Thursday, August 3, 2017
OSCAR STORY: KURT MILLER
I’ve always been a Ducati guy and I’ve never owned anything non-Ducati. This brand is the whole reason why I got into motorcycling. I saw one for the first time and I knew I had to have it, right then and there. It was like seeing the girl of your dreams and all of a sudden, everyone else disappears.
There has always been a temptation to switch to a bigger bike, don’t get me wrong- you know, go to the 1299 or whatever else- but I convinced myself that 160 horse power and 420 pounds fully fuelled was definitely more than my skill level. I’m also the type of person who ends up, to my own discredit, spending more time adding parts to the bike than I enjoy getting to ride it; half because of my busy schedule and the other half is because I turn into a huge poser with these carbon fiber sparkplugs and things of that nature.
So it had to be this 2016 Ducati Panigale. It was way out of my league but still in sight as far as my skill level and at the end of the day, when I look at it, I don’t see any other bike I would rather have.
I’ve been riding for about 10 years now. I wasn’t inspired by anyone in my family. My mom still calls it a “death machine,” and does not know that I ride, to this day. My influence was my childhood best friend, who was a total gear head. He had this 916 poster on his wall and I looked at it and asked, “What’s this?!...Tell me more about it.”
It sort of festered for 9 years until I was financially independent. Then one day I saw a new Ducati 749S and I was completely obsessed with it. I learned everything I could about it. I found one for sale on craigslist and knew it had to be mine. I didn’t even have my motorcycle license at that point. I ended up getting my license and over the weekend I did the MSS course, solely because of this purchase. On Tuesday or Wednesday, I bought a one-way ticket to Seattle. The owner of the bike met me at the airport. I bought it, hopped on the bike and rode 800 miles home along the coast back to California over the next two days.
The first time I had ever ridden down a street was when I swung a leg over the bike at the airport and I took off. The owner knew. As I hopped on, he gave me a look like, “Oh, this is going to be a mess.”
I actually got an email from him asking, “How was the ride back down? Did you crash? Are you in the hospital?”
When I was younger, maybe 7 or 8 years out of college, I was the “Boiler Room” guy and I was always chasing money. I was doing the Wall Street, fun financial job until the great recession hit. I had front row seats. I got to see how some of the policies the company I was working for were negatively affecting mom and pop shops and the like. I was still in New York City by the end of the recession (2011-2012), still working in finance at a major bank.
One day I was sitting on the couch and my fiancé looked up and said, “You look so unhappy. You look so stressed out. Why are you doing this?” and I was looking at a message board or blog about Ducati’s. She goes, “Why don’t you do that? You clearly spend all of your free time on it.”
That following week I quit my job, walked out of the bank and walked straight into Ducati, in New York City. I walked back out and walked back in a handful of times for the next 2 or 3 weeks. I wanted to get into the motorcycle industry and I knew we were moving back to the Bay area, where Ducati North America was located. I figured I might as well try to get some intel on the industry if I’m even going to have a chance. After weeks of borderline criminal harassment of the owner, Steve Rad (of Ducati NYC) he asked me, “What do you want? Why do you keep coming in here?”
I said, “I’ve sent you my resume 4 times and have not received a reply. Here’s my deal; I’m moving back to California… I love Ducati and I’d like to come work for you the next three months that I have left here.”
He said, “I’d love to help you but we just filled our last position.”
To which I replied, “I think you’re not understanding me. I’m not asking to be paid. I just want to come in and learn as much about this business as possible.”
I made him an offer he couldn’t refuse and he said, “I guess I’ll see you on Tuesday.”
He finally gave in.
Steve was great. He had me doing everything from looking over the books to hand washing the bikes. I got to learn the dealership side from the ground up and within two months, Steve called the CFO of DNA and said, “You’ve got to hire this Kurt kid!”
A week later I got a phone call. After that, I eneded up working at DNA for the next four years.
Right now, I’m in a great place in my life. If I’m riding, I will always be in a good place.