IHS to Honor 70 Years of Indianapolis Southside Harley-Davidson with New Exhibition

George and Ann Schulteti enjoy a fine day for a Harley ride. (Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Southside Harley-Davidson)

The Indiana Historical Society’s (IHS’s) newest exhibition gives guests a chance to celebrate history – and Harleys. The exhibition, “The Harley Shop: Seventy Years of Indianapolis Southside Harley-Davidson,” runs July 22 – Sept. 9 at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center in downtown Indianapolis. An IHS release has more:

The Harley Shop features artifacts, collectables, photographs and vintage motorcycles as it showcases this iconic American treasure through the lens of a Hoosier family who has been in the business for almost a century.

When George Schulteti began working for Harley-Davidson Motor Company in 1922, his first job was to sweep the floors of the factory’s service department. Later, he worked in research and development. Schulteti was also one of the company’s test riders. During World War II, he took inventory of all the Harley-Davidson motorcycles in military service and rode more than 50,000 miles per year.

While Schulteti enjoyed his work at the factory, he wanted to become a dealer. Schulteti and a partner bought the Indianapolis dealership in 1947, and he and his wife, Ann, moved from Wisconsin. She was the office manager and worked the parts counter. The couple lived above the dealership at 701 S. Meridian St. Ten years later, Schulteti bought his partner’s share of the business. The family welcomed customers to that location for the next 51 years.

By the time the dealership moved in 1998 to its current location, 4930 Southport Crossing Place, the number of employees had risen from 17 to 32. Future plans include raising a fifth generation of the Schulteti family to carry on the tradition.

“I get great pleasure sharing each day with family and watching them grow and carry on a family tradition,” says Bob Schulteti, George Schulteti’s son and second generation owner of Indianapolis Southside Harley-Davidson. “We feel honored to be recognized by the Indiana Historical Society and given the opportunity to display some of our family history.”

Guests can visit The Harley Shop during the History Center’s regular operating hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Admission includes parking, which is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Harley Shop is presented by Indianapolis Southside Harley-Davidson. For more information about the dealership, visit www.southsideharley.com.

For more information about the exhibition or other IHS offerings, call 232-1882 or visit www.indianahistory.org.

Throwback Thursday: Saluting the Manufacturing Mainstays

I ran across an interesting IndustryWeek list recently. Titled "Around for the Long Haul," it included prominent manufacturing firms founded 100 years ago or more. Bet you didn't know these companies have been around this long.

You will find a few Indiana connections, past and present. The partial list:

  • 1665: Saint-Gobain
  • 1760: Lorillard
  • 1802: DuPont & Co.
  • 1806: Colgate-Palmolive
  • 1837: Procter & Gamble
  • 1866: Sherwin-Williams
  • 1872: Kimberly-Clark
  • 1876: Eli Lilly & Co.
  • 1886: Johnson & Johnson
  • 1883: PPG Industries
  • 1894: The Hershey Co.
  • 1898:Goodyear Tire & Rubber
  • 1902: 3M
  • 1903: Harley-Davidson
  • 1903: Ford Motor Co.
  • 1905: Ingersoll-Rand
  • 1906: Xerox
  • 1911: IBM
  • 1911: Whirlpool

Oldest Indiana Harley Dealer Approaches Milestone

Southside Harley-Davidson in Indianapolis will celebrate its 65th year next October. Through the decades, the company has seen many customers, two locations and four generations of employees from the same family.

The history:

Though George Schulteti first took ownership in 1947, he became part of the Harley-Davidson family in 1922 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. At the time, he owned a Harley-Davidson bicycle, and when he couldn’t find a replacement part at a local bike shop, he went straight to the nearby factory. The plant’s guard explained to him that he would have to go to a dealership, and Schulteti explained to him that was unacceptable. Founder William A. Davidson heard the lively discussion from a nearby office and not only provided Schulteti with the part, but also a promise that if he wanted a job there, he could have it. Two days later, the 16-year-old Schulteti took him up on the offer.

In 1947, Schulteti joined forces with Max Colville, an Illinois dealer, and the two bought John Morgan Harley-Davidson in Indianapolis. For more on the company’s fascinating history, read it here.


Sherry Long, advertising and marketing director (and fourth generation family employee), explains the company will hold a special event next October to commemorate the anniversary, although they have no specifics yet.

She says the company was located downtown on Meridian Street for 50 years, but moved to the current location (4930 Southport Crossing Place) in 1998 to gain more space.

When asked how the business has changed over the years, Long explains that in the early years, riders rode year-round.

"They used the bike as transportation, not as much for recreation like most riders do today," she says. "However, now there are many more riders. For a lot of years people who rode motorcycles got a bad rap… but over the last 20-plus years the image of motorcyclists has changed a lot and has become much more socially acceptable. Riders are a much more diverse group of people from all walks of life."

She contends some people might be surprised by the environment of the motorcycle shop.

"Some think of a shop as a dirty, greasy place," Long explains. "But we’re a full-service retail shop with general merchandise, collectibles, clothing, apparel, parts and accessories as well as service. We have a wide variety of items for men, women, kids, pets and the bikes."

Long adds that there are more women Harley-Davidson riders now, and about 13% of Southside’s buyers are women (a number she believes is comparable to the national average). She says it seems women riders are jumping onboard and feeling the thrill of riding their own bikes at a faster rate more than ever before.

"We’re also getting more 20 to 30 somethings interested now — more than just the 40-50-year-olds," Long adds. "That’s something Harley-Davidson has been focusing on. Getting younger people to understand there are many options available to add their own individual style to the bikes."

If you’re a Hoosier motorcycle enthusiast or looking for a fun new adventure, visit Southside Harley-Davidson online to see what it has to offer. You can also follow the company on Facebook and Twitter.

How to Not Go Out of Business

BusinessWeek offers thoughts on how to turn around a struggling business by studying your customers and paying close attention to your brand:

As you study your customers, look for things that aren’t working for them. The better you understand the pain points within and around your industry, the better you can enhance your brand’s relevance. Run-flat tires reduce the inconvenience (and danger) people feel when they run over a nail. Satellite radio eliminates the annoyance of static on lonely interstate highways. The Egg McMuffin lessens the hassle of eating in the car. Even minor enhancements can have a major impact on customer satisfaction, from a curved shower rod (who would have thought you could keep that clingy curtain at bay) to a Web form that remembers personal data (key in my address? again?) to a simple apple slicer (great for you and me, even if it’s not so good for Band-Aid).

Once you have a solid list of pain points, brainstorm about how you might relieve them. This is where understanding the changing lifestyles of your target is vital, as it gives you a sense of what they’ll be wanting/needing/expecting down the road. Some new ideas may require a costly and significant overhaul of the way you do business, while others will only require a simple process change, ordering option, or service enhancement. Over time you’ll probably implement a variety of ideas encompassing all of the above.

Need a head start? Try imagining solutions from the perspective of well-known, well-respected brands. For each pain point, ask: "How would Nordstrom (JWN) overcome this problem if they were in our business?" "How would Southwest Airlines (LUV) approach this challenge?" "What would the Marines Corps do about this issue?" Nike (NKE), Ritz-Carlton, Harley-Davidson (HOG), the Mayo Clinic—you can drop any number of companies into this equation that will cause you to consider different ways of relieving the pain. Many of your ideas won’t be practical (and some may not even be possible), but the exercise will open your mind to creative solutions.

Regardless of how you go about innovating, make sure you’re continually pursuing the next thing, because a company’s commitment to staying relevant must never cease. As you consistently address your customers’ evolving expectations and overcome the things that frustrate them, improvements that by themselves may only be measured in inches will move your company miles from where it is today. That’s where your customers will be. As long as you’re there to meet them, they’re likely to stick around.