Another One Bites The Dust

November 20, 2008

All Posts, News

When Santa Cruz Harley-Davidson went out of business last week, dealer Mike James said, “We may be the first…but we won’t be the last.” James just might have known something.

The bell tolled again Tuesday. After 48 years, family owned Wilwert’s Harley-Davidson of Dubuque, Iowa went bankrupt and locked its doors. Letters painted in the front window spelled, “Going Out Of Business/ Thanks To Our Customers.” Wilwert’s was one of 22 Harley Dealers in Iowa.

Dubuque is a city of about 60,000 people on the Mississippi River near Illinois and Wisconsin. The nearest dealerships to the city are now in Waukon and Waterloo, Iowa about 70 miles away. It is a pretty place to ride but it is not the riding season there now. The high in Dubuque today was 29 degrees.

The Gory Details

The dealership opened in September, 1960 and moved into a new, 53,000 square foot building in 2003. According to Dun & Bradstreet, the dealership employed 32 people and had annual sales of about $3.1 million. The American Trust & Savings Bank, which has branches in five cities including Dubuque, won a judgment of more than half that amount, $1.6 million plus fees and interest, against Wilwert’s last Thursday.

A legal notice printed in the Dubuque Telegraph Herald announced a sheriff’s levy and sale of the property for January 15, 2009 at 10 am.

Dealer Clay Wilwert told Jamie Grey, a reporter for the local NBC television station, KWWL, that “he is working with his attorneys on possible partnership deals that could keep the (dealership) open.”

Dealers In Trouble

The personal catastrophe that the Wilwert family is going through seems to be an instant replay of what happened to Santa Cruz Harley. That dealership experienced a 70 percent decline in sales and simply did not have the cash to cover its expenses including debt. Santa Cruz tried to save the dealership by selling it but Harley corporate vetoed that proposed deal.

But, both Santa Cruz Harley and Wilwert’s Harley may be the victims of a problem that is bigger than either one of them

The Big Picture

Numerous financial wizards are predicting a decline in Harley-Davidson sales. Harley sells big, expensive bikes to aging men. A theory is making the rounds that most of those aging men bought most of those Harleys by cashing out the equity in their homes. And, an article in today’s Los Angeles Times by influential automotive writer Susan Carpenter asserts that any future growth in motorcycle sales will result from more women buying more small bikes.

But, Harley-Davidson’s problems might be even bigger than the motorcycle business.

You may have noticed that a fool has thrown the economy off a cliff and nothing seems to have hit bottom yet. The country is paralyzed by fear of the unknown. And, most people are thinking twice before they spend a dollar let alone twenty or thirty thousand of them for a new motorcycle.

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One Response to “Another One Bites The Dust”

  1. FREEDOM HARLEY DAVIDSON Says:

    HI I AM FREEDOM HARLEY DAVIDSON! MY REAL NAME IS VERNETTA WASHBURN! I REFUSE TO GIVE UP ON HARLEY DAVIDSON! I HAVE BEEN IN LOVE WITH HARLEY DAVIDSON SINCE I WAS 13 YEARS OLD! I KNOW THINGS ARE BAD ALL OVER BUT HOW CAN YOU HONESTLY GIVE UP ON A BUSINESS THAT HAS BEEN AROUND FOR SO LONG? I THINK MANAGEMENT NEEDS TO REEVALUATE THE SITUATION AND MAKE SOME MAJOR CHANGES TO SAVE THE COMPANY! THE WORLD CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT HARLEY DAVIDSON! I KNOW THAT PEOPLE GET LAYED OFF IN ALL BUSINESSES SINCE THE ECONOMY STINKS, BUT WE ALL NEED TO STICK TOGETHER AND SAVE THE BUSINESS! ONE THING YOU CAN DO IS SEND THIS INFORMATION TO ALL THE MUSICANS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD AND EXPLAIN THE SITUATION! THEY CAN DO CHARITY CONCERTS TO SAVE THE “LEGEND OF MOTORCYCLES” HARLEY DAVIDSON! I KNOW THEY WOULD DO ANYTHING TO SAVE THE COMPANY FROM GOING UNDER!

    I CHOSE FREEDOM BECAUSE WHEN I DIVORCED THE SECOND TIME I WAS FREE AND MY SPIRIT CAME ALIVE AGAIN! I CHOSE HARLEY BECAUSE I AM TOTALLY IN LOVE WITH THE BUSINESS! I USED TO GO BY DAVIDSUN BECAUSE I WAS AFRAID YOU WOULD SUE ME FOR THE NAME BUT I SAID WHAT THE HECK I LOVE HARLEY DAVIDSON THAT I WANT TO GIVE THEM ALL THE ADVERTISING THE COMPANY DESERVES! THIS IS HOW MY NEW NAME CAME ABOUT!!!!!!!!!!!! I HAVE BEEN IN CONTACT WITH KID ROCK, BON JOVI TRYING TO SELL MYSELF TO THEM THAT WE CAN CHANGE THE WORLD IF OUR FORCES JOIN TOGETHER! BON JOVI HAS A CONTEST GOING ON RIGHT NOW FOR FANS TO JOIN THE BAND BUT I DON’T HAVE A VIDEO CAMERA OR THE MUSIC THEY WANT A VIDEO MADE OUT OF SO I’M TRYING VERY HARD TO SELL MYSELF, HARLEY DAVIDSON, YOUR COMPANY AND HOPEFULLY I CAN JOIN THE TEAM IF I PROVE MYSELF TO THE MASTER MUSICANS OF THE WORLD, EVEN THOUGH I NEVER SANG ON STAGE BEFORE! I PRACTICE KID ROCKS MUSIC EVERYDAY HOPING FOR A BREAK TO MAKE MY DREAM COME TRUE TO REPRESENT A COMPANY THAT I LOVE WITH ALL MY BODY, MIND, SOUL, AND HEART! I RAN WITH BIKERS ALL MY LIFE SINCE MY TEENS AND I REFUSE TO QUIT BELEAVING IN THE COMPANY! HELL I WANT TO BECOME PARTNERS WITH HARLEY DAVIDSON AND MODEL YOUR CLOTHING LINE, YOUR BEAUTIFUL BIKES, HELP DESIGN THE NEW BIKES VIA ALL THE GREAT MUSICANS IMPUT!! SEE I’M CRAZY BUT I PRAY, DREAM, AND WISH AND HOPE BON JOVI SEES HOW HUNGRY I AM TO BE PART OF THE COUNTRY! I PRAY HE CHOOSES ME TO GO ON TOUR WITH KID ROCK AND BON JOVI! A WORLD TOUR SHOULD SAVE THE COMPANY AS LONG AS I AM CHOSEN TO REPRESENT HARLEY DAVIDSON! HOPEFULLY I CAN AFFORD YOUR CLOTHING SO I CAN ADDVERTISE ALL OVER THE WORLD! JUST IMAGINE WHAT IT WOULD BE LIKE IF I AM CHOSEN FOR THEIR CONTEST AND THEY ANNOUNCE FREEDOM HARLEY DAVIDSON JOINED THEM TO SING DANCE AND MOST OF ALL REPRESENT A COMPANY THAT IS DYING!

    I KNOW I AM A NOBODY WANTING TO BE A SOMEBODY, BUT I DO HAVE FAITH AND PRAY TO GOD HE ANSWERS OUR PRAYERS! I AM NOT CRAZY JUST WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERNCE TO SAVE OUR FUTURE “ALL THE CHILDREN AROUND THE WORLD AND SAVE THE COMPANY!

    I HAD NO IDEA THE HARDSHIP HARLEY DAVIDSON WAS UNDER! WRITE BON JOVI AT BON JOVI.COM AND KIDROCK.COM AND ASK FOR HELP! THEY LOVE YOU GUYS THEY LOVE TO RIDE!

    THE CLOSET THING TO FREEDOM IS BEING ON A HARLEY DAVIDSON WITH THE WIND BENEATH YOUR WINGS! THE SINSATION OF FLYING!

    DREAMS ARE ONLY DREAMS
    UNTIL THEY BECOME REAL
    WHICH IS REALITY!!!!!!!!!

    JUST ME——FREEDOM HARLEY DAVIDSON

    I HOPE I HAVE YOUR PERMISSION TO USE YOUR NAME! IF MY DREAM COMES TRUE THIS IS THE NAME I CHOSE AS A STAGE NAME TO ROCK AND ROLL!

    ALL MY LOVE —

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