As a first time Harley owner, I found myself in need of my (new to me) 2014 Street Glide Special’s 20,000-mile service. Being located in a major metropolitan city I had several options but finding myself without a trailer I would need a shop close enough for a ride. Last fall as I prepared for my upcoming winter rides I visited several local bike shops for various needs. Located East of Atlanta my travels eventually brought me by Cycle World in Athens (CWA).
I immediately felt welcomed when I stopped in for a few T’s, a jacket and some gloves. I was greeted warmly by the staff and my experience at this dealership was exceptional. Perhaps it’s the big oak tree out front, or the lap board front porch, but this place just felt right, almost like home.
As a new Harley owner some folks (at Dealerships) assume you know everything you need for your bike so it was refreshing when their Service Advisor Sid Hilliard asked specifics about my bike, riding habits and history while guiding me through recommended service while determining my needs and setting up my appointment. He even called me to confirm my appointment a day prior.
Started in 1975 by Dan and Betty Nuckolls and their family, this 43-year old dealership has grown to represent Harley Davidson, Polaris, Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha. Their diverse service department is a great example of how they successfully maintain of these brands for their customers.
Upon arrival, Service Advisor Rachel greeted me promptly and went over my bike with clipboard in hand reviewing everything from rubber to windshield. It was my first sign of this team’s vast experience when she quickly said “your tire tread is very low and should be replaced – and your rear brake pads are also gone”. She jumped right into their options on tires and had broad knowledge of brands pros and cons.
I was sent to their killer customer lounge, complete with leather sofas, Free Wi-Fi, hot coffee and a foosball table to wait for my meeting with business and marketing manager Mike Newell. Mike introduced me to the service team as they began work on my bike and we sat down to chat about his history at the dealership and their goals. Mike is a US veteran and current Fire Fighter in addition to his role at ACW and is another example of the integrity and commitment these folks have to their customers and community. ACW sponsors many events during the year with the two most significant being their Ride to Remember in early September in Honor of 9/11 and their Ride for Georgia’s Fallen in May to honor fallen service members from our state. They also raise money for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation and the Salvation Army through rides and events.
Back in the service bay I had a chance to chat with Shop Foreman and seasoned technician Steve Winn. Steve is another fine example of this team’s investment in people and introduces me to his young and determined apprentice Wright who he is mentoring and training. Steve has been at ACW for over 30 years. He began washing bikes when he was 15 years old and is now the veteran. It was fun watching this guy work on a bike. He is the real deal and works quickly and effortlessly – I seriously think he could change a tire blind folded.
Regardless whether you’re walking around the showroom, retail areas, or the service department (Customers aren’t allowed for safety reasons) one can’t help but notice how friendly everyone is. I’m approached by Service Manager Jim Russell as he is wrapping up a visit with a local longtime customer/vendor. As with everyone I spoke to, Jim is very approachable and takes time to chat even though there are bikes up on every lift and his team is furiously wrenching. Jim tells me they have technicians with experience ranging from Steve with 30 years to new guys who have only been there 2+ years. In total there are over 100 Years of motorcycle and ATV service experience represented in their team of technicians and support personnel.
There is an old adage in the retail bike business that says “R=R” or Rides Equals Revenue. That comes across as a somewhat cold and crass equation that points to an almost greedy business truism. It is refreshing in this very competitive motorcycle day and age that there is a local shop who understands the key to sustaining and growing their organization is more through building and maintaining relationships than just making a buck. It’s obvious that GM Shelly Embrick and the team strive to focus on the customer and their experiences and interactions while at ACW. In my brief time riding biker culture has shown me that people who ride love to meet and chat with other riders and you invariably find common ground and interests, this was also the case when chatting with everyone in the ACW organization. I constantly ran into people who offered a warm greeting and a smile and we invariably found common interests in both our biking life and life in general. There’s no wonder they have several multi-year veterans in the ACW family.
In a mere three hours I was climbing onto my fully washed SGS (thanks Robbie & crew) with new tires, rear brakes and all new fluids. All though I was headed home I couldn’t help but feel as I turned left out of the driveway past the big oak that I would be returning to spend time with the Athens H.O.G. chapter and my new family at Athens Cycle world. I’m sure they will save me a spot on the porch.
Cycle World of Athens
Showroom & Service Hours:
Monday – Friday 9AM-6PM
Saturday – 9AM – 5PM
Address: 4225 Atlanta Hwy. Athens, GA 30606
H.O.G. Chapter: http://athens-hog.com/code/Home.aspx
Service Team Picture:
Jim Russell – service manager
Steve Winn – shop foreman
Wright Hawkins – Apprentice
Ward Gilbert – technician
Chris Epps – technician
Kevin Strong – technician
Lee Barclay – technician
Robbie Love – support staff
Dustin Green – support staff
Rachel Hixson – Service Advisor
NOTE: This article was published in Born To Ride magazine Southeast Issue #62