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Custom Harley Davidson Builder, Fat Baggers, Inc., Receives Iowa Farm Bureau 'Renew Rural Iowa Entrepreneur Award'

Lucas County Motorcycle Creator Celebrated for One-of-a-Kind Bikes and International Clientele  

Gary Chipp, founder of Fat Baggers, Inc. (FBI), has always had the vision that his Chariton-based motorcycle shop would create custom bikes for riders around the world, despite not selling a single motorcycle kit at the first trade show he attended.  Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) says the Lucas County custom motorcycle builder, often called “a hidden gem in Southern Iowa,” has played a pivotal role in regional economic development and has been named the latest IFBF Renew Rural Iowa Entrepreneur Award winner.            

Chipp reflects back on a unique customer request to put big tires on a Harley motorcycle as the driver of his business expansion.  Prior to manufacturing motorcycle parts and accessories, FBI was just a custom builder until a customer’s unique request presented an opportunity to fill a void in the custom motorcycle market, and Chipp made the most of it.   “We started from a single customer request, working out of my dad’s Harley dealership, and then we hired our first two employees to manufacture the needed components,” said Chipp.  “Now, one of my long-term customers asked us to consider opening a Fat Baggers Europe dealership, and after a lot of thought and effort, we are launching Fat Baggers Europe later this year.”           

Even with international expansion, the Chipps have deep roots in southern Iowa, founding the motorcycle building and accessories business in 1973 and becoming a franchised Harley Davidson dealer in 1984.  The first customers of FBI were from southern Iowa, and they continue to serve their numerous local customers, but their growing customer base now includes the King of Saudi Arabia, King and Queen of Jordan, Prime Minister of Lebanon, and countless other clients around the world.                   

As demand for custom builds and products continue, FBI has grown to 30 employees and is recognized as one of the best skilled-trade employers in Chariton and a source of pride for Lucas County.  “It’s wonderful to have a successful existing business in your community,” said Christopher Watkins, Lucas County Development Group president.  “Economic development is more than just attracting new commercial businesses and employees; it’s also about working with existing companies to help them be successful and sustainable.”           

Renew Rural Iowa (RRI) is an IFBF initiative supporting new and existing businesses through education, mentoring, and financial resources.  For more information, go to www.renewruraliowa.com.  The next Renew Rural Iowa seminar, “The Journey to Your Vision,” will be held Wednesday, June 4, in Chariton.  For more information on the seminar or to register for the event, go to www.renewruraliowa.com/upcomingseminars.html.