In 1903, William Harley and Arthur Davidson built the first Harley-Davidson motorcycle. If you can imagine, the factory was a 10×15 foot wooden shed with the words ‘Harley-Davidson Motor Company’ crudely scrawled on the door. From those humble beginnings to the company’s current success, Harley-Davidson continues to fuel the passions of their many loyal customers. For Dave Johnson, when the opportunity to purchase a Harley dealership in Chilliwack presented itself, it was a no brainer. “This was an iconic brand that appealed to the baby boomers in an underdeveloped market. This was the attraction for me,” he said, passionately.
Dave was born and raised in the mining city of Flin Flon, Manitoba. “I had a very hard-working dad who worked in the smelter. He was a great, blue-collar kinda guy and my mom was a nurse at the Flin Flon General Hospital.” The eldest of three children, Dave was extremely close to his brother and sister and fiercely devoted to his father. “Dad and I were so close. He was such a young and active guy. He would go out and shingle your roof, even at the age of 75. He died some years back of brain cancer and I really do miss him,” he reflected.
While attending Neepawa Area Collegiate Institute, Dave was a rather social student who enjoyed and excelled at various sports. “I played most sports at quite a high level, except hockey. This is quite odd coming from Manitoba and Saskatchewan. I spent many a day on the sidelines watching my buddies playing hockey,” he laughed.
Dave has fond memories of his first motorcycle which he purchased at the age of fifteen. “It was a Honda 125 dirt bike and I rode that thing everywhere. It was the first of four bikes that I owned. The last one that I purchased was back in 1978 and it was a Suzuki GS1000. After that, I didn’t touch another motorcycle until I moved here,” he said.
Although he was a very handy guy, Dave didn’t have a clue as to what he wanted to pursue after graduation. “I began working for my father in the engineering division of Edson Manufacturing, making all kinds of recreational vehicle products. I eventually got into building boats. Then, in 1983, the gas prices and interest rates hit the roof and my dad and his partners decided to close the doors as it was no longer a sustainable business. They closed the doors before they had to,” he explained.
From there, Dave took on a job as manager of a video store. “I was renting Beta and VHS videos and I also convinced Apple to allow us to become an Apple dealer. I bought one of the original 128K Mac computers. Too bad I didn’t hold on to it,” he chuckled. After two years in the video business, he was recruited and subsequently hired by Xerox as a Territory Sales Rep. “I did this for 18 years and sure made a lot of money. This was a fabulous opportunity and the training was great. I learned so much and although I liked it from that perspective, I didn’t love it. In my mind, I was always working so hard for someone else and I began thinking of working for myself.”
Then, nine years ago, the opportunity to purchase Chilliwack’s Harley-Davidson dealership presented itself and Dave jumped on it. “We sold our house in Calgary, we sold our vehicles, cashed in our RRSPs and convinced a couple of people to invest in this incredible brand and moved here in January 2003. We purchased the business three months later and opened up Mountainview Harley-Davidson Chilliwack which was formerly Harley-Davidson of Chilliwack. I must admit that we’ve never looked back. I love coming to work and I love what I do. We employ 14 people and they are incredible. We really are blessed to have such a great team,” he enthused.
Mountainview Harley-Davidson is not just a motorcycle shop; it’s a Harley-Davidson retail store and truly an experience. When I walked in, I was quite surprised. I must admit that I was expecting a stereotypical motorcycle shop but what I found was a large store filled with tons of products that would appeal to both hard-core riders as well as those that just want to be part of the brand. There were the motorcycles and the parts and accessories, obviously, but they also had jewellery, pet products, clothing, novelties, gifts and more. They even had a Harley-Davidson popcorn machine. “The store is a real experience and we always try to go the extra mile for our customers.”
Quite aside from his work, Dave loves spending time, at home, with his family. He credits his wife, Lori, with so much of their success and speaks glowingly of her accomplishments. “My family is the most important thing to me. I also enjoy woodworking in my spare time and I value our community. As a company, we are and will continue to be supporters of those things that are relevant and important to our community,” he ended.