Bert's Black Widow

An en­trepreneur's story, choos­ing Port Char­lotte over the oth­ers

Cape Coral Living - - Cape Departmens - BY CRAIG GAR­RETT Craig Gar­rett is Group Ed­i­tor-in-Chief for TOTI Me­dia.

Bert King has walked along­side busi­ness ti­tans. So the ques­tion is, what prompted him at age 57 to pur­chase a mo­tor­cy­cle deal­er­ship in a small town in South­west Florida? Easy, he says, “be­cause it was my bucket-list goal to own [a Har­ley-David­son] deal­er­ship af­ter age 50 and to own a home by the beach. And there’s some­thing about this mar­ket; there’s a charm to it. I’ve re­ally en­joyed it.” An auto dealer with stores in Texas, King sold his busi­nesses in 2008 and be­gan shop­ping for Har­ley fran­chises from Ari­zona to Florida. He set­tled in 2015 on the Black Widow Har­ley-David­son in Port Char­lotte, re­tag­ging it Bert’s Black Widow. He in­vested in mar­ket­ing it, he says, quickly driv­ing sales to the high­est rank­ing in vol­ume among Florida’s 17 or so deal­ers. The 35,000-square-foot fa­cil­ity of­fers parts and ser­vice and usu­ally has 300 or so mo­tor­cy­cles on the sales floor. His Port Char­lotte deal­er­ship is also tops in mer­chan­dis­ing sales, he says, which prompted the pur­chase last Au­gust of an­other Har­ley-David­son fran­chise. The sec­ond one is the for­mer Jim’s Har­ley in St. Peters­burg, now known as Bert’s Bar­racuda Har­ley-David­son. King says buy­ers visit Bert’s Black Widow from all cor­ners of the Sun­shine State, but most are from South­west Florida. In the last quar­ter of 2015, he says, Bert’s Black Widow sold nearly 600 mo­tor­cy­cles, av­er­ag­ing $3 mil­lion in sales each month. This vol­ume placed

Bert’s Black Widow in the top 10 per­cent of Har­ley-David­son deal­er­ships in the U.S. There are some 1,400 deal­ers in 90 coun­tries. The par­ent com­pany in 2015 sold nearly 268,000 mo­tor­cy­cles and accessories that gen­er­ated about $6 bil­lion in over­all sales. The com­pany was founded in 1903 by Wil­liam S. Har­ley and the brothers Arthur and Wal­ter David­son, in Mil­wau­kee. King, who over much of his ca­reer sold cars, run­ning or own­ing deal­er­ships in Texas, was men­tored by such busi­ness leg­ends as Billy Joe “Red” McCombs and Larry Van Tuyl. McCombs is a busi­ness ty­coon and for­mer owner of sev­eral pro­fes­sional sports fran­chises, and Van Tuyl sold his auto deal­er­ship em­pire to War­ren Buffett, the in­vest­ment mogul. King’s two men­tors to­day are worth bil­lions. At about age 50, King be­gan look­ing at re­tire­ment and be­gan his quest for a Har­ley fran­chise. To­day you can find him work­ing his deal­er­ships decked out in Har­ley gear and boots, greet­ing vis­i­tors on the floor. He trav­els be­tween the two lo­ca­tions, work­ing his ex­pe­ri­ence and magic on those who now see him as the men­tor. “It’s very hum­bling what’s hap­pen­ing,” he says. “And it’s not like work, it’s fun.”

Bert's Black Widow opened in 2015. Bert's Bar­racuda Har­ley-David­son opened in St. Peters­burg in Au­gust.

Bert King (cen­ter) is a for­mer auto dealer. His Bert's Black Widow Har­ley-David­son in Port Char­lotte is a top fran­chise.

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