Power Profiles

Ventura Harley-Davidson Buell – Camarillo, CA – July 25, 2005

1326 Del Norte Road
Camarillo, CA 93010
www.venturaharley.com, www.simiharley.com
Tom Elsaesser, Paul Pecoraro, Tracey Warriner, and Jason Barresi
Two dealerships: Ventura Harley-Davidson/Buell in Camarillo, and Simi Valley Harley-Davidson in Moorpark. Elsaesser acquired the Ventura dealership from Monty Miller in August 1995, then opened the Simi Valley store (a point store, not an SRL) in March 2003 (23 miles away). Each dealership is approximately 20,000 sq. ft. and carries Harley-Davidson and Buell. These were the first dealerships that were allowed to have contiguous locations; prior to that, there had to be a dealership under different ownership in between. 35 employees at Ventura, 23 at Simi Valley.
“Honestly, I don’t have any big concerns,” says co-owner Tracey Warriner. “The loud-pipe issue is at hand, but as far as serious issues? Things are going well. Overall, it’s a great business to be in.”
Warriner says that the Softails are sizzling right now, and that touring models are always good sellers. “Sportsters have been hot for Ventura store over the past couple of months, possibly due to a promotion we’re running to receive a free starter package,” she adds. She says the new rubber-mounted engines are “huge” for the Sportster.
“Our main customer base is the typical Harley-Davidson demographic, but we have higher-than-average sales to Hispanic riders,” notes Warriner. “We get people from all walks of life. There are hard-core bikers who have been riding forever and know everything about the motorcycle. Then there’s the new demographic who’s buying a Harley for the lifestyle that is portrayed. But Buell customers want what any streetbike rider wants-performance. We spend a lot more time with a Buell customer than with a Harley one, because the Buell folks have a million questions. They’re very technical, whereas many of our Harley-Davidson customers just want to ride, then bring their motorcycle to us for service.”
“We’re hearing that Malibu [a nearby beach resort] is issuing tickets for loud pipes,” says Warriner. “Some cities’ law enforcement personnel have visited us so they can hear and identify stock pipes. Of course, the Factory has an anti-noise campaign. We don’t install straight pipes here and try to be respectful of our neighbors.”
Ventura H-D has eight technicians, two shop assistants, a service manager, two service writers, and a service office manager, while Simi Valley has five technicians, one shop assistant, and two in the service office. “At each of our dealerships we have one Master of Technology,” says Warriner. “That’s the highest certification, including all three Masters-Chassis, Power Train, and Electrical. Then at each shop there are technicians who have one of those certifications. There are five parts salespeople at Ventura and four at Simi Valley. We do service pretty well, and our service department turns a profit independent of the parts department.”
Ventura holds parking-lot events – like a summer bike show each August – and rides. “We have really active HOG chapters at both dealerships that hold about five rides per month,” says Warriner. “Ventura HOG has 350 members and Simi Valley HOG has 250, although some of those memberships are shared. Since they are so close, our chapters do a lot of things together. We advertise on the radio, and recently dabbled in cable television. But mostly we use direct mail postcards to promote events.”
“My partner Tom Elsaesser is always looking at the business, running numbers, and projecting out cash flow 12 months into the future,” says Warriner. “This is absolutely a corporation. We don’t run any personal expenses through the business; none of us take anything out of this store without paying for it. The owners have the same deal that our employees do, and nobody has a ‘company motorcycle.’ Although we care about awards programs like Harley-Davidson’s Bar and Shield, we don’t run our business around it.”

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