There’s no better place to go get smarter about our industry than at a statewide dealer association meeting.
That’s why when Chris Brewer, president of the North Carolina Motorcycle Dealers Association and owner of Power 50 dealership Brewer Cycles in Henderson, N.C., invited me to the NCMDA Winter Meeting in Wilmington on the Atlantic coast, I gladly accepted. One thing we can count on every day we walk into the office at PSB headquarters is learning, and this field trip of sorts brought even more of that.
Brewer and his wife, Lisa, the association’s executive director who spearheads its daily operations, have helped steer the NCMDA group into a poster child for how state motorcycle associations can benefit not only dealerships, but customers who enter their dealerships.
Take, for example, one of the topics being discussed at the Hilton Wilmington Riverside. Brewer announced to the nearly three dozen dealers in attendance from far and wide locales throughout the state that he has already been in discussions with officials from North Carolina State University about potentially using the more than 6,000 acres that the university owns in Warren County on the Virginia border to develop an off-road vehicle trail system. Brewer has visions of a system not unlike the Hatfield McCoy Trail in West Virginia, with adventure tourism providing economic stimulation for the area. When Brewer asked the dealers to raise their hands if they thought the state needed more connected trails, all in attendance replied in the affirmative.
Another win for the NCMDA has been its decision in the past year to a hire a lobbyist at the state capital in Raleigh. The association pays attorney David Ferrell a monthly fee, and NCMDA dealer members have access to him at no charge. The lobbyist was hired last February; at the Board of Directors meeting at the Wilmington Hilton along the picturesque Cape Fear River, the group decided to extend the contract.
“There are so many bills and things in a variety of areas of government that kept coming up, and it’s a lot of things that we need to know about,” Brewer said. “I’m not a politician, and I’m not much on going to the capitol in Raleigh, so this has really worked out. It’s been beneficial because our dealer members can just simply call him and ask any question they might have. The association is paying for it, so it’s a benefit to them. You call your lawyer and talk to him about some of this stuff, and it’s $200 an hour. It’s worked out well.”
Brewer spoke of a pending autocycle bill, an ATV age-change bill, new scooter laws, labor being taxable at the same rate as parts sales and border state sales tax requirements, all items which have been top-of-mind due to hiring a lobbyist.
The NCMDA meets twice annually, and the group is known to have more dealer participation at both of its meetings than some similar associations that are more than three to four times their size. Both meetings offer a geographic balance, with the summer gathering also usually involving a ride. Brewer makes a point to bring in a keynote speaker, with industry consultant Mark Mooney providing a two-hour presentation titled “We Used To Do That,” his classic guide to running a powersports dealership during the most recent meeting. Jennifer Robison of Tucker Rocky/Biker’s Choice also has been a keynote speaker recently.
Following a 90-minute meeting of the 12-member board of directors on Friday night, the membership gathered for a karaoke party with a cash bar and appetizers from 7:30-10:30 p.m.
Attendees were treated to coffee at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, followed by the 9-10 a.m. general meeting. Among the topics at the general meeting were minutes from the previous meeting, a financial report, a legislative update, introduction of new members and topics of interest to dealers.
Brewer gave a tribute to the late Ray Price, founder of Ray Price Harley-Davidson and a longtime supporter of the NCMDA. Mark Hendrix, general manager of Ray Price Harley-Davidson, appreciated the acknowledgement on behalf of the dealership and its employees.
Following Mooney’s presentation — Did you know that 86 percent of retail customers will pay more for a better customer experience? — an Italian lunch buffet was served.
Post-lunch speakers represented NCMDA sponsors including Federated Insurance, Zurich Insurance, Model Finance Company, Automotive Finance Corp., Rider’s Advantage and Great Western.
Nearly 40 of the more than 100 franchised and independent dealers in the state are members, but based on the benefits they receive for their annual dues, that number should be much closer to 100 percent participation than it is currently.
The 2016 NCMDA Winter Meeting attendees included Mark Hendrix, Ray Price Harley-Davidson; Lynn Barker, Honda Suzuki of Sanford; Van Paul Etheridge, Cyclemax; Brent Trotter, Cycle Center Inc.; Jack Parks, Matthews Fun Machines; Tee Caldwell, Matthews Fun Machines; John Hill, Select Cycle/Scooternerds; Dorrie Hill, Select Cycle/Scooternerds; Mike Heafner, Iron Horse; Rick Hall, RideNow Powersports; Jordan Richardson, Fayetteville Powersports; Katie Richardson, Fayetteville Powersports; Cliff Barker, Honda Suzuki of Sanford; June Cherry, Twin County Motorsports; Lance Cherry, Twin County Motorsports; Julie Trotter, Cycle Center; Dan Merritt, Fun Products; Lisa Renee Merritt; Jimmy Stallings, Ron Ayers Motorsports; O’Neal Tickle, Triangle Cycles Durham; Richard Hollan, Twin County Motorsports; Allan Evans, Twin County Motorsports; Lance “LJ” Cherry Jr., Big Rock Motorsports; Mike Russo, SRS Motorsports; Scott Amens, Cyclemax; Jay Cuthrell, Turners Honda; Charlene Cuthrell, Turners Honda; Steve Prokupek, Kawasaki of Hickory; Lisa Rose Merritt, Fun Products; Mike Vay, Fun Products; Clifford Barker, Honda Suzuki of Sanford; Greg Taylor, Brushy Mountain Motorsports; Della Harmon, Brushy Mountain Motorsports; and Glen Stanley, Honda-Suzuki of Wilmington.
It’s no stretch when Brewer claims that the NCMDA is “one of the strongest motorcycle dealer associations” in the U.S. The knowledge gained at the meetings alone is testament to that.
For more than 30 years, Ray Price Harley-Davidson has served as the center of motorcycle culture in Raleigh, N.C., and among the Southeast’s top motorcycle dealerships. Home to Hall-of-Fame racing legend Ray Price, dealership staff have centuries of combined Harley riding experience to provide award-winning customer service and education programs for beginners-to-expert riders. Ray Price was again named a 2014 Dealernews Top 100 business, as well as a Powersports Business Power 50 Dealer. The team actively supports area charities through a wide range of philanthropy projects. Ray Price Racing won the National Hot Rod Association’s (NHRA) Top Fuel Harley Championship in 2014 and 2015.