It is not a motorcycle, it is a Harley-Davidson. And it is not a hobby, it is a lifestyle. Those under the spell of Harley-Davidson claim that the Harley provides its rider a peculiar thrill that comes from controlling a powerful beast. That the beauty of the moment is found in a combination of leather whipping in the shrieking wind and the throaty growl of the Harley engine streaking down the open road. For over 105 years, the Harley-Davidson tradition has thrived. In that time, the bike culture among those who favor the sleek, sensual lines of a Harley has evolved from the bad boy rebel on society’s fringe to a $9 billion mainstream market, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council. But Harley enthusiasts are anything but mundane, and they have to buy their chrome, leather, parts and accessories somewhere.
Horny Toad Harley-Davidson in Temple, TX caters to the needs of the local biker community. Their retail space sells all things Harley-Davidson, from motorcycles, parts and accessories for a customized ride, to motor clothes and gifts. More than that, Horny Toad is the local chapter for the Harley Owners Group (HOG), a group of people with shared passions for scorching asphalt on two wheels and creating community. Today’s riders come from all walks of life, from multi-millionaires to laborers. Part of the beauty of the Harley lifestyle is that from the minute people buy their first Harley, they are welcomed into the biker family. Blue collar and white collar differences disappear when the leather jacket goes on, giving individuals an opportunity to get to know people they wouldn’t normally meet. And there must be something to it, since contemporary biker gangs are notorious for their charitable work. In fact, HOGs’ charity involvement is one of the defining factors that makes ownership of an American Harley-Davidson preferable to ownership of a Japanese-made counterpart.
George Lee, owner of Horny Toad Harley-Davidson is something of a community leader. To better accommodate enthusiasts, Lee built a brand new dealership for the well-established biker family of Central Texas. The space was completed early in 2009, and has become a hub for Harley culture. The facility includes a motorcycle dealership with sales, service and parts, and a huge retail section. Lee also has building experience, so he entered the project with a vision of how he wanted the space to look and an understanding of how it had to perform.
To achieve a look of rustic elegance that highlights the leather and chrome merchandise, Lee had in mind Brazilian cherry hardwood flooring. But he knew that in addition to usual retail wear and tear, the flooring would have to withstand regular boot and bike traffic. So Lee did a little research. By the time he contacted Hoelscher Flooring, he was aware of Wilsonart® Contract Flooring. “He knew the look he wanted and the kind of abuse the floor would have to take,” says Mike Hoelscher, owner of Hoelscher Flooring, “but he did not realize that HPL has evolved to provide the visual effect and durability he needed.” Although Lee was initially skeptical of laminate, he needed high-performance that could not be found in other products. And the promise of minimal routine-maintenance was very attractive. The Horny Toad chapter of HOG has a full schedule of charity events. Biker gangs don’t have time to sand, finish and polish flooring. “By the time the Wilsonart Flooring was installed he was beyond impressed,” says Hoelscher.
For nearly a year, hoards of bikers have walked or rolled across the Figured Peruvian Cherry Wilsonart Contract Flooring, and it still looks great. Horny Toad H-D General Manager Drew Bierds thinks the flooring not only performs, but helps people to feel comfortable in the retail space. “When people feel good in an area they will stay in that space longer, which is great for business,” says Bierds. “Plus the floor has worn really well. We move fixtures all the time and every once in a while something gets dropped on it. The durability and impact resistance are unbeatable.”
Despite the obvious differences, Harley-Davidson motorcycles and Wilsonart Flooring have a lot in common. Both are high performance products made in the USA. In their own ways, each product appeals to people who appreciate beauty and social responsibility. And both offer people a means to express themselves.
The Harley-Davidson lifestyle is about freedom, but it is also about creating a community that is open to all enthusiasts. After all, everything looks cool with leather and chrome, including Wilsonart Flooring.
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