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Construction contractor shifts gears to an off-road business


Entrepreneur takes business from part-time to full-time

Photo Credit: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Nate DeRoss opened Gresham Powersports last spring after a year of selling parts and pre-owned bikes and ATVs by appointment only. The 39-year-old Troutdale resident says the variety of people he encounters each day make the job exciting.

Every entrepreneur yearns to be sole proprietor of a business of their own design.

That dream came to fruition in March when Troutdale resident Nate DeRoss shifted his part-time venture to full-time and opened Gresham Powersports.

“I’ve been riding bikes since I was 7 years old,” said DeRoss, 39. “This has always been a passion. I figured if I could make a living doing what I loved, instead of swinging a hammer all day, why not?”

A construction contractor by trade, DeRoss took a cautious approach to business ownership. For months, he dabbled in the sale of parts and pre-owned off-road bikes and water craft, seeing customers by appointment in the evenings and on weekends.

Finally, his wife told him, “You have a year to get this out of your system,” and Gresham Powersports was born.

The company’s showroom and shop on Northeast Eighth Street carries an assortment of off-road gear, from helmets and apparel to two- and four-wheeled bikes and ATVs.

DeRoss employs two technicians, for rebuilds and service, and the company is one of the few places in East County where riders can get hard-to-find parts.

Business has been good since opening a few months ago, DeRoss said, but the trade-off has been less time to ride himself.

“I do get jealous when people come in on Thursday for parts and they’re going somewhere over the weekend,” he said.

Opening a new business in the current economy is a leap of faith and can be risky. What steps did you take to prepare for launching a small business?

“I started super small and tested the waters. I didn’t want to spend $40,000 on a parts inventory or take on a long-term lease with a building. I set goals each month so I could grow slowly. I didn’t want to go in too fast and lose everything. But people want to stop by when it’s convenient for them, not just by appointment. We’ve doubled our business since March. I knew that would happen when we opened full time. We’ve had record months for sales ever since.”

Where did the name ‘powersports’ come from?

“Originally, we were called Nate’s Rides n Waves, because we had water craft. But we had to change the name when we got into bikes. We thought about Motor Sports, But that could be cars. I looked up ‘power sports’ and that means anything with handle bars. We’re into anything off-road, so it’s Gresham Powersports."

How has your business changed since its original inception, and are there plans for its future?

“I wanted to sell pre-owned bikes. Then I got into dirt bikes and discovered grown boys, 14-40, buy dirt bikes. They’re just a bunch of overgrown kids out there having fun. A lot of this is simply building relationships with our suppliers and our customers. The ultimate goal is a bigger shop, of course, as long as it doesn’t have bigger headaches.”

What do you enjoy most about your business and your job?

“The best part is helping people find what they want. I love it when a kid gets their first bike.

They’re so excited — texting pictures to their friends, picking out their gear, making sure the colors match. That’s fun.

“But not knowing what’s going to happen each day is exciting. It’s not the same thing every day, especially when you get to meet somebody fun with a great story.”

Who’s your favorite young business professional?

The Outlook is interested in doing monthly stories on the best of the best young managers and staff members of businesses in East Multnomah County. If you own, operate or are a customer of a business in Gresham, Troutdale, Fairview, Wood Village, Corbett, Boring or Damascus, and know of an exceptional employee under the age of 35 who you think warrants some recognition, please let us know by contacting Business Reporter Anne Endicott at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. These should be people who are at the top of their game. We'll need a short description of why you think this employee deserves the recognition. We'll feature these people in our "Who to Watch" segment that will appear on our business page.