Wisconsin Harlely-Davidson Buell

1225 Robruck Drive
Oconomowoc, WI 53066

Hal Topel

The 27-year-old dealership was purchased in 1996 and moved from nearby Watertown to a new 13,000-sq.-ft. facility in Oconomowoc, 25 miles from downtown Milwaukee. Carries Harley-Davidson and Buell and has received several Bar and Shield Awards. 43 employees.

“I think that right now, the economy is everybody’s concern,” says Cass Kuzba, general manager. “We’ve been fortunate in this area; unemployment is running at about 5.5% to 5.75%, so that’s not a concern at this time. But when it gets up to 7% or 8%, then it’s a problem. My only concern is that the people who want to buy bikes have jobs and can afford them.”

Hot sellers at Wisconsin H-D include Fat Boys and touring bikes. “As for the Buell line, there has been a lot of interest in the new XV-9R,” says Kuzba.
At any given time the dealership has a variety of models available to test ride. The customer needs a valid motorcycle license, and the dealership requires that both the rider and the co-rider wear a helmet (which Wisconsin will provide if customers don’t have one).
“Best-selling accessories are the same as they’ve always been — mufflers and air cleaners to get the sound. And almost any accessory that goes on a Fat Boy or a bagger sells well, especially the chrome goodies.” The extensive MotorClothes/Collectibles department is staffed by six women.

“There’s really not a typical customer,” says Kuzba. “In both this store and the owner’s other store (Hal’s Harley-Davidson/Buell in New Berlin, Wis.,) we have a high percentage of women riders. We have people from one end of the income scale to the other. Although I’m sure our customers fit into Harley-Davidson’s typical demographics — 35 to 45 years of age — I think we’re a little more diverse than that here.”
The big trend that Kuzba has spotted? “We used to have a large majority of customers who did their own service work, and were even wiling to install their own accessories. Now that’s not the case. Customers want to be able to hit the key and go. I think the fuel-injected bikes have made a big difference. They’ve allowed people to ride who didn’t think they could before, because they’re virtually foolproof.”

“Because we’re in Wisconsin and close to Milwaukee, this is a very bike-friendly community,” says Kuzba. “There is some reluctance by lake owners — and there are a lot of lakes around here — to allow personal watercraft to ride on them.”

Wisconsin H-D has five service technicians, “and we’ll have eight by spring,” says Kuzba. “We also have three oil-change-and-tire guys, two service writers — three in the summer — a warranty person, and a shop manager.”
While in 1996 management was pleased with the space, now this building is too small. “We’ve outgrown it already. We expanded in 1998, and last year we did a remodel to get some relief, which gave the service department and showroom more space, but it could still be bigger.”
While the service department will take appointments, there is also ride-in, while-you-wait, oil and tire change service.

The dealership hosts the Rock River HOG Chapter, which in September sponsored the 8th Annual Breast Cancer Research Ride. The event, which raised $270,000, included an 80-mile scenic ride through southeast Wisconsin. The 1,900 participants came from Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, and Illinois. Wisconsin H-D gave away more than 400 door prizes. In eight years, the ride has raised nearly $1.4 million.
With Harley-Davidson’s 100th anniversary just around the corner, “We’ll have lots going on,” says Kuzba. “We’ve just about finalized plans for a party in downtown Oconomowoc on the same weekend — but not the same night — as Harley’s big shindig. One of my passions is antique bikes. At the dealership we do some restoration work and buy and sell antique bikes. So we’re going to have an antique bike party on that Friday night, among other events. It’s going to be very exciting and fun.”
On the dealership’s Web site customers can sign up for an “eNewsletter” that includes local and national events, in-store specials, service tips, and printable “eCoupons” that change weekly. Visitors can search for a specific model on-line or shop (via links) on Harley-Davidson.com — or on Ebay.com or Amazon.com, where Wisconsin H-D has items for sale. The site also enables visitors to read about the staff, contact the dealership, view pictures from events, and post a message.

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