Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 40
Fritz Haenel makes his mark
on metal in Thayer
by Heather Berry | email@example.com
ritz Haenel has loved their sleek curves since
he was a teen, when he began marveling at
their speed and agility. The way the engines
growled powerfully when revved. The way
they sped down serpentine twists of the open road.
"I grew up around motorcycles, they're in my
blood," says Fritz, now 46. "And I love how every
one of them can be customized for the owner."
During high school, the industrious young man
loved cycles so much he apprenticed at a machine
shop where he lived in Pennsylvania, learning how
to build motorcycles from the ground up. That's
when Fritz, now a member of Howell-Oregon Electric Cooperative, started dreaming of one day building them for a living.
His other passion was art, so after high school,
Fritz studied at The Art Institute of Colorado. He
chose to paint live canvases, much to the distress of
a father who thought art wasn't a real career option.
"Yeah, I chose to go into tattooing," Fritz recalls
with a smile, noting that he did well with the career.
"Then I realized about 20 years later that I was
starting to talk people out of getting tattoos, making sure they wouldn't regret getting one
years later. That's a bit of a
Little did Fritz
know that the actual
road he was headed down soon would
change his life - and
career - forever.
The afternoon of
March 18, 2010, Fritz
and a friend were headed
east through Illinois on a
busy highway. A vehicle
cut between their Ford
Ranger and an oncoming
RURAL MISSOURI | JUNE 2019
semitrailer. Their vehicle ﬂipped end over end as began custom building motorcycles. He also began
they hit the brakes to miss the other drivers. Fritz piecing together a trike that he could ride - comﬂew from the truck and severely crushed his spine, plete with hand gears - so he could get back on the
leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.
"Business was good, but Denver was getting craThe next few months were some of the most difﬁcult. "After being released from the hospital, the zy, so we started looking for a more laid-back place
only real instructions I was given was how to use to call home," Fritz says.
After looking around, the couple moved to Thaya wheelchair, pop a wheelie, go
er in 2017. Rush hours turned into the rushto the restroom, get dressed," he
ing water of the Mammoth Spring not far from
says. "After spending much of
their front door and the whistles of trains as
my life outside and making a living with my hands, I knew I couldn't
they pass by each day.
While he can customize cycles in his
just sit and wait to die."
With his longtime friend and life
shop, A Matter of Metal, engraving jobs
keep him busiest. "I engrave chrome for
partner, Meghan, by his side, Fritz
motorcycles and now guns," says the
started thinking about how to take
artist, noting he's got a backlog of items
what he knew about motorcycles and
waiting to be engraved. The scrollwork
tattoos and turn it into a new career.
runs $100 an inch.
He wanted to ride a cycle again, too.
"Whether it's building cycles, custom
"Meghan came home one day and told me she'd
met a guy who engraved," recalls Fritz. "I went to engraving bike chrome or engraving guns with onemeet him and he served as a mentor, showing me of-a-kind art for the owner, I'm happy because I'm
the basics. That helped me transition from tattooing still being creative," says Fritz.
"When I'm riding a bike now, literally and ﬁgura- which is more physically
taxing now - to something tively, the wheelchair is behind me. That's as close
I could apply to motorcycles as I can get to a two-wheel motorcycle again, but
that's OK. When my hands are on the handlebars
and other items."
The couple opened a shop and the wind is in my face, it's all good."
in Denver and Fritz
You may contact Fritz at 303-523-6117, via email at
firstname.lastname@example.org, or on
Facebook at A Matter of Metal.
Above: Chad Collins, owner
of Triple C Cycles in West Plains,
poses with Fritz Haenel, right,
and the 1960 Harley-Davidson
Panhead he had Fritz engrave in
memory of a close friend, Ralph
Burnett. Left: Samples of work
Fritz has engraved for customers.
Rural Missouri - June 2019
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - June 2019
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - Intro
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - Contents
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Rural Missouri - June 2019 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - Cover4