In the biker world, Kenny Price is called the “Godfather of Pipes.” Today … the godfather brings 30 new jobs to the City of Riders.
Right now, the 45,000-square-foot manufacturing plant for Samson Exhaust is just the beginning of a foundation in the Sturgis Industrial Park. Next April, Samson founder and Chief Executive Officer Price begins to move in heavy equipment and workers. All but two workers will be hired locally.
By July the company will be fully operational, cranking out high-performance exhaust systems for Harley–Davidsons and other types of bikes. “We will be manufacturing every day, shipping every day and the research and development department is always busy. We’re always making something new,” Price said.
“It has been a long time coming,” Price said at a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday. “Now I feel like a real part of the community.”
That long time coming started in 2005 when Sturgis began the courtship to bring the California-based bike company to South Dakota. “We knew one day we would get him here,” Dan Mayer said. Mayer was a Sturgis Economic Development Corporation board member who helped bring Samson to town. “But,” Mayor Mark Carstensen added, “things don’t happen overnight. It takes time, money and a lot of hard work.”
There was also a little competition. Price says several South Dakota towns tried to recruit him but because of rally history, Sturgis is the town for his company. “My heart has always been in Sturgis,” Price explained. “Sturgis was my choice because it is known worldwide as the City of Riders and to have our company be affiliated with the City of Riders was just a great idea; to have our zip code be here, in Sturgis,” Price said.
Price’s operation has come a long way since he first started in 1969, making custom exhaust systems at a bike shop called Cheetah Choppers. “The word got out that I was making some pretty good exhausts,” Price said.
That word finally brought him “home” to Sturgis.
Besides being a Sturgis Rally fixture for decades, Price has been one of the largest contributors of motorcycles to the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the museum’s hall of fame in 2008.