by Dave Halsey, NOHVCC Contributing Writer
Tenth in a series. Motorcycle and ATV dealers are often the first point of contact for new riders, helping them decide which vehicle to buy. Some also provide customers with information on where to ride, clubs to join and safety materials from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) and the ATV Safety Institute (ASI). What is your local dealership doing to help create a positive future for OHV recreation? Let us know by sending an email to NOHVCC at: [email protected].
Peninsula Motorcycle Store keeps customers engaged and informed
Ted Abernethy is 58 years old. But when he talks about his career racing motorcycles, selling motorcycles, and giving back to the industry in Washington State, he’s as fired up as a teenager gearing up for his first motocross.
“I raced for 30 plus years, motocross and dirt track, and some off-road,” said Abernethy. “I owned Motorcycle Works Of Renton. Sold it in 2005, retired at 50 and ran out of money at 58. It made me realize how lucky I was to be in this industry. I get to sell toys for a living. You look back on your career and see the things you did wrong and the things you did right.”
One of the things Abernethy proudly admits he did right, was give back to the local off-highway vehicle (OHV) community. When he owned his motorcycle shop, he donated eight percent of his store’s net income to promote OHV events, sponsor motorcycle racers and get new riders set up to race. “I’ve always helped kids get started. My theory has always been ‘I don’t care if you’re the fastest. I just want you to be a nice guy and send business my way, riders that represent the sport’.”
Last month, Abernethy went back to work, as the parts and service manager at Peninsula Motorcycle Store, in Port Orchard, Washington. It’s a Triumph and Husqvarna dealership in the middle of a relaunch that includes new hires and a new building. He’s excited to be back at work, teaming up with general manager Kevin Holt, who shares his vision of giving back to clubs and race events not just as a goodwill gesture, but as part of the dealership’s business model.
“You buy a new Husqvarna from us, we’ll get you a membership to the Northwest Motorcycle Association,” said Abernethy. “You bought this brand new bike, here’s something you can do with it to get involved with the motorcycle community. They handle the off-road series, they’re a great legislative watchdog. Everybody that rides off-road in Washington should belong to it.”
Peninsula Motorcycle Store also sponsors club rides, races, and poker runs held by groups of off-road, on-road and dual-sport adventure riders. Abernethy knows how hard club members work and how often they get shot down by dealers when asked for support. “The guy that comes in who’s putting on a poker run, he’s going to walk out with a prize,” he said. Prizes are proportional to the size of the event. The store is donating a trip for two to Hawaii as the grand prize for the Iron Man Poker Run, a 70-mile ride held in conjunction with the Desert 100, the largest off-road motorcycle event in the Northwest. It’s in Odessa during April, and is organized by the Stumpjumpers Motorcycle Club. “For the race you get a handshake and a trophy. For the poker run, you can win big,” said Abernethy.
“Our theory is: make it fun”
Also part of the business model at Peninsula Motorcycle Store is keeping customers informed and having fun. Just across the bay is the town of Bremerton, home port of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz. Abernethy recently sold a half dozen motorcycles to young men serving on the ship, and he hopes to keep them customers for life.
“Imagine you just came in on the Nimitz and you’re not from Washington,” he said. “You walk into a shop and someone sells you a bike and they say ‘thanks have a good day, bye!’ When you walk in here, we’re also going to keep you abreast of what you can do, where you can ride, and what’s going on in the OHV community.
“Back to my theory, if you keep the people enthused and having fun riding every weekend, they’ll keep coming back to your store and spending money. We sell them the toy, then we show them a place to play with the toy. A lot of the shops lose track of that, after the daily grind.
“The industry has changed because of the internet. To keep the brick-and-mortar stores going, the shops have to be involved, they have to be out there, but most of all they have to be fun.”
After decades of riding, racing and selling motorcycles, Abernethy is still excited to be part of the OHV community, and giving back. “The friends that you make in this sport are the friends you’ll always be close with,” he said. “The people I raced with in the ‘70s, I still hang out with them. And we’re still riding, so that’s kind of cool.”
To learn more about Peninsula Motorcycle Store, go to their website: http://www.peninsulamotorcyclestore.com/.