Harley-Davidson dealer celebrates a century of service
Harley-Davidson has been around since 1903, and few dealerships have experienced the same longevity as Myers-Duren Harley-Davidson. Established in 1914, the dealership in Tulsa, Okla., was originally owned by Ward and Virgil Eby. In 1949, Glen E. “Dutch” Myers, bought part of the dealership from the Eby brothers and operated it until 1977 when Reba McClanahan, one of only a few women in the country to own a dealership, made an offer.
Reba and her then-husband Lowell Duren took over, retaining the prior name Myers and adding their namesake to the end. Reba later remarried Don McClanahan, and she and her two sons, James and Johnny, continue to run the dealership. In 1998, Myers-Duren moved locations to a larger 20,000-square-foot building in Tulsa’s historic Brookside district.
After a century of service, Myers-Duren has survived it all, from the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl to two World Wars and the oil boom. Today, Myers-Duren remains the oldest Harley-Davidson dealership in Oklahoma. Owner Reba McClanahan said in a press release that the history of Myers-Duren is “a 100-year ride through the good, the bad and the ugly.” The focus of her dealership has not changed since 1977 — it’s all about customer service and a family atmosphere.
“Working here at the dealership is still a job. However, we like to remember how fun it is also to not only work for Harley, but ride a Harley,” said Johnny McClanahan. “We really like to try to convey that to our customers about our employees. They not only work in the dealership, but they are riders who are passionate and like to have fun.”
Johnny agrees that customer service is also an important part of the Myers-Duren experience. “We still have more than half of our customers as repeat customers. Long-term customers are a tradition that we value as a family. We have sold to some grandfathers, fathers and grandchildren all in the same family. Some families have bought motorcycles in the third and fourth generations. We like to say that we would like to have you as a ‘customer for life,’” he said.
To celebrate its customers and a century of business, Myers-Duren hosted a media event on Oct. 14, for past customers, local radio stations and city officials. Johnny says that the mayor of Tulsa attended the press day, spent a few hours there and even took a Harley Street Glide for a spin. “We unveiled a 100th anniversary picture wall that showcases the customers, rides and history of the dealership on a prominent spot in the dealership,” Johnny said.
The following weekend on Oct. 18, Myers-Duren took its celebration public. “Our 100th Anniversary Party had over 1,500 people,” he said. “In true Harley fashion, it was a party with free food, soda, water and $1 beers.” The festivities included a live band and a prize wheel where every contestant won something.
The dealership also offered a motorcycle simulator and a contest to give away a 25-hour riding class. Johnny says that Myers-Duren has the only Harley-Davidson Riding Academy in Oklahoma. “It offers a new rider’s course to help riders make their dreams of riding a motorcycle come true,” he added. “This course provides training with lifesaving skills in order to make riding a motorcycle the most serious fun available.”
In addition to celebrating its history, Myers-Duren also hosts multiple events per year to stay involved in the community and give back to local charities. The Fall Bike Show and the Spring Bike Show have been annual staples for more than 15 years, growing bigger and better each year. “One of our larger fundraisers is for Make-A-Wish. We have a ‘Rumble and Roll’ that we have sponsored for 14 years and raised over $170,000 for the foundation,” Johnny said. Myers-Duren also makes a point of providing donations to local organizations such as Downed Bikers, Bikers Against Child Abuse and veterans clubs.
As the area around it has changed, Myers-Duren has grown and continued to thrive, with the last four years’ finances being record breaking. “The Street Glide is selling best right now,” he said. “It is selling well because it offers the comfort of touring along with the great custom look of a custom Harley-Davidson.”
The types of people who come in to the dealership have also seen growth. Johnny says that there has been a large increase in female bike owners, which “showcases the growth of lady riders in our community.” Owner Reba McClanahan, being a female rider herself, enjoys seeing this change and encourages them to continue riding.
So what is the secret to keeping its doors open for 100 years? “It has truly been because of the dedication of our employees in every department that causes customers to turn to us over the years and keep coming back,” said Johnny. “Their enthusiasm and passion for riding and the desire to help others enjoy what they know about motorcycling has kept Myers-Duren a premier place that people look to for inspiration to stay on the road.”