Custom and Cool: SJ company commissions a chopper for charity

by Terri Akman
June 2, 2009 (Mount Laurel, NJ) - It’s probably about as cool as you can get. Custom choppers are specially designed motorcycles with intricate paintings and radically molded chrome. The guys who make them are tough. The guys who commission them are…geese chasers? SJ company commissions a chopper for charity.

After ten years of success with his Marlton company, Geese Chasers, Bob Young looked for a creative way to give back to the community. He wanted to think outside the box, do something extraordinary. He turned to Vinnie DiMartino and Cody Connelly – best known from the reality TV show, American Chopper, on TLC – and commissioned them to build a custom chopper.

“I told them I don’t want the bike to look like a big gigantic goose,” says Young, who lives in Mount Laurel. “I want it based on the Border Collie, how they stalk and how effective they are at goose control. They have a humane method of clearing geese and keeping them off of properties.”

The bike will be black with yellow highlights, but the final design will ultimately be decided by Nubby, the painter featured on American Chopper. “It’s really up to him,” says Young. “I don’t know what’s going on in his mind – he’s an artist.” DiMartino won’t tell much about the design of the Geese Chasers’ chopper; he’d prefer to let Young surprise everybody when it is unveiled later this summer. He did say that “it’s going to be a really good, classy-looking bike.” So good, DiMartino and Connelly will take the bike on tour later this year.

The chopper comes with a $100,000 price tag, which equates to about three years of Geese Chasers’ marketing budget. Young chose DiMartino and Connelly to build his bike because he’s a fan of American Chopper and was impressed with their mechanical abilities and fabricating skills.

Although the pair attained fame for their appearances on American Chopper, DiMartino and Connelly surprised fans by leaving the show about a year ago and starting V Force Customs only a few blocks away from Orange County Choppers, the shop featured on the reality show. They limit themselves to building three or four bikes a year so they can remain involved in every aspect of the process. “We build the bike from the ground up here, so it can take anywhere from one to five months to build,” says DiMartino. “We spend a lot of time with each bike, doing everything from the design to the manufacturing and all the programming that goes into it. We keep almost everything right here in-house, which gives us creative freedom, and also control over all the parts.”

The Geese Chasers’ bike will be built in the spirit of Young’s first Border Collie, Boomer. “He was the dog I started my company with, and he passed away a year ago March,” says Young. “The bike is going to be built in his memory, and specifically used for local charities, like the Make-A-Wish Foundation, to help raise awareness and money for their causes. The bike will make appearances at multiple events throughout the year for people to get a close look.”

“The bike was built for me to be able to pay it forward, to be able to give back and do something good for local charities in the area, and give back to the community at large,” says Young. “You go through life and reach a time when you really want to start giving back and I think I’ve reached that point in my life.”

Young started Geese Chasers by happenstance in 1999. He and Boomer were enjoying their daily exercise, playing Frisbee in a field by his house, when he was approached by John Goodwin, president of Ramblewood Country Club. “He asked me if I thought Boomer would be able to chase geese off his golf course,” remembers Young. “He was having a heck of a problem with droppings and the geese destroying the course. He had read in golf trade-journals that trained full-bred Border Collies were being used success-fully across North America to clear geese. He asked me if I’d be interested in bringing Boomer out to get rid of the geese.”

For Young, the decision was easy. He and Boomer would get exercise, and Goodwin promised Young free golf in return. Within four weeks, the course was clear of the 300 to 500 geese that had made it home. Though a physician’s assistant by trade, Young’s encounter led him to a new profession. He began contacting local communities and quickly found a large and loyal clientele. Golf clubs, homeowners’ associations, property management companies, park systems and even private residents continue to call on him to get rid of their geese.

Geese are a big problem in SJ, which is in the middle of the Mid-Atlantic fly zone, where over a million geese pass through annually. Mild winters allow the geese to feed here 12 months a year. “The Canada geese are now New Jersey geese,” explains Young. “It’s estimated that their population goes up about 15 percent annually.”

Young explains that Border Collies are successful at chasing geese because they mimic the Arctic fox, which is a natural predator of Canada geese. When the Border Collies approach a field of geese, they instinctively want to herd the birds. They crouch and enter into a wolf-like stalking position which scares the geese away.

“It’s worked like a charm for us over and over again,” he says. The process takes anywhere from four to 12 weeks, depending on the property. Young and his dogs come twice a day, first to get rid of the resident geese that live on a particular site. These geese find a spot and make it home, eating, building their nests, and laying their eggs there. Once those geese leave, Young’s dogs come back periodically for “touch up work.”

So where do the geese go when they are chased from a property? “Hopefully to my next client,” admits Young, “but unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. They go to areas that are very dissimilar to where they were chased from.”

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