Easy Rider

A VISIT TO SIX BENDS HAR­LEY-DAVID­SON EN­COM­PASSES MORE THAN BEAU­TI­FUL MO­TOR­CY­CLES. IT'S A JOUR­NEY INTO ANOTHER LIFESTYLE WHERE PAS­SION AND ART MEET.

Gulf & Main - - Gulf & Main - BY PA­TRI­CIA LETAKIS

Scott Fis­cher’s hard work and com­mu­nity in­volve­ment shine at his Six Bends Har­ley-David­son com­plex.

when Har­ley-David­son mo­tor­cy­cle riders get to­gether, it’s like a work of art in mo­tion cruis­ing down the high­way. The ma­chines, each cus­tom made to the color and chrome schemes of the buy­ers, are so pol­ished that you can see your re­flec­tion in the bikes. Even the han­dle­bars are artis­tic cre­ations chris­tened with names such as Drag Bars, Scram­ble, Z Bars and Six Bends.

You re­ally don’t have to be a mo­tor­cy­cle en­thu­si­ast to ap­pre­ci­ate the qual­ity work­man­ship put into these Hogs and the ten­der lov­ing care the own­ers be­stow on them. What’s fas­ci­nat­ing though is how it all be­gan. In 1901, Wil­liam S. Har­ley, at the age of 21, cre­ated a blue­print draw­ing of an en­gine de­signed to fit into a bi­cy­cle. To­gether with his pal Arthur David­son they built the first Har­ley-David­son mo­tor­cy­cle in a small wooden shed in Mil­wau­kee. Fast for­ward over the last 100 years and you’ll see how his idea mor­phed into a lifestyle em­braced quite pas­sion­ately by Har­ley own­ers.

Scott Fis­cher, CEO of Scott Fis­cher En­ter­prises and owner of the new Six Bends Har­ley-David­son deal­er­ship in Fort My­ers, knows this kind of pas­sion well. For 40 years, he’s worked in the mo­tor­cy­cle busi­ness. “From age 13 to 20, I raced mo­tocross and worked in mo­tor­cy­cle shops,” he says of his years grow­ing up in Ohio. “I did all the

“TO­DAY MY PAS­SION COMES FROM BUILD­ING A GREAT COM­PANY MORE THAN THE RID­ING.”

— SCOTT FIS­CHER

re­pairs and main­te­nance on my bikes. I used to get mini bikes and dirt bikes for Christ­mas.”

From 1982 to 1987, Fis­cher was the gen­eral man­ager of a mo­tor­cy­cle shop in Colum­bus, and in 1987, he moved to Fort My­ers to run the Har­ley-David­son/Kawasaki shop on Fowler Street. It wasn’t but a few years be­fore he bought it and set out to ex­pand his busi­ness in 1990.

To­day he has deal­er­ships in Fort My­ers and Naples, Fla.; Hick­ory, N.C. (near Char­lotte); Huntsville, Ala.; and Al­bu­querque, N.M.

But Fis­cher, who wears a black shirt with the Har­ley-David­son logo and his short, straw­berry-blond hair spiked, is the first to ad­mit that it’s all about the pas­sion. His phi­los­o­phy has al­ways been: “Find your pas­sion and make that pas­sion your work.” And the busi­ness­man prac­tices what he preaches, tak­ing his love for rid­ing and turn­ing it into some­thing big­ger. “To­day my pas­sion comes from build­ing a great com­pany more than the rid­ing,” Fis­cher says.

Six Bends, which sits just off In­ter­state-75 near Daniels Park­way, is an­chored by an im­pres­sive two-story build­ing selling Har­ley-David­son bikes and mer­chan­dise. Ad­ja­cent is the ser­vice depart­ment, with its 18 tech­ni­cians, that’s as at­trac­tive as the sparkling show­room. Sur­round­ing the store is a plaza with or­ange and yel­low shade canopies. A fire pit area pro­vides benches for visi­tors who care to sit awhile and so­cial­ize. And just be­yond is an open space set aside for fu­ture re­tail shops, restau­rants and a craft brew­ery.

At the prop­erty’s far end, Top Rocker Field, de­signed for out­door con­certs and sport­ing events, has been a real hit. Stars such as Bret Michaels and Ed­die Money have per­formed here. Food trucks are brought in and week­end events of­ten draw 200 to 300 peo­ple. “It’s not just mu­sic con­certs; we also have plans for art fes­ti­vals and Cinco de Mayo and St. Pa­trick’s Day events,” says Fis­cher, adding that fundrais­ers are part of the mix.

In fact this past Jan­uary, the Cat­tle Baron’s Ball to ben­e­fit the Amer­i­can Can­cer So­ci­ety was held at Six Bends. Large tents were set up for the silent auc­tion, din­ing and danc­ing. “The Har­ley-David­son mo­tor­cy­cles gave it a cool, young and hip at­mos­phere. The venue was some­thing dif­fer­ent, rather than a ho­tel,” says Lisa Co­va­zos, co­or­di­na­tor of distin­guished events at the Amer­i­can Can­cer So­ci­ety for the South Gulf Coast re­gion. “Ev­ery­one loved it; they said it was the best ever Cat­tle Baron’s Ball,” she says. “It was sold out, and we had to bring in ex­tra ta­bles.” Based on the event’s over­whelm­ing suc­cess, or­ga­niz­ers booked Six Bends for the 2016 ball sched­uled for Jan­uary 16.

In his ef­forts to make Six Bends a place the whole com­mu­nity can en­joy, Fis­cher also cre­ated the Six Bends Eco Trail on the

prop­erty. Na­tive plants have sig­nage and school field trips are welcome. It’s de­signed so stu­dents can visit the trail and learn about South­west Florida’s fo­liage, he points out.

As a con­fi­dent busi­ness­man, Fis­cher was look­ing for a way to bring riders and non-riders to­gether and with Six Bends, he seems to have found a for­mula that works. “Our fo­cus is to grow our busi­ness be­yond in­dus­try lim­its. Two per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion rides; we need three per­cent,” he says.

The Har­ley-David­son cus­tomer base ranges in age from 25 to 65 and from hard-core bike en­thu­si­asts to up­per-class riders who like the sta­tus of a Har­ley. Pro­fes­sion­als who ride on week­ends as well as sea­sonal visi­tors who come to Florida to es­cape win­ter’s cold are among his cus­tomers. There are also the mo­tor­cy­cle clubs—the Blue Knights In­ter­na­tional Law En­force­ment Mo­tor­cy­cle Club com­posed of ac­tive and re­tired of­fi­cers who en­joy rid­ing bikes and Har­ley-David­son’s own HOG club, which stands for Har­ley Own­ers Group—that get to­gether at Six Bends.

How­ever, Fis­cher be­lieves one of the next growth mar­kets for him is selling to women. “Twenty per­cent of pur­chases are by women. We work hard on get­ting their busi­ness,” he says. One way women, or any cus­tomer, can try out a mo­tor­cy­cle is to hop on the Jump­tail, which is a sta­tion­ary mo­tor­cy­cle at the store’s en­trance that riders can take through all the gears.

And hav­ing a rid­ing academy at the fa­cil­ity is also a real plus, es­pe­cially for first-time mo­tor­cy­cle own­ers. The class is lim­ited to 24 stu­dents and takes place in up­stairs class­rooms. There are even night classes to ac­com­mo­date work­ing peo­ple. Since al­most ev­ery­one who takes the rid­ing academy has the in­ten­tion of buy­ing a mo­tor­cy­cle, Fis­cher re­funds the cost of the class when the bike is pur­chased.

But as any­one who steps foot in Six Bends can con­firm, it’s all about the Har­ley ex­pe­ri­ence. Re­cep­tion­ists dressed in black shirts with the or­ange-and-black Har­ley-David­son logo greet cus­tomers and upon re­quest give tours of Six Bends. A high­top bar anchors the so­cial cen­ter where cof­fee and snacks are avail­able. Events are posted on a ride board, along with route in­for­ma­tion and brochures.

Cav­ernous with su­per high ceil­ings and red brick ac­cent walls, the 54,000-square-foot store boasts row upon row of mo­tor­cy­cles—not a sin­gle one the same. “As for the bikes, cus­tomiza­tion is the core of the prod­uct,” Fis­cher says. Although black is still pop­u­lar, it’s the color of the past. The bikes on the floor boast shades of blue, bur­gundy, green, gray, sil­ver and gold. “Paint is what peo­ple buy,” he em­pha­sizes. Cus­tom-painted bikes are very at­trac­tive and when you have a paint job with graph­ics, cus­tom han­dle­bars, wheels and chrome, you are cre­at­ing your own in­di­vid­ual style, he elab­o­rates.

As for which model is the best­seller, Fis­cher ex­plains that the most pop­u­lar bike in the world is the Street Glide.

Scott Fis­cher has ac­com­plished his goal of mak­ing Six Bends a place the whole com­mu­nity can en­joy.

In the back of the store are racks and shelves chock-full of Har­ley-David­son mer­chan­dise.

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