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BizCast 29: Talking Bikes with Brody Meier as Harley Davidson Turns 120 Years Old

Episode 29

Talking Bikes with Brody Meier as Harley Davison Celebrates 120 Years

About BizCast Greater La Crosse

We bring you news from the business community. From startups to experienced problem solvers, you’ll get in-depth insight on the challenges and opportunities of doing business in Greater La Crosse. Our show is a collaboration between and BizNews Greater La Crosse ( ).

Full Transcript [ generated by AI]

[00:00:05] Brody Meier: There is an experience that you can’t, it’s hard to even to explain to somebody what it’s like to ride a motorcycle down the highway.

[00:00:10] Brody Meier: When you get that, the wind in your hair and the feeling and that vibe, it’s truly incredible.

[00:00:14] Vicki Markussen: Welcome to Biz Cast Greater La Crosse, a weekly podcast from Biz News. We bring you news out of the business community. I am your host and founder, Vicki Markussen. And joining me today is Brody Meier. He is co-owner of the Harley Davidson, which for people who don’t know it is located kind of by Sam’s Club.

[00:00:36] Vicki Markussen: How would you describe

[00:00:37] Brody Meier: where it’s located? Right off the interstate. So we’re at 1 1 1 6 Oak Forest Drive. So we’re right there on that main corner. You can’t miss us. If you’re going to Sam’s Club, you’ll probably drive right by.

[00:00:46] Vicki Markussen: Absolutely. And you are

[00:00:47] Brody Meier: new to ownership? Yes. Yes we are. So I have a business partner and we have two stores, two different locations.

[00:00:53] Brody Meier: So we have two Harley stores and a PowerPort store. So if it’s got two, three or four wheels, we get to play with all of them, which is great. We’ve got this one here down Alaska and then down in Wacon,

[00:01:00] Vicki Markussen: Iowa. And you and your, the co-owner made a

[00:01:03] Brody Meier: bold move. Yeah, we did. The one thing I would say, it’s everybody wants to own their own business, but getting the opportunity and really having the drive behind it, it takes a lot.

[00:01:13] Brody Meier: So it was it was stressful. It was a lot. Took us about nine months from start to finish to get everything wrapped up and move forward. And, John, his name’s John Ginner. John and again, what we went through was tremendous. Our wives were great support, but what you think, you know, you really don’t know anything until that process gets started and then you drink from a fire hydrant.

[00:01:29] Brody Meier: But it was a, an unbelievable experience that would do it again in a heartbeat. And we just love it. We absolutely love it.

[00:01:34] Vicki Markussen: And what’s unique about it is, So John is down in Iowa and you chose to ca come up here. How did that work

[00:01:41] Brody Meier: out? So yeah, it’s kind of funny. I have a little bit more of a power sports background, but when it came down to it, John wanted to live in more of a small town, and I kind of like a little bit of that bigger city feel.

[00:01:50] Brody Meier: Even though La Crosse is not that big city feel, it just has different things to do and we’re very active out outdoors and so is he. So when it came down to it I decided, Hey, let’s go to La Crosse. And he wanted to be in Wacon, so it really worked out. We’ve worked together since. Like oh nine.

[00:02:03] Brody Meier: And we ran dealerships together in Iowa. So we’ve been doing what we’ve been doing today for the last 14 years. I was at one dealership, he was at another. We communicate every day on pretty much every topic, but yet I don’t have to be in the store every day. So I, my goal is to go down there once a month and his goal is to come up here once a month.

[00:02:19] Brody Meier: And that’s good enough. Yeah, that’s, it. Works out great

[00:02:21] Vicki Markussen: for both of us. So you could have picked up any franchise. Why did you choose Harley?

[00:02:26] Brody Meier: Well, Harley is, it’s the brand. Again, for those who have Harley’s who wear that barn shield maybe tattooed or a t-shirt they get it. There is an experience that you can’t, it’s hard to even to explain to somebody what it’s like to ride a motorcycle down the highway.

[00:02:39] Brody Meier: When you get that, the wind in your hair and the feeling and that vibe, it’s truly incredible. The best stress reliever you could ever ask for is jumping on your bike and taking the long way home from work. And there’s an experience behind it that it connects you with people from all over the world.

[00:02:52] Brody Meier: If you’re, At a rally or you’re at the gas station and somebody pulls up another bike, there isn’t, there’s a really high possibility there’s gonna be a conversation and you may end up knowing people that are the same or been to the same area or traveled to these places, or you pick up something new every day.

[00:03:07] Brody Meier: When there’s somebody that comes in the store, they’re. They tell us a new experience, the reason they’ve came to this beautiful region to ride a motorcycle. And I hope everybody that’s listening understands how beautiful this La Crosse area is. When I look at the windows, I still see those bluffs, and if you don’t shame on you.

[00:03:21] Brody Meier: ’cause again, when you’re in the flat part of Iowa, not that it’s not pretty, it’s just not as scenic and as pretty as what La Crosse has to offer. Y we

[00:03:28] Vicki Markussen: should not take it for granted. That’s absolutely true. And so as you come into buying a Harley dealership you touched on it a little bit, like just the culture around being a Harley owner, but what does that look like as the owner of.

[00:03:43] Vicki Markussen: The

[00:03:43] Brody Meier: business John and I both say, we have the greatest job you could ask for. We get to sell motorcycles for a living. And the way the customers and even the employees had received us, it was tremendous. So it’s very humbling for John and I, we’re very active, so if you come into the store, you’ll probably see us on the floor trying to sell a bike like everybody else.

[00:03:59] Brody Meier: It’s just a cool passion behind it. Yeah, we’re the owners of it, but if you come in the store, we’re just another guy who gets to sell a motorcycle. And it’s amazing when I’m out in the public and people will grab me like, Hey, you’re the guy from the tv, or, Hey, I seen, oh, we stopped in the store and worked with so and so.

[00:04:13] Brody Meier: It was awesome, and I love it. I mean, it’s. My cheeks get all red and my smile pops out and I just love everything about it. So it’s great.

[00:04:20] Vicki Markussen: And it also comes with just being a destination. Like there, correct me if I’m wrong, there’s rides, right? Like you stop at Harley stores along the way and get the t-shirts and Yeah.

[00:04:32] Brody Meier: There’s so much stuff in the Harley world that you can collect. So dealerships have poker chips or challenge coins or patches and stickers and t-shirt you name it. There’s so much different and. Getting the opportunity to ride from dealership to dealership to check out new bikes and to find people that have the same.

[00:04:47] Brody Meier: Fun hobbies that you do. Again, when you pull into a parking lot at some convenience store and there’s a car like yours, you don’t wanna park next to it. When you pull in a parking lot on a motorcycle and there’s another bike, you’re absolutely parking next to it because again, it’s that connection.

[00:05:00] Brody Meier: It’s, Hey, look how cool my bike is, and all the fun stuff that goes with

[00:05:03] Vicki Markussen: it. Absolutely. And so you own this Harley. Store. It just so happens it’s the hundred and 20th anniversary of Harley, right? Yep. And you were there.

[00:05:14] Brody Meier: Well, it was, it was awesome. So we got the opportunity to go out on Wednesday of last week and spend what four days out there and motorcycling is alive and well.

[00:05:23] Brody Meier: The 160,000 motorcycles in downtown Milwaukee. Was awesome. The museum was packed. The vibe and when you get to see Willie G or Jochen, one of the guys, anybody who’s running the company and they’re out there having a beer with the rest of us, it was awesome. So to get. The emotion and the passion behind the brand.

[00:05:40] Brody Meier: When a manufacturer is able to do something like Harley does, no other manufacturer can touch this. I’m not to pick on Chevy or Ford, but when was the last time you drove from Ford store to Ford store or Chevy store? To Chevy store? To buy a T-shirt or to hang out? Or to go to the factory and get an opportunity to drive the new models and see those new bikes coming.

[00:05:57] Brody Meier: It’s, Harley really has a unique piece of the world that nobody else gets to touch. It’s one of the most recognized brands in the world for a reason, and for those who have that, that barn shield on their body, at some point they understand it and they get it. It’s a. It’s a culture that you can’t mimic anywhere else from a,

[00:06:14] Vicki Markussen: I’m a kind of a marketing nerd, so from a marketing standpoint, they have mastered it, right?

[00:06:19] Vicki Markussen: Like they took a product, they built a culture around it. There’s desire for all the bling around it, like upgrades, like they have done it masterfully. I’m sure there’s some amazing. Study at a university of, let’s take a, let’s talk about Harley and what they have done for their brand. They do

[00:06:34] Brody Meier: actually Berkeley came out with one a couple years ago and they said that in 30 minutes of riding a motorcycle, it’s the same of one hour of meditation really.

[00:06:42] Brody Meier: So again, when you get that chance to get out behind those handlebars and feel the wind in your hair, There’s nothing like it. And I get it, some people may be intimidated or a little scared or a little nervous. You gotta let it go. You gotta try it. Nobody’s first bike is a Harley, so we’ve got all sorts of bikes in the store, so if you’re looking for your first bike or your next bike, we’ve got ’em.

[00:07:00] Brody Meier: And again, getting the opportunity to get on two wheels is way better than no wheels. So, Get your foot in the door, try to figure out what it’s like. We have this machine called a jumpstart, so if you’ve never been on a bike, I don’t know how to drive one. I don’t shift one. We have a machine we can bolt a bike to, and you can sit on it and shift through the gears and actually drive it and it won’t move.

[00:07:16] Brody Meier: So again, we can help narrow that get that fear outta the way and allow you to continue your path. It’s awesome. You gotta try it. It’s just awesome.

[00:07:23] Vicki Markussen: Very cool. How has the community been receptive

[00:07:27] Brody Meier: to you? Awesome so far. I have to. Maybe I pat myself on the back, but the way people treat us, it’s awesome.

[00:07:33] Brody Meier: We love everything about it. Getting to really meet and become friends with people almost instantly when it comes to a motorcycle, it’s, again, it’s so uniquely different than other things you might collect or other hobbies. I’ve got a boat, love doing it. It’s still not the same as riding motorcycle.

[00:07:47] Brody Meier: It’s just a different connection and when you get that vibe again, I don’t know how else to explain besides it’s amazing.

[00:07:53] Vicki Markussen: Well, the. Beauty is by living here in La Crosse, you get to do both, right? Yes. That you do. You can go on a boat. You can go on a motorcycle. So talk about, you did this as a leap of faith moving here.

[00:08:05] Brody Meier: Yeah. It’s sad to say, but I was never in lacrosse prior to getting an opportunity to look at this dealership. So when we sat with Harley, Harley pitched a couple different stores to us and. One of ’em was really far North Dakota, and I thought talking my wife into moving north is one thing. North Dakota is a whole nother conversation.

[00:08:20] Brody Meier: So when we got here to LA Cross and you get to see the river and the bluffs, and at the time we were coming, the eagles were in, they were everywhere. And I’m sorry it’s hard not to get emotional about how cool the city is and the way it looks and. Even if you go a couple hours to the east, it’s Wisconsin’s uniquely different than what we get right here every day.

[00:08:37] Brody Meier: Out my front window, I get to see Minnesota Bluffs. And out my back door, it’s the Wisconsin and it’s beautiful. So I, getting a chance to move to La Crosse has been awesome. I love it. We’ve had 13 employees jump. Ship and come to our company and a handful of ’em have relocated and every one of ’em that comes up here is just blown away in how cool it is.

[00:08:55] Brody Meier: And it’s not a very hard sell when they get up here and get to see what they’re moving into.

[00:08:59] Vicki Markussen: So let me make sure I understand what you just said. So there are people from other Harley dealerships that already know the product lines, so to speak. And the culture. You posted, Hey, we have some openings, and 13 of them chose to come

[00:09:13] Brody Meier: here.

[00:09:13] Brody Meier: Correct. 13 total. And that’s actually from companies that we came from. So we’ve had Oh, got it. Lots of people move. We’ve had a few employees from other stores that have come over, but, John and I were able to build strong teams and without that team we really have nothing. And we had enough faith in them and they have the faith in us and this.

[00:09:29] Brody Meier: Partnership really worked out and we have another gentleman down at our Iowa location that we’ve brought into ownership and it’s a big family. We’re all part of it and we know each other’s personal life and professional life and we have each other’s back and it’s a cool family to work for.

[00:09:43] Brody Meier: Did you

[00:09:43] Vicki Markussen: know that there was going to be this enveloping, if you will, when you bought into Harley? I

[00:09:49] Brody Meier: mean, you always hope, like what? What if this happened? Or man, wouldn’t it be great if this happened? But when we got here and just the reception and the way everything’s worked out and COVID did change some stuff.

[00:09:59] Brody Meier: Retail across the country is, was on fire. And so I think we did come in at just the right time. I think the community was ready for a change. We were ready for a change. And. Honestly, getting back outside and enjoying the outdoors on a motorcycle or a boat or an a t v, whatever it is it’s part of life that we can’t miss.

[00:10:15] Brody Meier: Life goes by so fast. I’ve got two young boys, we have little dirt bikes at home and the, every chance they get there on the back of our bikes. And it’s a family culture. So for those who think you, you can’t do it when you have kids. I’d rather train my kids at a young age, so when it’s their turn to ride, they know exactly what to do.

[00:10:29] Brody Meier: And in motorcycling, it’s not going away with the brand being 120 years old. You go back 70, 80 years ago, those bikes were hard to ride. Your hands were busy, left hand shift and foot clutch and all this stuff, and if motorcycles made it through that era. What we got today is incredible. The new C V O has a touchscreen that’s like 11 inches wide.

[00:10:48] Brody Meier: It’s amazing. Like a lightweight, better handling, more power. Every year they’re making these things cooler and cooler. So I’m excited to see what next year has to come.

[00:10:57] Vicki Markussen: The technology that has hit motorcycles,

[00:10:59] Brody Meier: huh? Yep. It’s, it took a little while to get here, but now that it’s here it’s amazing.

[00:11:03] Brody Meier: It’s some of the features that I get it. If you have a bike that’s 10 years old, it does everything you need it to. But when you jump on the new one, it’s got some new bells and whistles. Nobody ever turns away though. So I’ve They’re awesome. So

[00:11:14] Vicki Markussen: nice. Yeah. What makes you passionate about what you

[00:11:17] Brody Meier: do?

[00:11:17] Brody Meier: For those who have ridden a motorcycle, they get it. The passion behind what we get an opportunity to do. Remember when people come into our store, it’s not just a transaction. These could be dreams that people have had for 20 years. They had kids and they had to wait for ’em to get outta school, and now they get that chance.

[00:11:32] Brody Meier: Some people use these bikes as their chance to go on vacation rather than taking a cruise or, traveling. Every day I get to experience that and it’s awesome. When you get to, I grew up as an electrician. My dad and brother are electricians, and I put more outlets and light switches in than I ever wish to admit.

[00:11:47] Brody Meier: But what I get to do every day is it’s experience, it’s culture. When people are crying, when they leave on a new motorcycle, I’m sorry, but anything else just doesn’t even come close to that. So for us, the. The environment, the friendliness the love that we have for the brand and the customers.

[00:12:02] Brody Meier: It’s easy. It’s easy going into our world.

[00:12:04] Vicki Markussen: you have been listening to Brody Meier, the co-owner of Harley Davidson loving it here. Thank you for joining me and we’ll catch everybody next week.



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