First in the Community

A Gail Force: Focus on growth, community fuels Harley-Davidson dealership

Gail.

Just Gail. It’s all you need to say – everyone knows Gail by that one name. And if you’re familiar with Harley-Davidson motorcycle dealerships in the Midwest, you’ve no doubt heard about Gail’s Harley-Davidson in Grandview, Mo., just outside of Kansas City.

“It makes me feel so good when I walk into a [Harley-Davidson] dealership anywhere in this country and I mention that I’m from Gail’s Harley-Davidson and they light up,” Gail said.

Feel the Power

No one will ever accuse Gail of being a low-energy person. Never. Gail is packed with zeal for her dealership and for the team she has assembled, which has helped her become one of the country’s leaders in Harley-Davidson sales.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without my team,” Gail said. “Because it’s not me, it’s this team. It’s the whole team. This dealership is full of incredible people that got my back. And they are why Gail’s is amazing. It’s this whole thing. It’s awesome. It really is. It feels so good to be part of it. I’m very blessed.”

The logo for Gail’s Harley-Davidson features a pair of eagle eyes with the slogan “Feel the Power.” And it’s not talking about the power of a 103-cubic-inch twin cam motorcycle engine.

“Now, the Harley-Davidson is very cool, very powerful, but we’re talking about feeling the power in our heart,” Gail said. “Feeling that power that kicks us in the butt every morning and says, ‘Go out there and make a difference.’”

It Didn’t Happen Overnight

The stereotypical idea of a person who rides a Harley-Davidson used to be a burly tattooed guy in a black leather jacket and boots. The image of a sunny, energetic petite woman doesn’t necessarily come to mind. So Gail – whose first motorcycle was a dirt bike – had barriers to jump when she began her ride to success in a traditionally male-dominated business.

Gail started her career selling Harley-Davidsons while filling the role of finance manager at her parents’ dealership. She sold so many Harley-Davidson motorcycles that the corporate office took notice and invited her to give a seminar at the company’s annual convention. They wanted her to teach other finance managers – nearly all men – how to be as successful as she had been.

“At that time, it was the stereotypical biker-looking people, that was who the dealers were,” says Gail.

She walked into the seminar and got the stink eye from those in the room – dealers who were skeptical of a young whippersnapper who also happened to be a woman.

“I had to give this seminar three times,” Gail said. “And every single time I went to a back room and cried. Because I was so intimidated. I got on the plane to come home, and I decided that I would never put myself in that situation again. Meaning, I would never not be prepared for my audience again. I would always be ready.

“And so, I took every class I could possibly find on selling myself and speaking in public. The next time I was faced with something like that I was ready. I think that that experience helped me immensely in life.”

Looking back, Gail views the challenges in her life as rungs on a ladder.

“As long as you step on that rung, and conquer it, and step to the next one, then you’re going to continue to go on up to the stars,” said Gail, who now rides a brand-new ice-pearl white Fat Boy Harley-Davidson.

Growing Into a Harley-Davidson All-Star

Gail bought her parents’ Harley-Davidson dealership, located in Benton, Kan., in 1999. It consisted of two 5,000-square-foot buildings, side by side. By 2004, Gail had outgrown the modest space.

“I had to expand. I had to grow,” she said.

Gail found a 10-acre parcel of land in Grandview, Mo. It was an ideal space to build her new 55,000-square-foot dealership. Next, she began assembling a dream team –  from expanding her staff to hiring an architect, builder and a bank.

“That was all an interview process,” she said. “There were several banks who applied for the team to build Gail’s Harley-Davidson. First National Bank got the job because they had this power in them. This feeling that when they walked through the door and said, ‘I want to be your partner.’ They meant it.

“It wasn’t a corporate saying. It is how they feel inside and out … And it’s a really great relationship. I would not be where I’m at today without them. They’re part of the team.”

The Extended Harley Family and Its Community

From charity rides and fundraising events held at the dealership to donating gifts to local nonprofits, Gail’s Harley-Davidson has made a mark on the local Grandview-Kansas City community.

“I believe that the good Lord puts us on this Earth to do something, to make a difference. And that’s why I believe that we should help our community as much as we possibly can,” says Gail. “I believe everybody should help their community as much as they can. This is my city. This is my home.”

“Anything we can do to help Kansas City grow and be even more spectacular than it already is … That’s what I want to do.”

Things close to Gail’s heart? Animals, first responders and members of the military. Each year, Gail’s Harley-Davidson honors those who lost their lives in the attacks on September 11, 2001.

“It’s a full-day event,” Gail said. “Our parking lot is full of first responders, first responder vehicles, military and military vehicles. We have a helicopter in the sky. It’s an amazing day and it’s a very heartfelt day.”

Still Growing

Now, after building and growing her business in the Kansas City area, Gail is in expansion mode. She recently purchased an existing dealership, Gateway Harley-Davidson, in St. Louis. When it came time to finance her new endeavor, Gail started making calls.

“My first phone call, of course, was to First National Bank and their response was, ‘Absolutely, how can we help?’ And we sat down, put together a business plan and they’re our partners at Gateway Harley Davidson,” Gail said. “And when we open our next dealership there is not a doubt in my mind that First National Bank will be there. Because they’re part of the whole thing. They get it. They understand growth.”

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