Just twenty miles south from the Kansas City, Missouri downtown loop; a new Harley-Davidson owner has set up shop. Rawhide Harley-Davidson, formerly known as Central Harley-Davidson South, is the new show in town. The new owners bring experience and passion for motorcycles, specifically the Harley-Davidson brand. Holding their grand opening on Friday, June 18 through Sunday, June 20, they found out what Midwest weather was really about, mostly hot with a heavy pop-up thunderstorm midday on Saturday and heavy heat the other two days.
Most of us Midwesterners remember how dedicated Central Harley-Davidson was to its customers. Heck, Central Harley-Davidson stayed in business for over 40 years. Dave Veracka, along with his sons Mike and Paul are now heading up the ownership of Rawhide Harley-Davidson, which was acquired from Central Harley-Davidson in April. The Veracka family has a rich history in the motorcycle industry, which began over 30 years ago. Mike and Paul have been riding since they were 5 years old. They also own three other motorcycle dealerships as well, which include two in Lewiston, Maine and one in Hudsonville, Michigan.
During the three-day grand opening, free lunch was served each day and there were several booths set up, from promoting Bikers for Babies® to showcasing high performance prescription sunglasses. One specific booth was from the Southern Cruisers Riding Club looking for new members for the Johnson County 510 chapter. The crowd beat the 90 plus degree temperatures in the oversized American Flag-themed tent with free pop and water. Some even took part in the bargain of the day - $2 beers in the beer garden.
Whether going for a cool one in the tent or going inside the expansive showroom to pick up a lower than average cost Rawhide t-shirt, fun was had by all. A quick stop in between the tent and the showroom entrance caught the eye of most. Three words – bikini bike wash. On Sunday, Brooke, Natalie, and Christina were soaping the chrome and leather for a donation. Most of you may know those three tantalizing ladies as being the cover model search winners at the recent Cycle Connections Cover Bike & Cover Model Search at Harley's and Horses Bar and Grill.
After spending some quality time talking to the Cycle Connections ladies, one could find the owners walking throughout the store talking with guests as they shopped. When asked why Dave and his family decided to get into the Kansas City area market, his response was, “There are a lot of motorcycles in this area. Kansas City and surrounding area motorcycle enthusiasts ride a lot too. Combine those factors with a lower than national average of 6.4% unemployment rate, we couldn’t pass it up.”
Dave expressed a heavy emphasis on expanding the used bike inventory, which currently sits between 65-80 motorcycles on a given day. To do this, they will accept all types of trades like cars, campers, and even metric bikes. They have multiple banks available which will provide great financing packages as well. The Rawhide Harley-Davidson store also applies a creative motto of C.A.R.E. – which stands for Commitment, Attitude, Reliability, and Excellence.
Additionally, Matt Chiappetta has been hired as the General Manager of Rawhide Harley-Davidson. Matt brings over 15 years’ experience running Harley-Davidson stores, most recently in Arizona. With family close to Kansas, Matt felt that a move to Rawhide Harley-Davidson in Olathe was a great fit.
Rawhide Harley-Davidson currently employs 35, which is up from the prior ownership. They have also made it a priority to retain most of the former employees as well. The store is open seven days a week and current store hours are kept up to date on their website. All this will help drive sales to a Rawhide target goal of 1,000 bike sales in two years.
As referenced on their website, they “are motorcycle riders and know that Harley-Davidson is one big family. We strive to provide the best customer experience to our customers with a well-trained staff and great motorcycle events at the dealership!”
Dave, Mike, and Paul plan on being in active roles at Rawhide Harley-Davidson. They intend on keeping a strong bond in giving back to the community, specifically to the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the March of Dimes through Bikers for Babies®, which falls on September 19 this year. Rawhide also intends on having at least one bike night a month and other special events at the Rawhide Harley-Davidson dealership.
The next scheduled bike night will be held on Thursday, July 8 from 5-9 p.m. The bike night will include live music, a bikini bike wash, $1 beers, and a burnout contest. The next special event will be a Chili Cook-off and Swap Meet held on Sunday, July 11. And on Saturday, July 31 and Sunday, August 1, the Harley-Davidson demo truck will set up. You can be one of the first in Kansas City to ride a 2011 model!
During conversations, Dave is frequently asked, “How do you work in this industry all day and then go riding or racing a bike?” His response, “Aren’t I lucky?”
For more information about Rawhide Harley-Davidson, check out their website at www.RawhideHarley.com, take the short drive to their store at 725 N Rawhide Road, Olathe, Kansas or give them a call at (913) 764-7433.
Also make sure to click the following links to learn more about the other dealerships owned by the Veracka family: Grand Rapids Harley-Davidson in Hudsonville, Michigan, L-A Harley-Davidson in Lewiston, Maine and Central Maine Powersports in Lewiston, Maine.
By Rob Smith