The July 2021 edition of South Sound Business is the Legacy Business Issue. Here is the fourth in a series of features about local businesses steered by second-, third-, or fourth-generation leaders. Read the last story here.  

Tacoma’s M C Delivery doesn’t deliver packages by motorcycle anymore, but its delivery roots trace back almost 100 years to a Tacoma motorcycle dealership looking for a way to sell more inventory.

That dealership, Indian Cycle Co., sold Indian motorcycles and was owned by Max and Ida Steinhart. In 1928, they started Indian Cycle Delivery as a way to sell new motorcycles to customers by giving them local courier jobs in order to support themselves and pay for the motorcycles, according to a historical account provided by M C Delivery.

In 1940, Western Union telegram courier Jack Laycock pedaled the hills of Tacoma on his bicycle and longed for the easier transit of the Indian motorcycles he saw traversing Tacoma’s challenging landscape. Unable to purchase even a used Indian motorcycle, he charmed Ida Steinhart into loaning him a used Indian motorcycle until he was able to make the weekly payments and ultimately buy one.

Eventually, Laycock, after serving overseas during World War II, and his wife, Nettie, purchased Indian Cycle Delivery Co. from the Steinharts for $1,200. They received two used Indian sidecar motorcycles and the Common Carrier permit issued by the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission authorizing them to deliver packages weighing less than 70 pounds within Tacoma city limits. The Laycocks renamed the business Motorcycle Parcel Delivery, or MPD.

MPD eventually retired the motorcycle sidecars in the 1950s in favor of panel trucks to accommodate more diverse work and a booming economy.

But after the release of the highly sensationalized noir film The Wild One, starring a young Marlon Brando and Lee Marvin portraying outlaw motorcycle gang leaders riding and racing recklessly and taking over a small town in the process, the company changed its name to M C Delivery in 1958, according the historical account. The kangaroo logo was added in 1965, completing the look that remains to this day.

Max Steinhart, seen front and center wearing a three-piece suit and leather leggings and surrounded by couriers, started Indian Cycle Delivery with his wife, Ida, in 1928, the predecessor to M C Delivery. Courtesy of M C Delivery

The Laycocks’ son, Andrew, took over the business in 1986 and remains CEO. His twin daughters, Shari Laycock and Sara Laycock-Webb, vice presidents in M C Delivery, will likely take the reins within two years, said Shari, operations supervisor for the 40-person company.

Her father was planning on retiring around the time COVID- 19 emerged, but he’s stayed on board to help get through the pandemic, “Because if we can survive this, then anything that comes in our future … we should be able to handle,” Shari said.

Today, M C Delivery operates a fleet of 60 cars, vans, trucks, and tractor-trailers doing mostly business-to-business delivery throughout Greater Puget Sound and beyond. “We go up to Arlington once a week and we go down to Longview once a week, so it’s what the customers need,” Shari said, adding that M C even makes occasional trips to Eastern Washington.

The company offers same-day or expedited delivery of everything from documents and packages up to 70 pounds, to one or two pallets of items to full truckloads.

M C Delivery, in honoring and celebrating its history, plans to change signage on its delivery fleet to include a photo from its days as Indian Cycle Delivery, featuring original owner Max Steinhart with couriers of yesteryear in addition to the current kangaroo logo. All vehicles will have the new look by the 100th anniversary on July 15, 2028. The company also is transitioning its name to Indian Cycle Delivery/M C Delivery to honor its nearly 100-year history.

“We want to thank all of our employees, past and present, as well as the local business community, for supporting M C Delivery over the past century,” the company said. “We could not have done it without you. We look forward to the next century.”