A new, younger take on the Harley lifestyle
Scott Fischer to build new Six Bends Harley-Davidson dealership in Fort Myers
Scott Fischer Enterprises, owner of six Harley-Davidson stores and a PSB Power 50 dealer, is growing in Southwest Florida. In June the company announced plans to develop 16 acres of property located near Interstate 75 and Daniels Parkway in Fort Myers. The property has been named Six Bends and will incorporate a Harley-Davidson retail location, Riding Academy and test ride track, an event center and commercial space.
“The development of this new location will not only better serve our customers, it’s part of an ongoing commitment to innovation and business excellence,” said John Greene, partner and chief branding officer of SFE. “This project has been carefully crafted to offer the ultimate user experience and we’re excited share it with the Fort Myers community.”
Six Bends is a 16.5-acre project that will include a 54,000-square-foot store, an on-site rider education training course, Riding Academy and an entertainment venue that will hold more than 5,000 people, making up Phase I. Phase II encompasses approximately 45,000 square feet of mixed-use commercial space via two additional onsite buildings. Phase I is expected to open in the fall of 2014 and Phase II in summer 2015.
The new facility will replace the existing location on Colonial Boulevard in Fort Myers. Current staff will move to the new location. An increase of 35-40 percent in staffing is expected.
Full speed ahead
“We bought the property before the market crashed, and before the market crashed, we had planned on relocating our Harley store,” Fischer said. “Then the market went away and we regrouped, did stuff differently in our business.”
In fact, Fischer said he contemplated adding an all-brand pre-owned only store to the site back prior to the Great Recession. In fact, in September 2009, Fischer decided to close the company’s four full-line metric stores in South Carolina, Ohio and two in Florida.
“We couldn’t sell them — we had to close them,” Fischer said. “We laid off 250 employees and that hurt. It really hurt really bad to close those stores and lay off those people, but it was the single greatest thing we’ve ever done in our company. We learned the people side of our business. Over the last six years, we’ve become a very healthy customer and employee-led Harley business. Our focus right now is about growing our business internally. We can go out and buy stores and whatever, but there’s a lot of opportunity inside our current business. And there’s a lot of opportunity to grow the Harley business because there’s a lot of customers out there who haven’t experienced it yet.”
Fischer believes the store can capitalize on the region’s status as a national and worldwide tourist destination.
“This is going to be an incredible destination not just for motorcyclists, but non-motorcyclists also,” he said. “I realize everyone says that, but at this location we have already hired program managers, who work on events all the time on the site, not just during a week or two. We’re going to have something going on all the time. I mean all the time. They’re beating our doors down to host all kinds of different events.”
A highly visible two-acre H-D Riding Academy site for rider training is expected to be a draw also.
“Our goal is to market rider education at another level. We want Europeans to come here and take rider education, and Midwesterners on their winter break,” Fischer said. “All of our visitors will visually experience rider education. This location will be bringing a lot of non-riders in, and they will be visually exposed to rider education. We think it will have a big impact for growth.”
Fischer anticipates the mixed-use area to include a microbrewery, tattoo parlors, a restaurant, barber shop and ice cream shop. It’s location nearby the ever-growing Florida Gulf Coast University also should add some livelihood, not to mention new riders.
“A real struggle with our market here is we don’t have enough for the young people to do. So we’re really going to target that early-20s to mid-30s audience. We know we’re going to get the Harley customer. I’m investing hard for the Harley customer, but we’re also investing for our outreach customers, the 20-to-35 year-olds.”
The 54,000 square-foot building includes 9,000 square feet on the second level. The Ft. Myers H-D store is 45,000 square feet. High ceilings will allow for visibility from Interstate 75. The current store has 12 service technicians; Six Bends will have 24.
“We’re either No. 1 or in the top three volume service operations in the country, so we really looking to grow the service business even further,” he said.
Fischer belives the time is right to make such an investment.
“I’m pretty bullish on the future,” he said. “I believe that most dealers are aware and I am very aware that Harley is on the edge of new technology. We saw that through the Rushmore product. Rushmore had a significant impact on our business. And now with the Street product? The Street will be able to sponsor some of our events! The one thing I’ve said over and over is that the middleweight motorcycle is either No. 1 or 2 in the country, and we don’t have product for it. Now, there’s not going to be enough product available to worry about if it’s overpriced. We’re going to sell everything we can get our hands on.”
Why Six Bends?
The term “six bends” refers to the bends in a motorcycle’s handlebar, a part often customized on a motorcycle.
The lore of Six Bends extends to the very fiber of the projects, how the roads are placed, where people can gather — moments in the space. It carries over into the event center that will play host to community events and concerts, named Top Rocker, whose name not only refers to future visiting musicians, but also the top badge on a motorcycle vest. Six Bends is more than a name — it’s a lifestyle and point of view that SFE is excited to share with the Southwest Florida community and beyond.