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The ex-pat who married passion, quality and service together and rode into a new life in Thailand

Kevin Merrell came to Thailand for a few months of rest and relaxation. Six years later he is a partner in two companies that have transformed his passion into a new life.

Seattle, Washington born, Merrell, owned a substantial construction company in the US, developing the business through ever-larger projects until one day he decided to sell-up and change his life style.

Friends invited him to stay in Thailand for a few months and spend some time following his personal passion for motorcycling. Having been a rider all his life, Kevin soon started to explore the country on a motorcycle, surprised that you could ride here all year round.

His friend had just bought a Ducati, now built by the Italian manufacturer at their state-of-the-art facility in Rayong, Thailand, and Kevin, who had never been particularly interested in the iconic brand, was impressed to discover its performance and build quality. He bought a Ducati himself and soon made another discovery… the incredible touring routes around Chiang Mai and the once-in-a-lifetime experiences they had to offer. He decided to marry the two discoveries together by investing in a fleet of brand new Ducati Multistrada motorcycles and forming a high-end, fly-and-ride touring business based in Chiang Mai.

So far, so good, but there was a problem on the horizon that he had not accounted for. He had chosen the routes and hotels for the tour, built the website and created the Ducati Adventure Rides of Thailand (DART) business, his next challenge was to find somewhere to have the beautiful Ducatis serviced and well looked after. Not such an easy task in Thailand, just ask any local motorcyclist.

Kevin remembers: “There were a lot of great looking showrooms around, but few of the staff knew what they were talking about and the workshops were below industry standard with little or no communication. Back home, I guess you take experienced mechanics and well-trained staff for granted.

Here, it seemed that dealerships are often owned or managed by people with no genuine interest or passion for motorcycles, but in a dealership passion must flow from the topdown. Customers buying premium motorcycles need to be able to talk to staff who are at least as passionate and experienced as they are, otherwise it’s like being sold designer shoes by a barefoot salesman! You wouldn’t accept it, right? Don’t get me wrong, there are some dealerships here doing a great job, let’s just say they represent a minority.”

And so, impressed by Ducati motorcycles, but lacking a reliable store to have them serviced in, Kevin decided to buy, relocate, restaff and rebuild the Ducati Chiang Mai dealership into a service flagship. Now, all staff are bi-lingual, passionate motorcyclists and the workshop is managed by an experienced ex-pat. They opened just nine months ago, but have already become an attractive destination for local and not so local motorcyclists, with impressive events and a Chiang Mai Desmo Owners Club.

Kevin explains: “Apart from serving the Northern regions of Thailand around the Chiang Mai area for official Ducati sales and service, we also now have customers ordering Ducatis from Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket. We also run our DART tours activity out of our new Ducati Chiang Maibuilding and that has attracted owners from those same cities to either fly-and-ride on our special tours with our Ducatis or actually store and maintain their own motorcycles with us here in Chiang Mai and fly up on the weekend. It’s the two-wheeled version of living in Bangkok, but mooring the yacht in Phuket ready for the weekend.”

Thailand has now become ”home” for Kevin, with an ideal environment for him to invest in his passion and a rewarding opportunity to help develop the motorcycle ownership experience here in the Land of Smiles.

“Thailand is an incredible place, I love it and love its people and I love to watch our international touring clients share the same experience. We’ve built a great team of passionate Thai staff here at Ducati Chiang Mai and we are passionate about giving great service. From the top-down!”

Be contacted by DART Asia tours

Be contacted by Ducati Chiang Mai

Presenting the Ducati Chiang Mai team at their Ducati V4 Superbike launch event

A DART Asia tour group enjoying the sights of Northern Thailand

Kevin Merrell and his business partner unveiling Ducati’s brand new V4 Panigale

A DART Asia tour group ready to leave on a 9 day tour

Almost 300 guests enjoying the V4 launch event dinner and live MotoGP viewing

Kevin Merrell scouting an off-road section for a specialist tour

Live music at Ducati Chiang Mai’s #V4VictoryNight event


1 Comment

Adonis Dadiz
Adonis Dadiz
Dec 12, 2019

Very interested in retiring in Thailand one day. I meant Candi at the IMS this past Sunday and after reading Kevin Merrill's story I'd like to know if you would be looking for new tour guides and other partners one day. I'm only 49 but looking to retire in my mid 50's!!!!

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