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Carolina Harley-Davidson – Gastonia, NC – May 10, 2004

May 10, 2004
Filed under Power Profiles

CONTACT
194 Remount Road
Gastonia, NC 28054
704/867-2855
www.carolinaharley.com

OWNERS
Click and Diane Baldwin

BUSINESS PROFILE
70,000-sq.-ft. dealership purchased by the Baldwins in 1987. Carries Harley-Davidson and Buell, although it takes other brands in trade. 71 employees.

GREATEST CONCERN
“I’m concerned that all riders are aware that, regardless of brand, we’re dealing with other people’s rights — particularly with noise issues,” says Harvey Moore, general manager. “If we’re not careful, we’ll probably create major obstacles for all of us to deal with as an industry. It’s riders accepting that fact and attempting to not invade on others’ privacy. Just being a good neighbor.”

WHAT’S HOT?
Moore says everything sells well at Carolina Harley-Davidson, although the newly redesigned Sportster is garnering extra enthusiasm. “The V-Rod is also picking up considerable interest. It has just taken a few years to get there. Everyone wants to personalize it, and we do custom builds as well. The Buell XP9 and XP12, and the Blast, are doing well. We’ve only been a Buell dealer for about a year. Customers don’t pre-order Buells like they do Harleys, but the bikes are selling well off the floor to both entry-level and experienced riders. We’re starting the Rider’s Edge program within four weeks, and if other dealers’ experience is any indication, it should be a big plus for us because Blasts do well with entry-level riders.” Moore adds that the dealership has “a substantial number of dollars invested” in both Harley-Davidson and aftermarket inventory. “That’s one of our major focuses. Aftermarket parts are something that I and the owner of the business cut our teeth on when we got into the motorcycle industry.”
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
Moore, who has been in the industry for 30 years, says there’s more disposable income now within the typical Harley age bracket. “Riding a Harley-Davidson has become a lot more acceptable, more politically correct. People completed school years ago, then would have liked to own Harley-Davidson — but maybe their priorities shifted to raising a family, or they were not able to afford one. Now they have gotten to the point where the kids are out of the nest and they have more disposable income. They’re doing some things they missed then, like owning a Harley.”

PARTS AND SERVICE
Carolina’s 15-person service department includes nine technicians. The open-plan showroom includes a Design Center for those purchasing a new motorcycle (or wishing to customize one already owned). There’s a merchandising area in the 16,000-sq.-ft. service department that includes performance parts.

PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS
“We have a separate area where the Gastonia HOG club meets,” says Moore, “and where we will conduct the Rider’s Edge program. It has a seating capacity of about 100. When not being utilized for those events, local businesses and major corporations in the area can meet here, instead of just the regular local hotel meeting room. They pay a fee and we provide catering through several different caterers. During breaks they come into the showroom to mingle and shop, and we make popcorn in our machine. We try to give them a brief introduction of how it is in the Harley world — or at Carolina Harley-Davidson, anyway. People hear through the electronic media that all Harleys are $35,000 plus, but we show them that they can get into a bike and enjoy the riding experience for less money.”

WORDS OF ADVICE
“Keep the customer in mind — that’s the main focus — and be aware of some of the difficulties out there, such as noise issues,” advises Moore. “The motorcycling population has increased. If we don’t police our own market, then the federal government will probably lend some assistance, not necessarily in the direction we want.” psb

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