Woodstock, N.Y., is about 100 miles north of the Big Apple. Most famous for the music festival that took place near here in 1969, the area is largely rural with roads curving though hills and valleys and the pleasant, low-key scenery of the Catskill Mountain foothills. It is also the home of Woodstock Harley-Davidson, one of the very few mother-daughter motorcycle dealerships in the country.
Kim Rose, general manager and daughter of owner Janice Dordick, grew up in the dealership. Her father, Roy Dordick, a lifelong tinkerer and motorcycle enthusiast, started out in chrome plating. He and Janice opened Woodstock Harley-Davidson in 1975. Janice sold parts and kept the books, while Roy did the wrenching.
Kim remembers her childhood fondly. “I had dirt bikes growing up,” she says. “It was never a question of whether I was going to start riding, but when. If I wanted a couple of dollars, I was encouraged to work in the dealership.”
Tragedy struck in 1982 when Roy died in a plane crash. Janice made the decision to keep the dealership. Her hard work and relationship with the customers paid off, netting even more business and more employees. By 1990, the work had gotten to be more than Janice could handle alone.
Kim had chosen a nursing career, but her mother asked her to help, and she started working part-time in the dealership. “I started coming in on weekends, but eventually I hung up my nursing cap.”
Business kept improving, and Woodstock relocated twice to serve its growing customer base. Woodstock H-D is now housed in an impressive 21,000-square-foot facility.
Woodstock Harley-Davidson excels is in its outreach to women. “Being female owned and operated, we strongly encourage women to ride,” says Kim. Woodstock has a message of encouragement to women on its website, with links to information on how a woman can get started in motorcycling.
The salespeople at Woodstock are on the lookout for new women customers. “If a guy comes in with a woman, we instantly engage the woman,” says Kim. “I have been places with my husband, like car dealerships, where I am buying the car, but the salesman doesn’t speak to me, they speak to him. I will not do that to women in my dealership.”
Janice and Kim have hosted several garage parties (a Harley-Davidson women- only event at a dealership), Ladies’ Nights and female-only maintenance seminars. “We reach out to women who are interested but have a fear of asking stupid questions. These events have worked very well for us.”
“We have every kind of person from every kind of occupation coming in the door,” says Kim. “I look at a customer sometimes and think, ‘Wow, I can’t believe this person rides.’”
There are quite a few people who work in New York City but have second homes in the area. These riders, often more wealthy than average, patronize Woodstock.
The local HOG Chapter and other loyal customers have been the real key to keeping Woodstock afloat during the economic downturn. “Our core customers are the same as they always have been. We see repairs rising as our customers maintain their existing bikes and that makes up for lowered sales to some extent. Our accessories are down, but not by much,” says Kim.
“We have a very active HOG Chapter with a lot of women. They have helped us put on events, both with providing personnel and by renting extra equipment and have put the good word out on the street. They back us.”
Kim has also looked for ways to get more bang for her advertising dollar. “We do a lot more direct advertising to customers and less radio and TV spots. We have found that our most effective advertising is word of mouth.”
That word of mouth message has worked for decades, and this family hopes to keep their legacy strong in the years to come. Janice is in the process of retiring and is only working part-time these days. Kim says she plans to stay with the business until she retires as well. “I would like to some day hand over the reins to my daughter,” she concludes.