Peterson’s in Miami organizes skydiving ride
It’s not too hard to get motorcyclists to go riding, but in May, Ignacio Montero convinced a few dozen riders to jump out of an airplane.
Montero, the director of social media and events for Peterson’s Harley-Davidson of Miami North, organized a ride to Skydive Spaceland in Clewiston, Florida, in May. The group rode from Miami to Clewiston, then jumped out of a plane at Skydive Spaceland, stopped for a late lunch and rode back to Miami.
“I ended up planning to go skydiving, and the event just took off. We had over 30 motorcycles that came out, and we had part of the staff here at Peterson’s and then also some of our clients that decided to jump off a plane, so it worked out good,” Montero said.
The skydiving ride was part of Montero’s monthly long-ride series. Montero has made it his goal to get a group of riders out on a longer distance ride once a month. The group might ride from Miami to Sarasota and back, or perhaps another destination that requires a full day of riding. The skydiving element was added in May. Skydiving was an activity Montero was interested in himself, so he thought the customers of Peterson’s Harley-Davidson of Miami North might be as well.
“It was something that was pending on my bucket list, and one of the guys here had jumped off a plane. We were talking about it, and I’m always trying to find different things,” he said. “What happens in the Harley world is that dealers will do rides, but it’s just you’ll go from point A to point B and back, and one of the things that I started offering to our customers was doing something different.”
Other rides have included pool tournaments and trips to bowling alleys. When Montero launched the skydiving ride, he already had five dealership staffers on board. His goal was to reach at least 20 jumpers to receive Skydive Spaceland’s group discount. The group easily hit that size, and it even grew the day of the jump.
“One of our customers, his fiancee, she hates roller coasters and everything like that, and at the last minute, she signed up,” Montero said. “I also have one of our employees who had never been on airplane before, and he went, and he jumped off a plane, so he did two things he had never done at once!”
Of course, Montero jumped as well.
After skydiving, the group rode to a tiki bar to eat (most decided to forgo pre-jump meals!) and talk about the day’s events. “Everybody was excited. We were all discussing how crazy it was,” Montero recalled.
Events are regular occurrences at Peterson’s H-D. The North Miami location alone aims for 10 events per month. Each Saturday Montero hosts a customer appreciation day, with a live band playing about twice a month, and every Wednesday is a bike night that includes a ride to a local restaurant. This past Father’s Day the dealership also held an event that included a Jeep competition, a custom motorcycle competition, a car competition, a free BBQ, a 1980s band, raffles and several vendors.
Events are key to the family-owned dealership run by Dirk and Drew Peterson, who also own Peterson’s Harley-Davidson South Miami. Their father, Phil Peterson, of course, founded the first of his South Florida Harley-Davidson stores in 1954. He passed away in 2015 at the age of 91.
“For us at Peterson’s, it’s about our customers. We’ve been in business for 63 years, since 1954, so to us it’s our relationships with our customers. To me, that’s my biggest priority is our customers, that they’re happy, they keep coming back and buying motorcycles from us,” Montero said.
The group Montero has gathered for the skydiving ride and other long rides differs from the dealership-sponsored Harley Owners Group. However, Montero is working to get the two groups together and interacting at some events.
“As the organizer, I don’t sit. I don’t allow them to get their little cliques, so I’ll go from table to table to table and introduce them. And then I take them to pool nights as well, or do a pool tournament, and that way I get them all in one room, so everybody can get introduced to everybody, and it’s worked out really good,” he said.
He added, “We’re separate to the H.O.G. group. I’m trying to get the H.O.G. group involved because what happens is that the H.O.G. chapter is a little bit older gentlemen, so I’m trying to get my younger group mixed in with my H.O.G., and this is kind of the way that I’m doing that because at the end of the day, everybody likes the ride.”
The new group is growing quickly. Montero recently had a three-week span that attracted 100 new riders, and those new people are now connecting with other Peterson’s customers.
“I have a WhatsApp group for Peterson’s, and within themselves, they’ll communicate. Like the other day, we were doing a ride, and some of the customers were coming from south Miami … and they coordinated with themselves to ride together. And that’s what I’ve been trying to do; it’s all about riding and that little community.” (WhatsApp is a mobile app that allows people within groups to communicate with each other.)
As for skydiving, it’s an event that will be coming back in the near future. “We’ve had such a good response that they want us to do it again, so I kind of figured we’ll probably do it in a couple months because now I have a lot more people that want to join.”
In fact, Montero is thinking about taking a group skydiving every quarter until everyone who wants to go skydiving has gone.