Saturday April 16th 2016

Good News - It only took Matt a few minutes last night to fix my email problem, so we got to spend more time going over things on his new Evo 200 - today we will go for a “break in ” ride out at Cherryville.

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I just came across this story about my friend Al Perrett .

Perrett rides into retirement

Perrett rides into retirement

Al Perrett (right) has sold his Kamloops Harley-Davidson business to Brian Barnes and the Barnes family, which has rechristened the outlet as Barnes Harley-Davidson.
Dave Eagles/KTW

Al Perrett is saying goodbye to Harley Davidson after 50 years in the business.

This year marks his last as the owner of the local dealership, which he has sold to the Barnes group.

The family has been in the automotive business for 32 years, since Greg Barnes purchased a General Motors dealership in Camrose, Alta.

They have owned several car dealers in B.C., but were introduced to Harley Davidson when they purchased the Langley shop in 2003 and another in Victoria in 2013.

“It’s a big decision, but the timing is so right,” Perrett said. “I’m a fossil in this business”

At 78, he has taken a backseat at the Iron Mask Road shop over the last decade.

The Kamloops store is the second-largest Harley Davidson dealership in B.C. with $14 million in annual sales.

Perrett said he had some apprehensions about selling, but after numerous conversations with friend and former Victoria Harley Davidson owner Steve Drane, who also sold to the Barnes family, he grew confident it was the right decision.

Perrett said the shop is in good hands with new owner Brian Barnes, whose philosophy and way of doing business he said will elevate the shop.

“Steve and Al, they’re legends in this industry,” Barnes said.

“I’m a firm believer that without the right people in place, you’re really not going to anything and this staff is legendary in the Harley Davidson business.”

Perrett opened his first bike shop in Richmond in 1966. He started selling Harleys in Kamloops in 1977, when Honda bikes comprised most of his inventory. By the mid-1990s, other brands had been phased out of his shop.

“Harley Davidson wasn’t the standout brand it is now,” Perrett said. “I call it a worldwide phenomenon, the Harley craze. It was a craze around the world and, of course, in North America the Harley Davidson stores grew and they became the envy of the motorcycle industry.”

The Kamloops dealership has doubled in size in the last 20 years.

Barnes said there are no plans to build or expand, only to maintain the status quo.

The shop will commemorate Perrett’s 50th year in the business in June, while also saying farewell.

“Once you join the Harley family, you bleed black and orange,” Barnes said.

“So, Al’s not leaving the Harley family.

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I met Al back in the 70’s - racing Cross Country’s  - and although we have not seen much of each other in recent years, I still recall many, many great times, and would like to share one of these.

It was a few years ago, and we were putting on a Trials demo at 100 mile house  at the request of another old buddy Bob Work. - We were set up at the end of  the air strip, and during a break, I heard this fairly loud bike approaching - the rider dressed in shorts, ball cap on backwards, and sun glasses. - Yes it was Al. -” I heard you guys were here he said” - as we exchanged pleasantries - ( I should mention that one thing that always came up when we met was our age as Al is six months younger than myself)

Anyway as we chatted, Al was looking at the stuff we had set up ( Stan & the boys did a fabulous job) and he noticed a Sherco 320 4T, I had parked close by. - Asking about the bike, I jumped at the chance to goad Al into taking it for a ride -” Ok he said, but if I ride that - then you have to take my Harley for a spin” - done deal - now I don’t think Al had ever ridden a modern Trials bike, but he had no problem going around in circles with that usual big grin on his face. -  After he stopped, he said OK now it’s your turn  - “Oh Shoot Al” I said, looking at my watch, we have to get another show going right away ( I was doing the announcing) and all these people are waiting - maybe another time!

The fact is, that although I have ridden a lot of different bikes in my lifetime, I have never had the desire to throw a leg over a Harley - not even Jimmy Corkle could get me on one. - So there you have it, just one short story of two old friends, involved in the Motorcycle business. - I’m sure Al will remember that one. - Enjoy your retirement buddy.

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