110th Anniversary Look Back

110th Anniversary Look Back - Day 260

At one point we had an official publication called Kegel Motorcycle News and in our archives we found the April 2001 issue!

For today's #365daysofkegelhd we thought we'd share the first article and pages!

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"Kegel Motorcycle Company: Life Begins at 90

Over the years the world has seen motorcycle dealers come and go... mostly go. But one that came on the scene back in 1910 is still around, and it's now the world's oldest Harley dealership. Kegel Motorcycle Co., at 7125 Harrison Avenue, Rockford, which sells Harleys, Buells and BMWs, is poised to keep on satisfying customers and making motorcycle history as it enters its 91st year.

This is one dealership that doesn't act its age. While the folks at Kegel Motorcycle are proud of their heritage - the store is still owned and operated by the same family - they also have a grand vision of the future. In fact, they're all geared up for an April 21st Grand Re-Opening to celebrated their expanded and improved service and parts departments. So if you thought this dealership already offered everything a biking enthusiast could want, you better think again. Kegel's is growing again, and this expansion will enlarge the dealership's space to nearly 30,000 square feet.

"We're on a roll, and we're jammed-packed full," is how General Manager Mark Kegel puts it. "When we first moved in here we thought this place would be twice as big as we would ever need. But now we're so packed with bikes we needed more space." Kegel attributes the dealership's remarkable growth to a few simple concepts: "We treat our customers right, and they keep coming back... we know them by name. We stay fresh by changing our displays often. We keep the place looking sharp."

The more bikes the dealership sells, the more customers bring in for service. "This expansion will open up the service department for three more bays, and then I'll hire two more techs," said Service Manger Rich Olson. "This will enable us to schedule more appointments and give our customers faster turnaround on their bikes. We'll be able to get them in and out more quickly."

This good news for Kegel's customers who are bringing their bikes out of winter storage. Now they'll be able to take full advantage of the service department's factory trained techs, machine shop, dyno testing and other state-of-the-art capabilities. "Our service philosophy is to do it right the first time, for as little money as possible," Olson said. "And we audit our service customers to make sure they're satisfied with our work. This is important, since we have a lot of repeat business - some of our customers go back three generations."

The parts department also gains some much-needed space. "Gotta have more room," said Parts Manager Ben McCollum. "We sell a lot of parts, from special-built engines and frames to normal tune-up and maintenance parts. Some of the riders want something more exotic, and we take care of them too. If they don't know exactly what they want, we'll get my catalogs out, find what they want, make sure it fits their bike and order it up for them." The expansion will enable McCollum to improve inventory in larger items such as wheels, seats, and backrests that he didn't have room for, as well as creating space for new products. Improved inventory means less waiting time for parts and more time on the road - where that bike belongs.

The April 21st celebration will feature a "ribbon cutting" for the new expansion, door prizes, discounts on selected MotorClothes, accessories, parts, tires and other biking goodies. There will also be plenty of vendors, fun things to do, and a dyno shoot out for those who want to stake a claim on horsepower bragging rights.

Events likes this, along with Kegel's community involvement and emphasis on pleasing people, keep their business booming. Having employees who are biking enthusiasts themselves help too, "I've got the best crew working for me now that I've ever had," Kegel says. "Our employees are great."

"Our customers tell us they've never been to another dealership tat gives them the customer service that they get here," says General Merchandise and Marketing Manager Susan Sheley. "They feel like they're part family. Our customer base is growing by leaps and bounds."

While Kegel Motorcycle Co has been around for a long time, these folks are not content with past successes. They continue to look into the future to find ways to improve the dealership and satisfy their customers. Often they even anticipate what's going to be needed. Sheley puts it this way: "We go into the market and we're looking for new products. Most of the time we don't find what we're looking for. So we tell them what we need."

Sounds like pretty spry behavior for a 90-year-old.

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