This year marks the 10th anniversary of motorbike speed shop and dealership The Transportation Revolution New Orleans. The commemorative birthday represents a milestone for a local family business that is becoming a major player in new industry development in the region.
The company opened as Vespa New Orleans in Mid-City in July 2002 by Gayle and Stephen Materne after the couple fell in love with the two-wheeled vehicles on a family trip to Italy. With the return of Vespa into the U.S. market in 2001 after a 20-year hiatus, the Maternes saw an opportunity to bring the scooter lifestyle to one of the country’s most European cities.
With the increasing demand for Vespas in the city, the business quickly outgrew its Mid-City quarters, and the Maternes broke ground on a downtown dealership in April 2005. A few months later, Hurricane Katrina destroyed the Mid-City location, delayed construction of the downtown store, and displaced the family to Baton Rouge, where they continued business operations from their temporary home.
By February 2006, the Materne family had opened their downtown shop at Julia and Baronne. Over the next few years, with the help of Gayle and Stephen’s sons, Zachary and Maxwell, the company evolved into more of a lifestyle-driven business than just a dealership, as Vespa New Orleans sought to acquire more European luxury motorcycle brands. By 2008, the company had transitioned into The Transportation Revolution with the addition of British manufactured Triumph and Italian-based Ducati motorcycles (now part of the Audi family of vehicles.)
“The opportunity to grow the business has been really unique because the market was open,” says Zachary Materne about the success of bringing a new type of cultural product to New Orleans with TTRNO’s expansion. “We have been able to corner the market before anyone knew it was even there.”
The family business, now predominantly run by Zachary and Maxwell, continues to expand, offering not only motorcycle sales and service, but also parts and accessories, apparel and e-commerce departments. In addition, The Transportation Revolution has recently partnered with NOLA Motorsports Park in Avondale, with a motorbike speed shop located at the new $65 million motor sports facility. The new shop offers trackside valet, motorcycle maintenance service, gear rental, and even a trackside lounge.
TTRNO and NOLA Motorsports have already lured large corporate events to the region, including a Ducati motorcycle launch in April and the launch of Subaru’s new sports car last month. Together, the two events brought in about 2,000 dealers from across the nation and filled more than 4,000 hotel rooms in the city.
NOLA Motorsports Park has also contracted with AMA Pro Racing to hold its final races of the season at the 750-acre complex for the next three years, beginning with this year’s event in October. This Super Bowl of motorcycle road racing adds to the city’s repertoire as a premier sporting events host city, and puts the new park on the map with its international standard racetracks and other premier amenities.
The Transportation Revolution New Orleans will be hosting “Test Fest Party” at the Speed Shop at NOLA Motorsports Park from on Tuesday June 26th from 6p-8p with drinks and light food plus a chance to meet and greet with the riders who will be competing in October.