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D&S completes expansion

$1.7 million shop provides motorcycle sales, service, recreation

Lines of glistening motorcycles packed the front lot of D&S Harley-Davidson during the grand opening of the shop's new 23,000-square-foot facility Saturday.

With the completion of the $1.7 million expansion in Phoenix, D&S is now the largest Harley-Davidson dealer from San Francisco to Seattle and the oldest HOG shop in Oregon, said owner Dick Martin.

The scent of leather and exhaust, the distinctive asphalt-rumbling vibration of dozens of bikes and the blast of rock-n-roll from the second story entertainment area make it clear Dick and Marie Martin knew exactly what they were doing when they expanded D&S.

We're really going about this a little bit different, Dick Martin said. Instead of having a great big showroom, we're going for servicing the customer in another area.

D&S dedicated the entire second story of their new building to the pursuit of leisure activity — two pool tables, a big screen television, pinball machine, dart board, ping pong table, dance floor and band stage area, and substantial kitchen and serving areas.

The entertainment floor was designed to accommodate Harley folk waiting for the repair or service of their bikes, Martin said. It will also serve as a meeting place for the Southern Oregon No. — Harley Owners Group (HOG).

When you come in, it's going to take two to three hours for your bike to be worked on, he said. What are you going to do for that time?

With the growing popularity of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, supplies have fallen months behind demand. The more than a dozen motorcycle models on D&S? showroom floor give a whole new meaning to immediate gratification.

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.

A tour through the service area reveals a basketball-court-sized high-tech room where six mechanics will have access to two work bays each; a carpeted area for new bike assembly and an indoor bike wash. A small room with two windows allows a view of the Dyno-Jet machine where Harleys are run through computerized diagnostics .

We do everything in-house, Martin said. Boring, glass beading, drill lathe, everything it takes. The only thing we send out are paint work and milling.

The Martins have been selling Harley-Davidsons in Southern Oregon since moving from the San Francisco Bay area to Talent in 1970. D&S Harley-Davidson was founded on Pine Street in Central Point and moved to 4836 S. Pacific Highway in Phoenix in 1975. The Martins expanded the showroom and service area to 11,000 square feet in 1983.

The Martins, joined by their three grown daughters, Terrie Claflin, Sandy Unruh and Kim Wentworth, to expand the business, starting construction in April. The business will celebrate its 30th anniversary this year.

Martin is proud that each of his 23 employees rides their own bikes, including his daughters.

Harley-Davidson is a family thing, he said. My girls were climbing up behind the counter when they could stand on an orange crate. They?d be talking to people while the wife and I ran things.

Now the girls are the ones with their hands on the reins of the business while Martin thinks about retiring.

I don't think I'll ever, what you call, retire, he said, looking down onto the showroom from his eagle's nest of an office. People retire because they're tired of what they're doing. I'm not tired of what I'm doing.

— Reach reporter at 776-4463, or e-mail

Don Martel of Medford showed up for the grand opening of the expanded D&S Harley-Davidson shop in Phoenix. Martel toured the new models on display; his own new custom bike arrives in March. - Andrew Mariman