Tombstone Cycles man’s life ambition

Published 9:27 am Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Bill Turner and an employee talk with a customer about a motorcycle part. (photo by Anne Regan)

Bill Turner decided to take advantage of his new location in naming his Landrum business Tombstone Cycles.

“There’s never a problem giving new customers directions; telling them it’s next to the Landrum Cemetery on E. Rutherford St/Route 14 [works],” said Turner’s father Richard.

Richard first purchased the property from Thermal Belt Yarn in the 1980s to open Richard L. Construction. He said he was immediately drawn by the history he discovered and how, “the old survey shows chain and link, a metes and bounds survey.”

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The shop for Tombstone Cycles now sits in a part of the building that was the boiler room for a cotton gin in the early 1900s. Around the 1930s it was a hosiery mill.

It was here, in this old shop, where Bill Turner discovered his passion for motorcycles 24 years ago.

“My dad had a business in this building, since the 1980s. He rented space to a mechanic who fixed cycles and I would come and hang out,” Turner said.

Turner took his first ride on a motorcycle at age 5 and always had his eyes in a cycle magazine.

“I had a small repair business right here when I was 12 years old. I put a small sign down by the road and customers came,” he said.

When he was 14 he worked summers at a repair shop in Spartanburg.

Always repairing and trading up cycles, by 16 Turner owned his first motorcycle.  That summer and after school he took a job at Junk Yard Jacks in Greer.

While he attended Landrum High School and Swofford Technical School in his junior and senior year he was able to take courses in computer aided drafting and design.

“[Teacher] Steve Blackwell had a strong positive influence on me,” he said.

Eventually, after stints in Charleston and Aiken, Turner came back to take a position in Spartanburg as an engineer.

“I’ve always had a passion for it, always wanted to have my own cycle business,” he said.

With family and friends’ encouragement Turner opened Tombstone Cycles, a business he hopes to maintain through retirement. Tombstone Cycles offers motorcycle, ATV parts and accessories as well as a full service shop for servicing and repairs. On-site mechanic Bryon Wagner says it’s his “dream job.” He even recently had the learning opportunity to work on a vintage motorcycle.

During the week Richard Turner mans the service desk.  Saturday all hands are on deck with phones ringing, pick up on repaired cycles and customers coming in the door.

At age 36, Turner offers the necessary technical knowledge and customer service.

“Customer service is my priority,” said Turner. “We are doing well and have plans to expand, at this location, in 2013.”

You can reach the shop at 864-457-7388.