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Kersting's Cycle Center wins Starke County business of the year

Each year, the Starke County Chamber of Commerce recognizes one local business as the “business of the year.”

This year’s winner is a hidden gem of sorts for motorcycle lovers that is run by one family with a very touching story.

Kersting’s Cycle Center has been a staple in Starke County for more than 50 years – and that’s saying something because it is actually located one mile outside of Starke, in Pulaski County.

Jim Kersting founded the cycle center with his late wife, Nella, in 1962.

“It was a repair shop first for cars and trucks,” Kersting said.

The couple started the shop after Kersting returned from serving in the Army.

More than 50 years later, Kersting’s Cycle Center has evolved into a go-to repair and novelty shop for all things motorcycles.

“I love the design of [motorcycles] and the people I get to meet,” Kersting said.

The business grew steadily as time went by, but in 2003, tragedy struck – Nella Kersting passed away.

“She was killed on a motorcycle with me,” Kersting said. “I came close to being killed myself.”

The couple was riding on one of their motorcycles when a truck hit them.

Nella was killed in the accident and Jim Kersting was severely injured – enduring months of treatment, all while thinking his wife of nearly 40 years was still alive.

“I thought she was in the next room [during the first few weeks of his recovery],” Kersting said. “And [my children] said no, no dad, she didn’t make it.”

Heartbroken, Kersting thought of ways he could honor his late wife.

“I decided that a museum would be the thing for me,” Kersting said.

So, he built “The World of Motorcycles Museum,” which now houses more than 150 motorcycles, a number of classic cars and more memorabilia than one could imagine.

Kersting also awards a local high school senior with a scholarship each year in Nella’s name.

Kersting’s daughter, Sandy Kersting Rudd, is one of many family members who helps run the shop and museum.

“[Nella] worked a lot of years out here,” Rudd said. “A lot of times we said she was the backbone of this business.”

Rudd said the business represents something significant to the Kersting family.

“This is our life,” Rudd said. “Motorcycles are what we do and love.”

The Kersting family will be honored on Nov. 5 at the Starke County Chamber of Commerce dinner.

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