LAS VEGAS, NEV., FEB. 27-28—After serving more than three years as the editor for the Antelope Valley Harley Owners Group, I was finally able to escape from work and attend my first Harley Owners Group Officer Training in Las Vegas. Or was I?
About one week before I was scheduled to catch a plane for Las Vegas I received a call from Joe Perea, the head honcho at A.V. H.O.G. He asked me if I had received an e-mail confirming my participation in the upcoming training. I sheepishly replied, “Well, not really.” It turns out that I kinda messed up and the registration was already closed.
I placed a semi-panicked phone call to the Harley Owners Group hotline and was eventually called by Bruce Motta. I explained my plight and he took care of everything to accommodate me.
Bruce has worked for The Motor Company for 11 years and is regional manager for the Harley Owners Group. He is the man that organizes and drives these well-run events, and is an all-around good guy.
H.O.T. is the current acronym the brass at The Motor Company uses to describe the Harley Owners Group Officer Training. This acronym replaces the less politically correct, but amusing, P.O.T. The training was originally called Primary Office Training.
Planet Hollywood rolled out the orange and black welcome mat for all of the H.O.G. members and their guests. The officers and guests must have looked like a marauding army dressed in black leather and tattoos, but everyone working there from the check-in staff to the dealers were very friendly and accommodating.
On Friday morning after an excellent breakfast, the eager and energetic officers were pleasantly surprised when Karen Davidson was introduced as the keynote speaker. She gave a very entertaining opening speech where she told the audience that, “Diversity unites us.” Karen also narrated a video clip about her trip to India where she had to dodge cows and cars while riding and attending the first H.O.G. rally in that country. After all of the opening ceremonies were completed, the capacity crowd was off to the different classes for the chapter officers that came from as far away as Alaska, Florida, Tennessee and Hawaii.
Many of the chapters from all over the country, large or small, have very similar issues. Such as, “How do we attract younger members?” “How do we raise money?” and “How do we make everyone happy?” All of the instructors did a remarkable job trying to address these issues and others that came up during the weekend. After Friday’s session was completed, attendees were eagerly anticipating the Friday night festivities. After enjoying an excellent dinner the crowd was entertained into the night by the rock band Deja Vu from Chicago. The rockers played hit cover songs from the Stones to Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Saturday morning most of the attendees were still a bit foggy, likely from Friday evening’s fun. However, Bruce Motta and his staff got everyone fired up for the last day of classes. Fortunately for me, when speaking to Bruce on the phone about my registration flub, I asked him if he could spare a few minutes from his busy weekend to be interviewed for this article. To my delight he agreed without hesitation.
Friday afternoon Bruce and I sat down together for a few minutes. He also suggested that we include Steve Piehl, who was the original organizing force behind the Harley Owners Group back in January of 1983. I agreed without a second thought.
The theme for the weekend was “Built from the ground up.” Steve Piehl, who is now the manager of Event Strategy for North America for Harley, explained that it means Harley-Davidson is always looking for new ideas and trying new things. I asked Bruce how many chapters were represented here this weekend, and he said there were 200 out of the 654 chapters, with 758 officers in attendance. I was curious about his vision for the future of H.O.G., and he said, “H.O.G. is the most successful riding club in history and we need to keep having fun.”
After closing ceremonies Saturday afternoon, the officers and their guests were full of knowledge and fresh ideas to take back to their respective chapters. New friends were made and bid farewell. The Harley-Davidson staff also reminded everyone that, “What is learned in Vegas, does not stay in Vegas.”