2325 East Main Street
Leesburg, FL 34748
www.gatorharley.com and www.harleydavidsonshopofclermont.com
Arlene and John Malik
The Leesbrug dealership was founded in 1993; the Clermont store (30 miles south, a suburb of Orlando) was founded in 2002. Each one is 15,000 sq. ft. Carries Harley-Davidson and Buell. 35 employees between the two.
“The Clermont store is beautiful,” says Arlene Malik. “It sits up on a hill and overlooks the area.” Malik adds that she is “very proud” to be a Harley-Davidson dealer.
“We’ve been in the powersports business for 30 years. In Chicago we had snowmobiles, ATVs, and PWC. Becoming a Harley-Davidson dealer was the best move we ever made.”
“I don’t have any concerns about the industry,” says Malik. “I’m very excited and positive. I know they talk about the economy being weak, but Harley-Davidsons still seem to be going strong. We sell all the bikes that we get, and have had constant growth from 1993 to this very day.”
“The hottest-selling bike in our store is the Fatboy,” notes Malik. “As for accessories, chrome lowers, air-cleaner kits, and exhaust kits sell well.”
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
Gator has many retired customers. “They are coming back to motorcycling — they lived up north, but now they’re retired and have more time,” says Malik.
“We have a lot of middle-income customers and, believe it or not, a lot more women. I am shocked at the number compared to 1993. They’re buying the bigger bikes, not just Sportsters. Our Ladies of Harley club has grown, too. I’m really proud of our women riders.”
“These communities love us,” says Malik. “We have extremely good relationships with the city fathers in both towns. In Leesburg we do a lot for the Downtown Partnership, which is trying to upgrade the downtown area, and the chamber of commerce. We get involved in Mardi Gras and the art fair. We also supply the police department and the county sheriff’s department with bikes.”
PARTS AND SERVICE
Gator has six service technicians, and the Clermont store has four. “We make sure that all our technicians are up to date on all their schooling,” says Malik. “Some are Master Techs.”
PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS
Although the new dealership is less than a year old, “the HOG chapter has close to 400 members,” says Malik. “And we’re hosting the HOG Florida state rally in 2003. So we’re rolling along.”
WORDS OF ADVICE
“I know there are dealers in Florida who have bikes on the floor, but they’re selling over MSRP,” says Malik. “We’ve sold MSRP since the day we opened, and word has gotten around — that’s why we’re so successful. And we don’t just cater to tourists — we have a local following.”
Another key to Gator’s success is the family’s hands-on approach. Six Maliks work the two dealerships.
“My husband, John, had a stroke a few years ago, but he still comes to the store every day. He’s outside shaking hands with everybody and has coffee with a regular group. My oldest son is general manager and takes care of that age group. My younger son is our parts manager, and now my daughter manages the Clermont store. We greet our customers by name.”