Like father, like son.
For Richard and Ian Riley, the 48-year journey of Fredericktown Yamaha has brought this phrase to reality.
“I feel lucky to work with my dad every day. He is a real asset to this business,” said Ian. “I don’t ever want him to doubt his worth here.”
To hear 77-year-old Richard Riley tell the story of how the shop was started is like taking a walk through history, starting first with a mother, Geraldine Riley, who told him he could never have a motorcycle as long as he lived “under her roof”.
During a three-day shore leave with the U.S. Navy aboard the U.S.S. Hoist in 1966, Richard bought his first bike, a blue Bultaco in Barcelona. “I was on the ship that helped to find and retrieve the hydrogen bomb. I figured I was ready for my first motorcycle,” Richard said, noting it cost just $319 in American dollars.
When Richard returned to the States he attended George Mason University using the GI Bill and worked various jobs before joining with two men to run Virginia Cart and Cycle in Springfield, Virginia, in 1974.
One year later, Richard had the opportunity to acquire a Yamaha dealership in Frederick, Maryland, with the help of Robert Lindquist, the owner of the land where the dealership was located. “He gave me an advantageous rent and a $5,000 line of credit. Without that, and the portion of the down payment I had from Virginia, I wouldn’t have been able to take over this business,” Richard explained. He took full ownership on September 7, 1975.
Located on the corner of Grove Road and Route 355, or as Richard likes to say “the corner of walk and don’t walk,” Fredericktown Yamaha has stayed put in the decades since Richard took ownership, despite changes and growth that have blossomed around it. “Once upon a time we were on the outskirts,” he explained. “It was all farmland, except for a quarry across the street and Mays Deli nearby.”
As the oldest Riley son, Ian, 52, has fond memories of hanging out at the shop after school and helping over the summer. “I remember coming here a lot,” recalled Ian.
In addition to having picnics at the shop or visiting the cows across the street, Ian also spent a lot of time racing dirt bikes, not only around the dirt lot adjacent to the shop but at local tracks, eventually holding a professional Motocross license from 1991-1999.
“My most valuable times with Ian were when we were up at 4 AM, on our way to a day of racing,” Richard recalled. “We created a bond that has allowed us to talk about a lot of things.”
That bond has carried itself into the operation of Fredericktown Yamaha. Although he has been dubbed by his dad as the “longest continued employee”, Ian’s career path took him away from the family business for a number of years before bringing him back to work full-time alongside his father.
Following high school graduation, Ian attended Salisbury University, earning a Business Administration degree with a minor in education. He continued to race on weekends but landed a job as a Tech Ed substitute at New Market Middle School, where his mom Sharon was a geography teacher. Ian taught drafting at Frederick High School until leaving in 2002, to become a sales rep for Fox Racing, a motorcycle apparel company. “It gave me a more flexible schedule to be with my daughters,” Ian explained; he briefly returned to the classroom in 2006.
Through it all, Ian still helped his dad on weekends and came back to the family shop as general manager in 2008. “Being away allowed me to learn a lot. I came back with a new mindset and more skills to help the business.”
Not only has Ian’s time with the business evolved, but so has Fredericktown Yamaha. “It starts with a love for two wheels,” Ian explained. “That love changes not only as people become adults, but also as the world changes.” In addition to an inventory of new and used motorcycles, dirt bikes and ATVs, they recently expanded to include electric bicycles, thanks to Ian’s insights on the changing times.
“I would have ignored them [electric bikes] because it’s always been about gasoline for me,” said Richard. “Ian eats, sleeps, and breathes this business. He knows what it needs to keep delivering our best to a community that has helped us so much over the years.”
Together, Richard and Ian are excited to create more relationships and memories for the Frederick area. “This community has allowed us to be who we are and what we are for so many years. They have embraced us—we want to continue to show our appreciation for that,” said Richard, noting his wife (Sharon) and two other sons (Kyle and Brent) have also helped the business in many ways over the years.
“Our business has given us the opportunity to get to know many people,” Ian agreed. “Everyone has a story—if we can be a part of their story and they can be a part of ours, that’s really what we are all about.”
“I feel lucky to work with my dad every day. He is a real asset to this business, I don’t ever want him to doubt his worth here.”
“This community has allowed us to be who we are and what we are for so many years...[Frederick] has embraced us—we want to continue to show our appreciation for that,” - Richard.