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Posts Tagged ‘Albany’

“Redux” is often used in literature and film with the meaning of “brought back or restored.”

This time it applies to a motorcycle ride which took place back in 2008 under some clouds of controversy.  I won’t bore you with details of the past because it’s been 3+ years since that ride which had record attendance on a bright sunny fall day in the northwest.

Just mark your calendar as the Free The Colors ride is being resurrected from the ride “tool box” and planned for April 15th.

The ride is not about rules of engagement.  Rather it’s about a journey and it seems to me that the best trips in life invariably involve some detours and improvisation to smooth out the bumps in the road.  Sometimes when we’re lucky, they also involve motorcycles and meeting new friends.

And speaking of friends, the Oregon Veterans Motorcycle Association (OVMA) will be celebrating 22 years of service to Veterans, their families and the Community on Saturday, April 14th. The current State President, Stefan Dudley ‘Taz’ (HDE, Bend area), asked that the West Valley Chapter plan and run the Free The Colors ride on Sunday April 15, which will result in a full weekend for OVMA.

The ride route (see map) will start out at 12 noon (sharp) from the VFW Post #584 on 1469 Timber St, SE, Albany.  From there they will be going to Lebanon, visiting the site where a new Veterans Home will be built. Then on to Scio, visiting a Veterans Memorial, then to Jefferson, from there to I-5 N, they will be stopping at Rest Lawn Cemetery in W. Salem, (OVMA has a Memorial there), and from there to the Independence Veterans Memorial.  They plan to fit in a lunch and/or rest stop somewhere on the ride, and from there back to 99W down to Albany, and to the Legion.

There will also be a breakfast at the VFW from 9-11:45am

Hear that sound?  It’s time to ride and let the sun shine in on April 15th!

Poster photo and map courtesy of OVMA

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Closure Notice at AMC

The American Motorcycle Classics (AMC) Harley-Davidson dealer in Albany, OR., is going out of business at the end of the month.  They’ve called it quits.

Years ago the business was run by John Lewis, Sr.  He retired, moved to Las Vegas and sold the business to his son, John, Jr.   The G.M. was Joe Saltarello.  Was it the poor economy?  Sure didn’t help.  Were other H-D dealers complaining how Albany was cannibalizing their business which is only good for the consumer?  Did they invest in the business?  Depends on your definition of “invest.”  Maybe John, Jr. was having problems making the payments to Sr., who may have held on to the real estate and now decided to liquidate the assets, cut his losses, sell the real estate and call it a day?   Or, maybe they were FORCED out by the H-D motor company?

Hey, now that is an interesting question.  Maybe it’s a combination of all of the above.  Who knows?  If you do know send me a note.  I’m discreet.

Here is what we do know.  Over the last two years H-D is trying to consolidate its dealerships one way or another.  H-D may have just sent a letter of retirement to Albany/John Jr.  In essence it withdraws approval for the H-D franchise.  I called and spoke to the finance manager at AMC earlier in the month and he indicated that H-D was “forcing them out.”  Similar to the Chevrolet and Chrysler dealership forced closings.  Maybe it was sour grapes, but his statement went something like “HD was demanding they expand the store” and while they had committed a half-million $$ in infrastructure investment to H-D in what could be viewed as mini “Super Store” … they just didn’t have the sales revenue for such an investment, essentially being forced out by the manufacturer.  It’s not clear if AMC was selling a reasonable volume of licensed products, but I think it’s unlikely given the location.  The finance manager also stated they were doing about half the motorcycle sales volume they once garnered 4 years ago so clearly the economy has had a relevant impact.

Businesses fail all the time so what’s the point of this post?

Well, AMC H-D is well known in the northwest for being the cheapest H-D dealer in Oregon.  If I had interest in a new motorcycle I would always call or drive down and get pricing whether it be a motorcycle or parts.  That then became my new starting price to leverage any deal at a local dealer closer to the Portland metro area.  I never did purchase a motorcycle there,  but I have 4 buddies who all purchased motorcycles during the last 2-4 years from Albany.  They obtained below MSRP on every purchase, including additional discounts on aftermarket parts and walked away saving $1000’s and big smiles!

And even though they saved all those $$’s… cheapest does not always work.  You can’t always make it up on volume and it now seems that little was dropping to the bottom line to keep the doors open and make the payments.   We’ve seen this behavior in other type businesses.  A person will throw an “open sign” up in a strip mall and offer cheap prices — way below the current market — but in less than 24 months they disappear.  It means they were not making enough money, and just screwed up the market for everyone else.

AMC H-D had a “No pancakes, No S*****t, no rock band, no bull” slogan which was essentially an anti-social slam toward other dealers who subscribe the post-sales mantra.  But you know what?  That doesn’t work for some folks.  Yeah saving a few bucks is important (always!), but many of us are motorcycle enthusiasts and are looking for a dealer that will be in business (long-term), one that’s like a social “club” to hang out, talk shop, talk custom modifications and they are willing pay a little extra $$ to have that option.  Personally I like the fact that Paradise personnel (Mike(2)) know who I am and will call me by name when I walk into the dealer.  We’re not BFF’s, but I know, that they know, that I over paid a few hundred $$ for that privilege on my last motorcycle purchase, and for me it’s more than just a money transaction – its genuine relationship building – AFTER the sale.

Maybe this is what happened at Albany?  They had “A Beautiful Mind” moment.  Did you see the movie?  In the movie Russell Crowe plays John Nash, a mathematician who won the Nobel Prize for developing the concept of non-cooperative game theory.  In case you’re not familiar with the theory, it roughly means that to make the best decisions, you have to consider the actions of your competitors.

This may sound harsh, but in my view, the AMC H-D building was “lipstick on a pig.”  Functional, but not a place you’d socialize or hang-out long.  I’ve been there in the early morning and remember how they didn’t even have coffee for customers?!  Call me Mr. shallow.  From an outside-looking-in viewpoint,  the company didn’t have much of a Facebook presence, didn’t do any blogging or customer outreach, the email system announcing sales totally sucked and defied any reasonable logic from a marketing viewpoint, and did I say the web site was dated?  At the end of the day it just didn’t look like they were putting a lot into promoting the business or appealing to those who were looking for more of a social gathering atmosphere at their local dealer.  Yeah they could “splain” that all off as low overhead giving YOU the customer the best price, but when every other dealer around you is struggling and willing to lower/match prices to compete and your shop has no amenities… you’ve cast your destiny

There are consequences other than it’s “Christmas in July” for Paradise H-D, Salem H-D and Team Latus!  There is the loss of 10-19 people who are no longer gainfully employed – and I’m not trivializing this because the folks there are hard working people and deserve better – but, PowerSports Network (powered the website) loses a customer and AMC H-D also sponsored the Pioneer H.O.G .Chapter (newsletter PDF HERE).  It was the first northwest chartered H.O.G. chapter (#4085), and it now has no home.

I’m sorry to see the dealership close and I’m sure for many of you it feels like losing an old friend.  I’m just glad I don’t have any pre-paid expensive special parts on order!

Photo courtesy of American Motorcycle Classics.

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Reminiscent of the sly wizard in Frank Baum’s classic The Wizard of Oz, chances are most people have probably never heard of the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) program manager of motorcycle safety and safety standards, Michele O’Leary.

Who is Michele O’Leary?   A person who wants you to wear a helmet and protective clothing.  The person who manages the motorcycle endorsement funds and determines how it gets allocated.  But wait there’s even more…

The Statesman Journal has an interesting interview with O’Leary and it provides insight on the person behind the curtain.

First off, O’Leary came to the job with a motorcycle endorsement and owns a motorcycle!  It’s good to be able to relate to rider issues and in my book this was a step ahead of the Harley-Davidson CEO (Keith Wandell) when he was hired last year with neither.   As a member of the Governor’s Advisory Committee on motorcycle safety, O’Leary has the inside track and has been successful in getting legislation changed to increase fines/penalties on certain types of infractions deemed safety oriented.  Is that good?

I became acquainted with O’Leary as part of my safety rants back in April to do anything and everything to encourage the use of the States variable message signs (VMS) for motorcycle awareness. Those neon signs are peppered across the metro area roadways and provide information about traffic congestion and accident reports and in my little world I thought they would make an excellent public safety reminder for drivers to watch out for motorcycles.  My request was promptly denied and I got “schooled” on the ‘correct’ usage of variable message signs by the ODOT traffic engineers. Previous posts related to this subject matter at: Motorcycle Safety TacticsSpotlight On ODOTWanna Be Policy Makers.

Many might debate that we need to ‘just say no’ to the ever increasing attempts by the government to manage every aspect of our lives through increased regulation.  Others will say it’s a noble cause to help make Oregon motorcycle riders safer.  Read the interview, learn who is looking out for you and judge for yourself…

And finally, if the above wasn’t enough to digest… from the edges of the internet come information about a tornado strikes festival celebrating The Wizard of Oz.

Photo courtesy of Picasa.

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May is Motorcycle Awareness Month.

There are so many interests groups out there these days. Sometimes the noise level and the drum beat volume gets so loud that you can’t determine if they’re about discrimination or empowerment.

As a “wanna-be” policy maker I planned to get more involved in this year’s safety efforts and do more than just sit back and pontificate via this blog that May is the celebratory occasion.   But, sometimes making a difference is harder than you think.  You might recall back in February I blogged about reaching out to the various city and state government entities to advocate the usage of the “Amber Alert signs” during Motorcycle Awareness Month.  My ask was they display the words: LOOK TWICE. SHARE THE ROAD WITH MOTORCYCLES or something to that effect.  I wrote the “Gov”, but I suspect he read one of my previous “Lazy Ted” enough with the higher taxes for the working folk posts and…I got a non response, response?!  I even sent a number of emails to Oregon State Police and ODOT in hopes of getting a positive response, but was shot down in a blaze of blogging glory.  Don’t these people know who I am?  Interestingly OSP has time for a cell phone campaign, but has no enforcement effort tied to Motorcycle Awareness Month.

It’s my view that as these type of issues become more complex, these representatives are not empowered or entrusted to make on-the-fly changes and this becomes problematic whenever public servants are ask to make modifications contrary to the initial intent or it is in question with the letter of the law on sign usage.  Oh well…what seems clear cut and logical to me isn’t to them.  So be it.

But, there is good news!   There will be more visibility this year for motorcyclists because the Motorcycle Safety Program and Vehicle Safety Equipment Program Manager was successful in obtaining billboard placements around the state (see above photo). This is a FIRST in Oregon and the messages will be specifically targeted to make drivers aware of motorcycles.

The billboard placements will be on I-84 @238th, Hwy-97 (somewhere – not sure just yet) and I-5 at Keizer. Unfortunately these billboards won’t go up until June due to advertising timing. It doesn’t sync up with Motorcycle Awareness Month, but June works and is better than nothing.

The are other placements too.  They include: Transit in Portland, Salem, Albany, Corvallis, Eugene and Medford. There will be print and radio ads available to all markets and Water Closet media placements will be at “motorcycle friendly establishments” in Portland and Eugene. There is also web banner logo’s available for groups, organizations, bloggers and motorcycle dealerships to use on their website or blog. All of the placements will be up throughout the summer months, starting in May (except billboard).

All this is coming exclusively from the hard working folks in the ODOT Transportation Safety Division!  A major shout-out to Michele O’Leary for the efforts on this front and helping make Oregon a little safer for motorcycles.

Important to note is the motorcycle rally on the State Capitol that is being sponsored by BikePac this Saturday, May 1st. ODOT’s role is to read the Governor’s Proclamation that May is declared to be Motorcycle Safety Awareness month. The rest of the event is coordinated by BikePac and ODOT is not affiliated with any other part of the event.

Lastly, there is a Governor’s Advisory Committee on Motorcycle Safety and if you have the opportunity I am sure they would appreciate hearing from motorcyclists.  Their next meeting is July 16th and you’ll find logistics and email information HERE.  They always have an open spot on the agenda for any motorcycle group, organization or individual to come and speak.

Photo courtesy of ODOT and used with permission.

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About 40 years ago, a social movement arose to destroy the establishment.  People wanted to take on the man and return power to the people, upend the elites and lead a revolution.   Some would argue that today we have a similar movement with the people loosely called the “tea partiers” who today are motivated by runaway federal spending vs. the war during the Woodstock days.

Taking it to “The Man” refers to the government, leaders of large corporations and other authority figures in general.  Sprinkle in an array of conspiracy theories involving the Fed, the big banks and black helicopters and you’ve got Harley-Davidson investing heavily over the last year in what I call taking it to “The Man” advertising.  It’s advertising which appeals to the man who is born free, but he is everywhere in chains…

You see these advertising movements are built by marketing people who hope consumers will put their faith in unrestrained passion and zealotry to buy motorcycles.  The assumption is that the people are pure and virtuous, and that evil is introduced into society by corrupt elites and rotten authority structures so let’s stick it to ‘em.  But, what happens when Harley-Davidson (the motor company) becomes the manipulator and shadowy corporation or the ‘elite and rotten authority figure?’

So it is according to AMC H-D in Albany, OR.  Based on their most recent communiqué, the Milwaukee Motor Company decided that starting in March there would be a policy change which prevents dealers from advertising any sales storewide.  So, taking a page from H-D’s own corporate marketing campaigns and doing their own mini-version of “Stick it to the Man” type of advertising…AMC H-D created their own tea party movement and broadcast there plans to have a 20% off sale (excluding motorcycles) all year long!  If the item you need isn’t in stock then you’ll get a 15% reduction when you place the order.

Talk about counter-establishment.  Pure advertising genius!

So what’s in play here.  First and foremost is a job-less recovery is making it darn hard for any motorcycle dealer.  Second, H-D would like to continue to be viewed as the premium brand or “exclusive” product and thus does not want to be attached to a “sale” image with their brand.  Lastly, the dealers who prefer to operate in the higher margin “dealer markup” mode are likely pressuring H-D to stop the undercutting from lower margin dealers who have yet to succumb to the mega/bistro/resort level expense in renovating a dealership.  Remember Timpanogo?

We all know that if you want service after the sale, knowledgeable and friendly staff, a quality product, and pancakes on Sundays, you’re gonna pay for it!  The question is just how much more.

Photo courtesy of AMC H-D.

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amc-hdAnyone can purchase Harley-Davidson industry reports which discuss motorcycle demand and forecasts.  Topics often include market size, product segmentation, technology trends, environmental and regulatory factors, trade, market environment, product forecasts and the like.

Or you can wait and watch your inbox as the news or sales promotions roll in for an indicator on the state of the state.  Statistically motorcycle sales are way off.  Tell me something we don’t already know!  Yet adding to this drum beat was the announcement and regulatory filing from Harley last week that worldwide sales by its dealers fell 13% in the first two months of the year, a clear sign that the recession continues.  In the U.S., which represent nearly two-thirds of the company’s business, sales were down 9.4% and international sales were down 21.5% compared with 2008.  All this after the “We Ride Free” campaign where its message is: trade up!

The latest Harley deal to arrive in my inbox was from American Motorcycle Classics (Albany, Or.).  It’s a $3679.00 discount on a 2009 FXDFSE CVO Dyna Fat Bob.  Does that pull on your heart-wallet string?  I’m not so sure!  Because $22K is still a lot of coin in this time when so many are in dire need of cash.  The 90% of the population who are employed and can afford it know the value of money in these dicey times and those who don’t are unlikely to qualify for a loan.

HOG

HOG

Maybe Harley-Davidson should consider the possibility of selling off some of their brands?  The Buell and MV Agusta Group would be likely candidates for the “selling block” and might help restore the company or remove massive debt loads?  Just a short seven months ago Harley paid $109 Million for the Italian motorcycle maker to increase its presence in Europe.  This was somewhat logical back when stock was in the mid-$40’s and sales in the European market were increasing 16%-20% every quarter, but clearly HOG shareholders would like a “do-over” as sales are in the tank and the stock has now closed below $8 a share!  It’s interesting that Harley exec’s got this deal through the board at a time when Harley’s 2008 sales were down more than 7% and after a 5.3% drop in 2007.

Now the trouble is, does anyone have interest in Harley – or the equity – to make a deal?  That doesn’t bode well for the company unless they are looking at efforts to turn themselves around with the help of taxpayer cash?  Think about it: well-financed Asian motorcycle companies like Honda (NYSE: HMC) or Tata Motors Ltd. (NYSE: TTM) could pull the Harley nameplates off the scrap heap for next to nothing — without having to take on burdens like massive debt loads or union pension obligations. But even they are not willing to because they don’t think they can make money with it.

Yet, somehow we’re supposed to look the other way after reviewing Harley’s dreadful balance sheet and debt situation and continue to believe those same managerial geniuses will turn around the brands without shedding their massive debt obligations?

It just doesn’t make any sense at all.

Photo courtesy AMC

Disclosure: Author has no ownership in HOG.

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Many people confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day.  Do you know the difference?  Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring those who died serving their country.  On Veterans Day we thank and honor those who served in the military.

I’m grateful to our Veterans who served in the military and made tremendous sacrifices to protect our freedom.  On November 11th the city of Albany, OR holds a Veterans Day Parade which is one of the largest west of the Mississippi River.  Members of the OVMA and Hub City ABATE are helping coordinate various motorcycle groups that plan to ride in the event.  It’s an open event for all motorcycle riders, however, due to the large number of riders any individual groups should register so the coordinators can plan accordingly. 

Albany, OR

Albany, OR

If you’re a solo rider then it’s suggested that you join/stage with other groups or visit the OMRF site and determine the best method of participation.

For those who plan to arrive early in Albany there are a couple of waiting area choices:

  1. United Freedom Riders (UFR) will host coffee and donuts at Ted and Rhonda’s house (next to the Albany H-D dealership) starting at 8:00am.
  2. Hub City ABATE and others are planning to meet at: the Front Street Bar and Grill (2300 Front Ave NE) who will be serving a $5 biscuit/gravy and coffee breakfast for all the riders. (See Map)
  3. Or, you can go straight to the staging area under the overpass to downtown (See Map).

Do you know a Veteran?  Maybe it’s your mother, father, sister, brother cousin or a teacher.  You can be very proud of them as many have given much to keep us safe and free.  Of the 25 million living veterans, most (75%) served during a war or an official period of hostility. More information on Veterans can be obtained at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or see how the White House honors Veterans.

Have you thanked a veteran today?

UPDATE: November 14, 2008 – more than 40,000 spectators and participants attended the Albany Veterans Parade.  See photos, video and report by Tim King (Salem News) HERE.

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