// Photo by George Rubaloff
Another visionary concept of Bramscher’s finally came to fruition late last year. Polaris Industries out of Medina, Minn., a company known globally for its snowmobiles, ATVs and motorcycles, made a big move into the electric-vehicle arena in 2012, acquiring both North Dakota’s Global Electric Motorcars (GEM) and France’s Goupil Industrie SA. In October, Polaris and Brammo consummated a four-year courtship when Polaris acquired a minority stake for $28 million.
Bramscher’s looking for more, but the Polaris deal “helped dramatically.” Besides the capital, the deal cleared the way for Brammo to offer financing for dealer inventory, known as “flooring,” courtesy of GE Capital. Further, consumer lender Sheffield Financial has agreed to terms with Brammo to finance retail purchasers, Bramscher says. “Most [financing] companies want to see you have a couple hundred million in revenue before they’ll start financing.”
Beyond the numbers, the Polaris investment allowed Brammo to remain an Oregon-based asset. Bramscher says seven other states were actively recruiting him to relocate. One state’s package of incentives totaled $41 million. He admits, “There are days when I think I could just stop fundraising and take the money and go.”
Now that Brammo’s purchase of the 100,000-square-foot former Walmart facility in Talent is nearly completed, and with the announcement of plans to establish an R&D office in Portland, Bramscher says he’s here to stay. “That’s the plan,” he offers with a wry smile, thinking no doubt of how “the plan” has changed in the past three years.
As soon as the deed is recorded for the Talent property, Bramscher will establish a manufacturing facility to “cover all R&D for headquarters, assembly of batteries for North America and assembly of motorcycles for North America.” The R&D office in Portland will bring together a number of freelancers currently working out of their homes in the Portland area. Brammo also has designers and engineers working in Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Bramscher’s ever-evolving plan means big doses of globe-trotting. Currently, Brammo has more dealerships in Europe than in the U.S. thanks to growing demand for the commuter-oriented Enertia R, which is being built in Hungary in partnership with global manufacturer Flextronics. Bramscher also is working on deals in Singapore and Hong Kong while eyeing expansion into Japan, South Korea and maybe Malaysia, among other possibilities, including Mexico. Wherever he goes, Bramscher carries the Oregon business brand proudly. He’s urging the governor and legislators to color that brand in brighter shades of green. “We’ve got this amazing opportunity,” he says. “It’s good to be green. It’s something that fits the state so well.”