A Wolf in the fold
Greg and Beth start a new career
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, July 4–6—With gas prices through the roof many summer vacations are being put on hold. More and more people are staying close to home and that includes motorcycle riders. So this past Fourth of July weekend the riders in North Idaho and Eastern Washington were thrilled when Lone Wolf Harley-Davidson decided to put on their Grand Opening bash all weekend long. Lone Wolf is the brand new Harley-Davidson dealership in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. In our area there was only one dealership and though they are wonderful, it’s nice to have two dealerships to choose from.
Greg and Beth Ernst, owners of Lone Wolf, came to us from St. Louis, Missouri. Though they are avid riders, the Ernsts’ background was in flooring. They owned and operated nine floor covering stores in the St. Louis area. Greg wanted to make a change in their lives and approached Harley-Davidson about becoming the owner of a new Harley-Davidson dealership.
The process to become a dealership owner is long and very tough with an extensive interview process. The Ernsts were one of five groups of candidates chosen for what Harley calls “New Points.” A New Point is a new Harley-Davidson location placed somewhere in the United States. Harley does the demographics of an area and predicts what the present as well as the future forecast is for a dealership. The first location that they were interviewing for was in Bentonville, Arkansas. The interview took five hours in front of a panel of 14. At the end of the interview, Greg and Beth were given a standing ovation, yet someone else was picked to run the Bentonville dealership. Greg was disappointed but didn’t let that stop him. He requested a meeting with one of the Harley executives to see what it was that he could have done better. The answer was, “Have your key employees lined up, without getting them from another dealership.”
When Harley-Davidson began the process to choose the new owner for Coeur d’Alene, Greg and Beth were ready for them. Greg did his homework by networking and reading everything he could to prepare him for this opportunity. His time came. Greg and Beth were chosen to operate the Coeur d’Alene dealership. They flew to Coeur d’Alene and looked around. They instantly fell in love with the area. They met a real estate agent, Tom Fisher, and began looking for the perfect property to build Lone Wolf.
After about a year, in May 2008, at 722 W. Appleway in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Lone Wolf Harley-Davidson opened their doors. Greg said that Beth is wonderful at planning events and she decided to hold off on the Grand Opening until the Fourth of July to allow the new store to work out any kinks that might come up. I asked Greg “Why the Fourth of July weekend? Most motorcycle shops would be closed.” He said that after being in the flooring business for so long, a holiday weekend opening seemed natural. They couldn’t have been more right. I pulled into the parking lot at about 10:00 a.m. and the place was packed. There were people everywhere, vendors set up all around the building and a live band was playing in the back parking area. The new H.O.G. chapter had a booth set up just as you got to the front door and Dan with Ride for Life was selling tickets to the big cancer ride coming later that month. The Combat Vets had two booths set up selling pops and lunch. The pinstriper was George Roybal, Illustrated Air. He is the artist whom I hired to paint murals on three of my bikes so of course we sat and chatted for a while.
I had been working with Rob Christensen, sales representative, on the trade-in of my 2003 Heritage Softail Classic for a newer, bigger bike. I fell in love with the 2008 Ultra Classic with Pearl Black paint. So when I arrived on July 4, I wasn’t there just to look around, I was there to pick up my new bike. Everyone at Lone Wolf was so nice and friendly that they made you feel right at home. Greg personally made sure that everything was as I expected it to be. When I asked him about his business approach he said, “The top three things that I want for this dealership is, respect the customer, be a full service shop, and treat everyone right.” From what I have seen and experienced they are on the right track. While we were walking around, Greg even showed me the service area. It was very roomy and each of his mechanics had all of the tools that they would need to work on the bike. The clothing section had a large variety of items to choose from and the parts department was well stocked with all kinds of bling.
Everyone who purchased a bike got to ring the bell in the store to announce to all present that they were an owner of a new bike and they also got their picture taken with their new bike and it was placed on a large poster board on the showroom floor. I counted three of those boards and each one held about 40 pictures. By my math that’s a lot of bikes in just two months.
Two of my friends, Paul Damon and Mike, rode over to Coeur d’Alene with me to pick up the new bike, so after doing all of the paperwork, we went outside to check out the vendors and the band. We got lunch from the Combat Vets and then headed for home.
When your travels bring you through Coeur d’Alene, stop on by Lone Wolf Harley-Davidson and say hi. They are located right off of I-90 on Appleway, between Highway 95 and the NW Boulevard exits.