Living the American Dream
Wellington Motorcycles has been part of two-wheeled life in the capital since 1973. We caught up with owner Garry Gill to see how things are going in their new home at Petone.
When Garry and his business partner, Steve Dundon, set up Wellington Motorcycles in 1973, the motorcycling landscape was rather different to today. And so was the vision for their dealership. Selling new Suzukis, Ducatis and Nortons, business was less formal and more challenging than it is now in 2016. Sources seemed further away, trust and relationships meant business was often done on a handshake. Back then Garry and his team sold many more motorcycles, but to a younger, more cash-strapped customer.
Things were already changing by 1986, when Garry and the team decided to concentrate on the burgeoning cruiser market. Specifically, Harley-Davidson. Higher in value, the H-Ds cushioned the firm from a shrinking mass market.
Over the years, Wellington Motorcycles became synonymous with the Milwaukee brand, building a loyal customer base. Garry has sold machines to families down the generations, providing service and back-up that the dealership prides itself on.
As a Wellington institution, it was a bit of a shock to find the shop moving from its prominent position at 12 Kent Terrace to the appropriately named Gear Street in Petone. But the team has settled in well to their new premises and the move accompanied equally exciting news with their appointment as Victory motorcycle dealers.
For Garry, it signals a new ambition for the company after 43 years in business. "We've created a destination that's all about celebrating American motorcycles, " he says. "Motorcyclists are very much individuals, and each of us has a different view of what we want. We aim to satisfy riders who love the American style of motorcycle and everything it represents."
It's a style Garry himself loves, taking delivery of a new Victory Cross Country before Christmas last year. "It's so comfortable," says Garry. "I wish I had more time off to take on some really long journeys."
With a large number of Harleys also for sale, Wellington Motorcycles certainly has the American cruiser market as its focus. While some view the scene as something different, Garry is adamant that his customers have a whole lot in common with other riders. Since we at Rider Forever are big supporters of rider training, we asked him about attitudes to training and what could be done to encourage take-up.
"Better targeting," was the answer. "That and maybe having more dedicated training for cruiser riders, with the instructors using the same kind of machine." It's something that Rider Forever training providers elsewhere in the country have been doing. And the good news for Garry and other interested parties is that Ross Gratton, a Rider Forever training provider based in Wellington, is now doing the same. You can read more about Ross and other training providers in Meet your Ride Forever training providers.
Garry and his staff have huge experience when it comes to advising on riding gear. Though his customers, being mostly an experienced lot, tend to know their way around.
"They almost always choose quality gear. We sell a huge amount of REV'IT clothing and good quality helmets. Our audience, they have the money and the experience, so they don't just grab the cheapest they can find."
The store has a wide selection to choose from and their advice is free. "Open invitation," says Garry. "If you have any questions about helmets, clothing, gloves, boots, anything just ask. We're happy to help."
From shiny bikes to racks of gear, there's a lot to see at Wellington Motorcycles' new location. Until now there hasn't been an official outlet for Indian or Victory in Wellington. Whatever style of 'bike you ride, they are mightily impressive machines to see 'in the flesh', so a wee ride out to Petone could be in order.
Expect a friendly welcome and sound advice from Garry and his crew. Plus you might spot a special offer on Ride Forever training in-store there, and at TSS Red Baron in Lower Hutt, very shortly.
If you're thinking about getting a cruiser, or some more gear, or you're just curious about cruisers, take a look at our info on cruisers and gear.