jill and Zach Parham John, Zach and Jill Parham

John Parham was bitten by the motorcycle bug early in his life. His infectious enthusiasm for a life on two wheels led him to pursue his passion starting with a partnership in a small motorcycle shop from 1975 to 1979. Together with his wife Jill, John Parham turned his passion for riding into a business and created J&P Cycles in 1979 and thus helped thousands of motorcyclists worldwide enjoy two wheel adventures. During the early days of J. Parham Enterprises, Inc., the predecessor to the present J&P Cycles, John kept his full time day job and pursued this “hobby” in the evening and weekends. Shortly after the start of the business a series of unfortunate events which would have led many to give up occurred. John was laid off by his factory job in 1982 and tragically in 1984 their small motorcycle shop burned to the ground. Instead of giving up, John and Jill pushed on and decided to rebuild the shop. They then ran the business full-time. This perseverance led J&P Cycles to grow from one employee to over 300.

Enjoying motorcycles in action, John created events like swap meets, bike shows, drag races and first organized vintage motorcycle dirt track racing at the BlackHawk Antique Motorcycle Club swap meet at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds in Davenport, Iowa. Taking the store to the customer, John set up massive displays at events like Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, The Laughlin River Run and Daytona Bike Week. Unmatched drive helped John perfect product development, point of purchase and direct marketing through catalogs; John turned his motorcycling passion into successful retailing. DealerNews magazine named J&P Cycles the “World’s Largest Aftermarket Retailer”.

John and Jill

John also devoted his time and resources to amassing one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive personal collections of motorcycles, in excess of 300 machines, and shared them with the public via the National Motorcycle Museum, located in Anamosa, Iowa.

John was recognized for his passion when he was inducted into both the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame and also the Sturgis Motorcycle Hall of Fame. The AMA and American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation recognized John for becoming one of the greatest benefactors of motorcycling’s heritage. His contributions to the world of motorcycling are enduring and substantial.

John wanted people to enjoy motorcycling and was very conscious of customer service, always working for happy customers and, if asked, sharing what he’d learned. In 2015, J&P Cycles was recognized as one of the best customer service retailers in the U.S. by StellaService.

After a long battle with pulmonary fibrosis John Parham passed away on April 20, 2017. John impacted the motorcycle world in a major way and has left an enduring legacy that is carried through by the 300+ current employees and his son Zach Parham, President of J&P Cycles.

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