Stakes in Big Dog may be sold

Big Dog Motorcycles owner Sheldon Coleman said the company is unlikely to be sold.

Demand for the company's high-dollar custom V-twin motorcycles has fallen precipitously since its glory days five years ago, and the company has had to cut nearly all of its workers and temporarily halt production.

Over the past four months, Coleman has sought to sell the company or recapitalize it.

Coleman said this week that after discussions with possible investors, it appears the most likely outcome is the sale of a minority stake or stakes in the company.

He said he needs capital to fund the company's rebound.

There are hints that interest in the company's products is beginning to return, Coleman said. He thinks there is pent-up demand, but consumers are not yet willing to buy.

The company still has a difficult road ahead.

"A lot of things still need to go right," Coleman said. "We need to find investors, and the consumers need to come back into the showroom to make this work."

The company will need capital to pay for a buildup in inventory and new product development.

"A company that's growing has large cash flow requirements," he said.

Coleman wouldn't disclose Big Dog's recent sales numbers.

The company suspended production four months ago but has called back some workers to restart production as dealers have placed orders.

The company builds only after receiving orders from dealers.

Another possible ray of hope is the company's foreign expansion.

In the past few months, Big Dog has expanded its presence in Canada to four dealers and is on the verge of getting approval to ship motorcycles to a small distribution network in Europe.

Although Harley-Davidson-style V-twin motorcycles aren't popular with most Europeans, there are some who like them.

"There is a band of riders that like the Americana of the bikes," Coleman said.

The company is also close to signing up dealers in the Middle East and in South America, he said.

Coleman said the company is confident it can increase sales by 20 percent through international sales.