Bikers flock to Flo's for free trim, shave or boot shine

LACONIA — For those who are cruising up Lakeside Avenue at Weirs Beach this Motorcycle Week, a manicure, boot shine, goatee trim or a clean shave may be something that sounds appealing.

And now, for the first time in the 92-years of the Laconia rally, and thanks to rally sponsor Progressive Insurance, it can happen and it can happen for free.

"Progressive provides excellent customer service and this is just and extension of that," said Matt Mondek who is one of Progressive's ambassadors.

Patrick Jansen, the official spokesman for Flo's Chop Shop — "Flo" being the bright, red-lipsticked saleswoman with the dark up do in Progressive Insurance commercials and ads — said Progressive wants people to know that it is the number one insurer for motorcycles since it started insuring them in 1964.

He said many times bike insurance is more like protecting a treasured piece of artistry when one considers all of the work and special attention owner/enthusiasts put into them.

"Its all about customer service and Flo's Chop Shop is customer service at its best," he said.

To show how they care, Jansen, who is the owner of Sin Central — a hot-rod and Harley Davidson shop in Atlanta, Ga. — said he was recruited by Progressive for Flo's at because of his reputation for excellence in restoring motorcycles and hot rods.

He said Sin Central is also known for donating a considerable amount of money annual to help Atlanta's children and Progressive wanted a company that was community-minded as well as professional.

"This is about beards, bikers and boots," he said, noting Progressing recruited some of the best in the business for Motorcycle Week.

Jansen said Progressive has brought to Laconia 10 brand ambassadors — eight women and two men — three barbers and three shoe shiners.

The shoe shiners are from Shinola Shoe Shine of Chicago and, according to their Facebook page, bring their services to Progressive for shows all over the world.

The professional barbers are from SHED Barbers in Austin, Texas. Michael Regino said they were approached by Progressive for Flo's Chop Shop in Laconia and were thrilled to be invited. He said his barber shop in South Austin takes barbering back to 100 years ago when there were hot towels, straight razors and all of the barbering traditions. A customer at SHED Barbers can also get a free beer or whiskey while waiting.

"I would return to New Hampshire in a heart beat," said Regino, noting he is staying on the lake and the water is so clear he can see the bottom.

Jansen said he had been riding for years and has been to the Laconia Rally a number of times. He said he stays in a friend's house on Lake Winnipesaukee and just loves coming to Laconia.

"From Atlanta, this is a big change in scenery," he said.

Jansen said Flo's Chop Shop plans on becoming regulars at Motorcycle Week in Laconia.

"Everyone here is so welcoming, Charlie (St. Clair) and Jen (Anderson) are just the best," Jansen said, referring to officials of the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association. "We'll be back, definitely."

Insurance executive survives small-plane crash

LACONIA — A local man was flown by helicopter to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center yesterday morning after crashing an airplane on his property about 500 feet southwest of his private, grass airstrip.

Police officials confirmed the pilot is 80-year-old Tom Volpe who lives at the property on Hadley Road, just north of South Down Shores/Long Bay gated communities.

Firefighters said it took them about 25 minutes to stabilize Volpe and extricate him from the aircraft. He was taken by ambulance to the former Laconia State School property, where he was transferred to a DHART Helicopter. Volpe suffered face, head and possible chest injuries and Fire Chief Ken Erickson said that responding EMTs and paramedics were able to stabilize him before putting him on the helicopter.

Volpe suffered a punctured lung, multiple facial injuries and an back injury.

Neighbor and friend Bill Kratochvil said he has flown a few times with Volpe and that he owns two planes — a bi-plane and a white Piper Tri-Pacer. Though kept at a distance by the relatives of the property owner, it appears the plane that crashed was the Piper Tri-Pacer.

"He is into flying a lot," said Kratochvil, noting Volpe served on the Laconia Airport Authority at some point in the past.

Volpe's son Stewart, died after a plane crash in the same area on April 15, 2000. He succumbed to his injuries 10 days later.

Volpe has long been president of Melcher & Prescott Insurance Agency in Laconia. He has been a principal owner there since he and the late Edward Miller bought the company in 1959. 

NTSB is investigating the crash.


CUTLINE: (SUBMITTED PHOTO) Laconia emergency crews remove a local man from his plane after it crashed on his own property just after 8:30 a.m. on Hadley Road.


According to the 2000 NTSB crash report, Stewart Volpe's plane took off headed south, climbed to 50-100 feet or "just over the tree-line" and began circling to the right. The plane completed 360-degree turn and was 10- to 15-feet nose high when the nose dropped. The plane's owner told investigators that he heard the engine running during the turn was couldn't recall if the engine was running during the drop. NTSB investigators determined there was something wrong with the fuel as it was "green in color, cloudy and resembled muddy water."

Counterfeit goods charge made against MC Week vendor

LACONIA – On Thursday, local police, working with a manufacturer's representative, conducted a check of some Motorcycle Week vendors in the Weirs Beach area for counterfeit products.

At 11:05 a.m., police served arrest warrants for Piechun Lee-tu, 54 and Cheng Lee-tu, 54 of Westfield, Mass. for dealing in counterfeit goods.

Both were book and released on $100 cash and $1,000 personal recognizance bail each and are scheduled for an appearance in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division on August 13.

The types of items seized were sunglasses, hats, T-shirts, sweatshirts and patches. The approximate manufactures suggested retail price (MSRP) on the items totals $30,300.