Meeting the Challenge
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By Mike Greife
At an age when many successful business owners are looking to a leisurely retirement, Stanfield embraced the physical and mental challenges of the 14-day motorcycle endurance rally. His interest in riding and racing motorcycles has resulted in the ownership of two successful motorcycle dealerships, and their sons own a dealership. But it was the challenge from a customer that led him to try the Dakar Rally.
Stanfield grew up on the family farm near Centerview, Mo., graduated from Warrensburg High School and received a degree in accounting from UCM. He worked for an accounting firm for seven years before joining the administrative staff of Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City, where he eventually became the director of data processing and business administration. In the meantime, his motorcycle hobby grew into part ownership of a motorcycle dealership where he was a regular customer.
"After four years, I left the partnership," Stanfield said. "We were selling Husqvarna motorcycles, a Swedish motorcycle that was gaining popularity in the U.S. in the early '70s. Husqvarna contacted me about taking over the franchise. I really didn't want to own a business---I had a job---but I began selling them out of my basement."
Five years later, an opportunity arose to buy a motorcycle shop in Grandview, Mo. The Stanfields bought the store, hoping to hire someone to manage as they both worked full time. But as the business grew, they realized they had a decision to make. Jennifer took a sabbatical from her job teaching elementary and middle school science in the Belton School District, and Stanfield then took a sabbatical from MCC. By then, they realized that they were in the motorcycle business, and Stanfield left MCC after 10 years to run the business full time. Freedom Cycles eventually expanded to include a store in Warrensburg, Warrensburg Cycle, which was owned by Stanfield's brother.
By the late 1990s, the Stanfields began to look for new challenges.
"I was still racing, but between my age and the challenges of the business, I was looking for something new." He and Jennifer began scuba diving, something they still enjoy today. Then came the challenge from a customer that led him to Dakar.
"We had a regular customer who was originally from South America but was now living in the U.S.," Stanfield said. "Previously, the Dakar Rally had been run in Africa for several years but the political climate caused the race to be moved to South America in 2009 which logistically was easier to participate. I kept saying I didn't have the time and I don't have rally experience, but he wouldn't take 'no' for an answer."