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Hog shop builds new quarters

Hog shop builds new quarters

PHOENIX — For years, D&S Harley-Davidson Motorcycles has been facing a frustrating fact about the law of supply and demand.

The demand for the high-performance motorcycles has been climbing faster than the local dealership can get the bikes from the manufacturer.

Sales have risen to about 150 bikes a year but still have room to grow, owner Dick Martin says.

I could have sold 300, if I had them, he says.

For years, his customers have had to wait to buy Harleys, a backlog that often lasted months.It started getting tough around 1987, Martin says of keeping up with demand. 1990, we were backdated.

To secure more bikes, Martin was told by Harley Davidson that he needed a bigger store. The manufacturer uses store size, market size and other factors to determine bike allotments.

So Martin is more than doubling the size of his dealership and creating a little piece of Hog Heaven while he's at it. The new two-story, 23,000-square-foot store is set to open Sept. 9 at 3846 S. Pacific Highway.

The new digs include more than simply expanded showroom and repair space. Martin's store also will have a 1,700-square-foot waiting area and game room — space Martin hopes will not only keep customers comfortable but make the store a Hog hangout. The game room will have pool and Ping-Pong tables, a dart board, a motorcycle simulation game and televisions.

When people come and have to sit while their bike is being serviced, they?ll have something to do while they wait, he says.

The new location also will have 1,700 square feet set aside for custom-built bikes and accessories and a large enough conference area to host meetings of the local Hog chapter.

The $1.7 million expansion will make D&S the largest dealership between Portland and Sacramento and perhaps the biggest rural location around, Martin says.

D&S? sales territory is massive, running west to the coast, east to Klamath Falls and beyond, north halfway to Eugene and south halfway to Redding. Martin says that area includes dozens of smaller towns where Harley ownership is on the rise, so he needs the space to serve those customers.

You grow or you die, he says. It's a big investment but its going to pay us back.

Part of the 4.8-acre lot will be leased for recreational vehicle storage and another 4,000-square-foot building there will also be leased to help D&S defray expansion costs.

The business, owned by Martin, his wife Marie and his three daughters, will celebrate its 30th year in 2001. Founded on Pine Street in Central Point, it moved to its current Phoenix location in 1975 and expanded to 11,000 square feet in 1983.Martin is now semi-retired, slowly passing along the day-to-day operations to his daughters: Terrie Claflin, Sandy Unruh and Kim Wentworth. The company employs 23 people.

The game room is one of several features Martin says makes his dealership stand out. It also offers personal pick-up to riders who break down and gives riders passing through the area — travelers as he calls them — priority in the repair shop. That kind of service, he hopes, builds a far-reaching reputation.

It also reflects the shift he's seen in Harley's customer base. He's seen the typical Harley rider shift from the young bar-hopper to an older rider who's more interested in touring.

The age shift is, of course, partly driven by economics. While Harleys start as low as $6,000, Martin says the average bike costs about $17,000. So older riders are usually in a better position to afford one.

Martin knows the importance of giving good service to travelers, since he rides 6,000 to 8,000 miles a summer touring on his Harley. That firsthand experience — his family and many employees ride as well — is another edge.

We're all riders, he says, so we know what it's like.

Hog shop builds new quarters