Motion Makers was founded by Norm and Dianne Harrell in 1986 when their son, Benji, was riding skateboards and BMX bikes. Norm was good at helping Benji’s friends with their wheeled fun and opened Motion Makers on Hwy 107 in Sylva, NC as a way to provide this sport to the Sylva market. Around 1993, they moved into a 1920’s building in the heart of downtown Sylva, which was just starting to revitalize from many years of vacant buildings.
In 1997, Dave and Sandy Molin purchased the store. They had moved down from Vermont to escape the winters. Dave, a practicing Pharmacist, worked at several pharmacies in the area until he noticed that Motion Makers was for sale. An avid cyclist, it looked like the perfect job to relax and enjoy his sport and get out of the corporate world of pharmacy.
In 2007, “Surly” Dave convinced Kent Cranford to consider buying the shop.
Kent started racing and working on bikes as a BMX kid in the late 70’s. Spurred on by his father’s love of riding and tinkering with bikes, he quickly learned the basics of flat changes and converting coaster brake hubs into freewheels and other BMX mods of the day.
At age 16, the local bike shop, Bicycle City, offered him some work during Christmas building bicycles, then during summers. While in college, he worked at Harper’s Schwinn in Knoxville, TN, then at Skedaddle Bicycles in Murfreesboro, TN.
After graduating from MTSU, Kent headed out to Colorado to visit his brother who was in school at CSU. While there, the call of the Rockies sent him job hunting where he found a job at Keystone ski resort for the rest of the winter. Near the end of the ski season, he took a job at the Knorr House in Breckenridge, CO assembling their fleet of rental bikes for that summer. Later that spring of 1991, a stop in Crested Butte, CO led to a two-year job at The Alpineer, one of the original Mountain Bike shops of the late 70’s.
An annual pilgrimage back East to the Tsali trails led Kent to the Nantahala Outdoor Center, where he took a job working in the "original" store and tasked with creating a real “Bike Shop” in NOC’s new outfitter’s store that was built in 1994. In 1995, he accepted a job with Litespeed Bicycles in Ooltewah, TN and worked as Marketing Director for two years. The job took him all over the US and Europe to attend shows and events helping to grow this small company. It was a dream job getting to rub elbows with all the cycling greats and seeing so many of the legendary cycling destinations.
The mountains of NC have a strong draw and in 1997, Kent came back to NOC to continue growing NOC’s biking program and interest in cycling in Western NC.
In 1999, Kent had tired of the tourism retail trade and decided to pursue his newest love in computers. After two years in that industry, with the “dot-com bust” looming, Kent saw a listing for the Territory Manager position with Specialized Bicycles covering the Southern Appalachian region, home of the greatest cycling anywhere and where he happened to live.
Over the next five years, Kent enjoyed his 1000-mile weeks on the road and spending half the weekends of the year at events representing Specialized. His 2005 marriage to Sarah and impending birth of their daughter, Beverly, in 2006, sent Kent into the booming real estate industry to stay home with his new family. This job allowed him to spend a lot of time in Sylva and Jackson County, re-kindling his belief in what a great cycling region WNC is. Little did he know that Dave asking him to come look at Motion Makers would save him from another Bust!
In 2009, the opportunity to open a second store 45 minutes away in the cycling mecca of Asheville, NC, could not be ignored. Kent had frequently asked his sales reps why there was only one large bicycle store in the booming town. One of those reps was Ben Hinker, who also wondered why someone hadn't opened a big store in Asheville. He immediately signed on as Manager of the store as soon as he learned of Kent's plan and was involved from the early stages of deciding where to put this new store. Another key person, Sara Jarrell, a Cullowhee native, had moved back home to WNC from California a couple of years earlier. She had quickly become a trusted source of knowledge at the Sylva store but had been making the commute from Asheville to Sylva to work. This gave her plenty of reason to help make this new store a place that people could trust with her skills as Service Manager.
Calling on the design expertise of the Specialized Retail Services team, the Motion Makers crew signed on to become an Elite Store with Specialized. This allowed for a quick opening in March of 2010 with a very clean and professional look that the team knew they wanted for Asheville while allowing it to remain a locally owned store, not just a factory footprint. The store is one of the largest in the region and has, we believe, the best selection of bikes and equipment so you can always find what you need.
Motion Maker's goal is to provide an unmatched experience to the customer in their pursuit of bicycle buying and riding. Everyone talks about great customer service, but we mean real, impassioned, “how-can-we-help-you-and-we-mean-it”, customer service. We Sell Happiness! Motion Makers is also committed to the growth of cycling recognition and the education of the general public and experienced cyclists about how to use the bicycle as a means of transportation, recreation, and personal escape.