Article And Photos By: Milwaukee Mike
Originally Published In The May 2013 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
After leaving the Knuckle Shuffle 2 in June of last year, my friend Justin Kane started telling me about an event that he had been brewing in his head for a year or better. The event was going to be one of the biggest blowouts that Faribault, MN has ever seen. So what was the reason for this bash? It was going to be a celebration for the 35th anniversary of Faribault Harley-Davidson. For those of you who don’t know Justin, his position at FHD is general manager, which includes overseeing all marketing as well as handling special events’ coordination. Because he has a history of playing drums in metal bands, he was able to work his mojo and get a couple of national acts, a true flying PA, and a worthy stage to put it all on for the night’s entertainment. But that was all secondary to the fact that a family owned H-D dealership was having a 35th anniversary and had graciously allowed Cycle Source to play a part as one of the sponsors of the day’s events. Justin had asked if I would be one of the judges for the bike show they would be having and to be there to rep the magazine as well. He told me that he and the guys in the shop can really identify heavily with our publication. I thought that it was an honor for him to include us; of course I happily accepted. So with that, I was off to Minnesota on a chilly winter day.
Before I go any further, let’s look at a little of Faribault H-D’s history. The year was 1977, and FHD was just purchased by a man named Bob Hofmeister. The first location for the dealership was on the south side of town in a humble 2800 square foot building tucked behind some rocks and trees. For those who remember those days, it was all about the riders and it stood to reason that the motto of the dealership was: For Riders, By Riders. Justin reminded me that even to this day, everyone at the shop rides, and the current owner, Ann Hofmeister (Bob’s daughter), puts 10,000+ miles on her 2011 FLHX every year. Because of the hard work that Bob and his partner, Jim Vidmar, have done over the years turning the small shop from its humble beginnings to the Gold Bar and Shield status they have now, they were able to move into the 28,000 square foot facility they now reside in. I think because of its history and the continued presence of its founders, this dealership has more soul than most I have been in. It is one of the few shops I have been to that are actually able to get parts for and service old bikes as well as the new ones; an oddity in this day and age. This is mostly because of FHD’s service techs and their love of old iron.
Everyone at FHD follows Bob’s philosophy of treating each customer as though it was them standing on the other side of that counter. Obviously that way of thinking works because I found dozens of people at the anniversary party that are into their 3rd or 4th bike, and have bought them all from FHD. A great example of this was the bike I picked as my favorite from the show. It was a custom Shovelhead bought by Rock Branderhorst, and thirty years later he purchased a new bagger from FHD that he uses as his daily ride– obvious customer satisfaction. As I mentioned earlier, the FHD crew pulled out all the stops when it came to the 35th anniversary party. Justin got in touch with a couple of old contacts to make all go well and entertain a large throng of people. The morning and early afternoon consisted of a bike show with good examples of both modern and antiques alike. Teach was also on hand to help me with the judging of the show and you can see both of our picks in the sidebars of this article. I told you that Rocky’s Shovel was my choice and Teach picked a gorgeous Panhead/sidecar rig. Check them out and you will see these bikes are definitely worthy of the awards they won. I think the photos of all the bikes involved will show the most diverse group of bikes I have ever seen at a dealership bike show. Well done FHD!
As the day turned into night, the temperature started to plummet but that didn’t stop the amount of people coming out to see the jewel of the evening, a good old fashioned heavy metal rock and roll show featuring LA Guns and Skid Row. For an opening act, Justin pulled one last string and got some friends from the band Annex from Green Bay, WI to open, and they all rocked it! Even though it got downright cold (lows in the lower 20s that night), the smiles on the crowd’s faces mixed with a couple of bonfires kept everything quite comfy. Some personal anti-freeze always adds to the mix and helps out a bit (wink, wink). The night was full of awesome music, great times and even better friends, both old and new. I look forward to the next time we can get together and hang at FHD which may come sooner than later as Justin told me about an event that they have coming up in the near future. It will be something of interest to all the performance junkies out there as it will be an opportunity for FHD to show off the work that their service/performance department does. Dyno drags and burn out contests will be among some of the attractions. With 16 years on the performance side of all things Harley, FHD’s Jason Kellis has built a reputation as being one of the best dyno operators in the Midwest, and keeping on the leading edge of performance is his specialty. From the street to the strip, FHD ‘s performance department has you covered and will help you get the power you want and need. One of their goals is to get performance minded people into the 100/100 club. That is getting customers 100+ horsepower and 100+ ft lbs of torque. With a service department that has over 50 years of combined experience in the H-D servicing industry, they take great pride in their skills and abilities to care for your bike and return it to you with the knowledge that it will be in better condition than when it arrived.
I look forward to what FHD will show us in the future, and God willing, to witness it as well. I think Bob is looking down from Harley heaven and smiling as his little shop behind the rock is doing so well under the direction of his daughter and her extended family at Faribault Harley-Davidson.