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From left, Dominick Cricchio, manager of the apparel licensing department; Ty Harris, general manager; and Chad Anderson, vice president of operations, lead the Renegade Harley-Davidson team.
Sony Hocklander | SBJ
From left, Dominick Cricchio, manager of the apparel licensing department; Ty Harris, general manager; and Chad Anderson, vice president of operations, lead the Renegade Harley-Davidson team.

Business Spotlight: Full Throttle

New ownership family turns up the sales and systems at Springfield Harley-Davidson shop

Posted online

The family-owned H&H Automotive was looking to expand, but not necessarily into motorcycles and certainly not in the Springfield market.

The auto dealership founded in 1930 in Omaha, Nebraska, had in 2016 increased the Chevrolet and Kia auto lines it carried to include Land Rover, BMW, Mini and Jaguar.

Harley-Davidson wasn’t even on the radar, says Chad Anderson, who joined H&H that year.

“The first Harley-Davidson store in Lincoln popped on their radar but it wasn’t something we were looking for with intent,” says Anderson, now vice president of Harley-Davidson operations for the auto group owned by Steve Hinchcliff and his son Jeff – the grandson and great-grandson of H&H founder August Hinchcliff.

But when a broker pointed it out, Anderson says it quickly made a lot of sense.

When they discovered a Springfield Harley dealership – formerly Denney’s Harley-Davidson – recently was up for sale by Mark Denney and family, he says it was another logical move, despite the distance.

Anderson cites similarities between the two communities, as well as core demographics and an attractive location. The combination of mountainous roads, Route 66 and Branson are hard to beat, he says.

“This market has so many folks who come here as a destination,” Anderson says. “The riding down here is off-the-charts awesome. Everything just felt right.”

H&H opened as Renegade Harley-Davidson in January 2021, its first store outside of Nebraska, and Anderson says sales have been on an incline since.

“Overall sales were up 50%,” Anderson says of the first year under H&H’s ownership. “There were plenty of challenges, but overall, it was a really good year.

“Our forecast for 2022 is to be up another 50% in overall sales, on bike sales but also growing our service department.”

Declining to disclose annual revenues, Anderson says bike sales account for 70% of store revenue; service, parts and accessories, 20%; and merchandise, 10%.

New territory
Anderson says among the keys to sales growth are the systems and processes H&H already had in place for the auto side.

“Because of the seasonality of the business, it’s not easy for a stand-alone Harley store to provide the support to operate at a high level,” says Anderson. “Having the backing of a large auto family – benefits, human resources, systems – it would be atypical in the Harley world.”

The new systems streamlined operations in the end, but that’s not to say there weren’t growing pains.

Renegade General Manager Ty Harris says cultural changes initially caused some turbulence.

Some positions were eliminated when functions, such as accounting and HR, were absorbed in Nebraska and new processes were introduced.

“It was a bit of a challenge in the beginning because we have a lot more measuring sticks for accountability than the employees were used to. But now they like them,” says Harris, who moved to Springfield from Nebraska to manage the store.

Dominick Cricchio, Renegade’s apparel and licensing manager, is among the employees who helped work through the transition.

Cricchio, who has worked at the Springfield dealership for about 15 years, says there were “elements of concern, but a little excitement as well,” in transitioning from the Denneys’ ownership.

“We’d worked with that family for years. The change was exciting in that there was something new, but also, a new era. What does that entail?”

Overall, Cricchio says the addition of resources and streamlined management has been a boon for the dealership.

“It took us to the next level – to have a full (information technology) department is something new,” he says.

Leaning into change
Anderson says he believes Renegade will hit the 50% sales growth target this year.

“Due to the location and number of people who come here, we think there’s an opportunity to double,” he says. “We’re super bullish not only on the brand but the market in general.”

And the Renegade team members say the way to build that growth is through customer experiences. Selling Harley-Davidson motorcycles and branded merchandise is all about the lifestyle, they say.

“It’s such a customer-experience-driven business model because what we’re doing, nobody needs,” Anderson says. “It’s not like the car business where you need a car to get around. Some people use that word, need, but we know the reality.”

Harris says he is building on the success of the events calendar the previous owners established and designing new ways of engaging with the different types of Harley owners.

Anderson says it’s a mistake to think of the average Harley owner as a gray-bearded man. He says age and gender are irrelevant when it comes to the customer demographic.

Harris offers an illustration of how reasons for wanting a Harley can vary.

“I like to ride. That’s my plan,” Harris says. “But there’s a lot of customers who love to own. They love to keep them in their garages, look at them and customize it – and take to bike shows.”

Cricchio says that customer diversity is reflected in the variety of merchandise Renegade carries, from man-cave furnishings to jewelry.

His view for the coming year is as rosy as Anderson’s: “Record-breaking,” Cricchio says. “The path I see forward is seeing what the Springfield market has to offer this business still. I think it’s so far from being tapped, even with the highs we saw last year.”

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