HAWTHORNE, CALIF., JULY 19-21—Did you ever look with approval at a going concern and say to yourself, now why didn’t I think of that? Who could have foreseen that a motorcycle rental business started in a garage with four bikes would grow to define and dominate an industry?
When you consider that not one of a number of other motorcycle rental concerns around the world ever managed to take it to the next level, it must mean that EagleRider Co-Founders Chris McIntyre and his partner Jeff Brown have figured out a business model that works like a proverbial charm. In the world of motorcycle rental companies, EagleRider is Hertz, Avis, National, Budget and Enterprise all rolled into one. On Saturday, July 21, hundreds gathered to celebrate two decades of success at EagleRider’s 20th Anniversary Party at the corporate headquarters in Hawthorne.
Are you ready for some numbers that will illustrate the extent of EagleRider’s success? Since 1992 they have served over 500,000 customers and purchased more than $250,000,000 worth of motorcycles and accessories. So how did an upstart company with less than a half-dozen bikes become the single largest purchaser of new Harley-Davidson motorcycles in the world? Maybe it had something to do with their motto: “We rent dreams.” With dogged determination, McIntyre and Brown see to it that from the minute a potential client calls and reaches an operator he or she will be completely satisfied with the EagleRider experience from pick-up to drop-off.
Riders from all over the world come to the U.S.A. to enjoy the abundance of inspirational roadways found within our borders. This group accounts for about 50 percent of EagleRider’s domestic business. That means that fully half of all rentals in the U.S.A. are booked by American riders who may want to take an extended test ride or do some local touring. Or maybe they’ve traveled by bus, air or rail and they need a bike to ride when they arrive at their destination. In recent years, McIntyre and Brown have set up EagleRider rental businesses in several different countries. You can get a rental that comes complete with GPS so you can just mount up and go, or you may opt for one of the guided tours that last a few days on up to more than a week. These guided tours are not only available in the U.S.A., but all over the globe, as well.
The dynamic duo of McIntyre and Brown decided that their 20th Anniversary Celebration would be the perfect time to give back to the community by making a donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Los Angeles. What’s more, they opened the event to the public, charged a $40 admission fee and donated those proceeds to Make-A-Wish, as well. But they weren’t finished; the guys scheduled a fundraising poker run earlier in the day in order to further maximize the donation. I guess it’s not all that surprising that two men who put so much of themselves into their business would do the same when given the opportunity to help out a worthy cause.
Now, let’s talk about the party. Things got started at the EagleRider main offices in Hawthorne, just minutes away from LAX, on Thursday with a sales event. Friday brought more of the same, but also included bands and food. On Saturday things got started with the poker run from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. At 8:00 that evening, the serious revelry commenced while DJs cranked out hip-hop tunes on the patio, and rock bands Metal Shop and Anthem held forth on a stage set up in the main building. That all culminated with a set by former Guns & Roses Guitarist Gilby Clarke shortly after midnight. In another section of the building, guests enjoyed winning prizes while gaming at the tables set up in the charity casino area.
EagleRider and House of Thunder girls circulated throughout the facility, posing for photos and generally adding just the proper amount of sass to the proceedings. The tantalizing aroma emanating from the Brazilian barbecue grill had people lined up halfway to the street in anticipation of char-grilled beef, chicken and assorted sides. Those who chose not to queue up had the option to patronize the gourmet food trucks parked out front. And that was just what was going on around the property. The street in front of the place was barricaded off for the burnouts and the sportbike stunt show. Later that evening the trashy lingerie show/wet T-shirt contest got underway with predictable results. Did I mention the drinks from the top-shelf bar were free all night long?
Early on in the evening, I hooked up with THUNDER PRESS Advertising Director Stuart Sutherland. We hung out with the other Harley guys in attendance, Mark Ruffalo, owner of California Harley-Davidson in Harbor City, California, and president of the SoCal Dealers Association, and Doug McGuire, owner of Old Road Harley-Davidson in Santa Clarita, California.
As the evening raged on, I noticed that there were fewer party goers dressed in jeans and T-shirts, and an increasing number decked out in designer clothes and sporting expensively coiffed locks (and not just the ladies). Plus, the age demographic dipped at least 20 years. The cool thing about the scene was that rather than getting a “what are these old farts doing here” vibe, Mark, Doug, Bill, Stu and I found ourselves enthusiastically accepted and encouraged to party as hard as we wanted to. Oh, those L.A. nights!