It’s difficult to think just about motorcycles when visiting Gowanda Harley-Davidson.
Family owned and operated since 1947, Gowanda H-D is every bit a destination place as are the towering cliffs of Zoar Valley surrounding it.
Tim McKeever, marketing manager, said its location is one of its biggest draws.
“The destination here is worth the journey,” McKeever said recently from his office. The facility, located at 2535 Gowanda Zoar Rd. has been expanded 14 times. The original space, a barn no bigger than most two-car garages, is still part of the complex and visitors can glimpse history, specifically photographs of its founders, John and Babs (Marilyn) Reid.
The business is currently in its second generation of family operation and is in the process of transferring to its third. That’s important to remember, McKeever said, because many dealerships, and businesses in general, aren’t so family oriented.
“It really is a big deal to us and to the Gowanda area,” he said.
McKeever was working in radio and marketing for a number of years before he rode a Harley-Davidson. A love affair blossomed. Wanting to connect with his wife’s parents, who are riders themselves, McKeever found himself getting more and more interested in the activity.
“I wanted to do something that wasn’t me,” he said.
His interest eventually landed him a position as marketing manager at Gowanda H-D. It’s a position he holds dear and sees as an almost life- and community-affirming vocation.
In addition to motorcycle sales and accessories, the dealership is also heavily involved in the surrounding community and beyond. On May 31 to June 2, the dealership will continue its involvement in Gowanda Hollywood Happening, an annual event meant to raise money for the historic downtown theater. It’s an event the dealership started 15 years ago.
There are also motorcycle challenges events throughout the year, including the annual challenge ride for Tony Reid, who passed away after a battle with leukemia. There are other benefits as well, but most impressive is the Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge, an approximate 7,000-mile ride that helps raise money to benefit the Sioux Nation in South Dakota.
Gowanda H-D is one of two major sponsors for that challenge, a testament to how the dealership reaches beyond its borders. The dealership also assists in green efforts, specifically the E-Scrap for Camp program. As much as 10,000 pounds of scrap has been collected and recycled through this event.
“We’re trying to be a sustainable company,” McKeever said.
Like all H-D dealerships across the country, H-D is preparing for the 110th anniversary of the company’s founding. While Gowanda H-D is not offering any special ceremony and/or event, there are anniversary-oriented items for sale and associates are directing customers to special events and drawings offered by H-D.
In the end, the dealership is about family.
McKeever likes to quote John M. Reid, a retired president of the dealership, who said, “We view the purchase of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle as the beginning of a relationship, not the end of a transaction.”
With 25 full-time employees, the dealership does not lay off during the winter, unlike other dealerships. The dealership hires husband and wives, and oftentimes people meet and marry. It’s not uncommon, McKeever said.
“When people come here, they know they are buying from a family and that makes a lot of difference,” he said.
For more information about the dealership, including events, visit www.gowandaharley.com or call (716) 532-4584.