Grand Opening For Budelier’s Handsome New Los Angeles Store

From the January 1922 issue of Motorcyclist

Los Angeles, Dec. 31-Rich Budelier’s grand opening of the new Harley-Davidson sales and service building at Main and Adams closed tonight after a successful run of three days and five nights. If you get what we mean. Those two extra nights were pre-views-as they say in the movies-for specially invited guests After the preferred folks had been received and feted the “common peepul” had their chance to browse through the corridors of the new temple des automoto.

There’s a photographer in this town who has a trite little line, thus: “A good picture is worth a thousand words.” There’s a lot of truth in it, too, when Stagg is at the shutter. These are Stagg’s pictures, and, in lieu of several thousand words of description, we’ll let the pictures tell the story of what a royally nice place Rich Budelier has. It’s been a long lime coming, and there has been tea-cup gossip that it wasn’t going to be, but here it is-in the flesh.

It’s a tip-top establishment from front door to rear wall and there’s no doubt whatever but that it outranks every other motorcycle store in California in modernness, attractiveness and completeness. It’s a real credit to Los Angeles, and it is going to add much-needed prestige to the tone of the business locally. Also, even his worst enemy must admit that Rich is entitled to 100% credit for going through with such an ambitious lay-out in these times of business depression. One does’nt find many dealers doing it in the motorcycle trade, so that Rich’s nerve and confidence in staking everything in this big plant is deserving of the highest commendation.

Two thousand invitations were sent out to registered riders and friends, and, despite an exceptionally rainy week, the total attendance at the formal three-day opening was 1500 people. That shows motorcycle interest. Rich says that the total expense of the opening was $800, which probably is a Coast record for a function of this kind. But it’s a grand and glorious feeling to find, when it is all over, that it was worth it and, Rich says it was.

There were a lot who couldn’t come, who wired or wrote their congratulations and wishes for success. Some said it with flowers, quite elaborately, such as the Harley-Davidson Motor Co., Firestone, Kay Bee, Harley-Davidson dealers and personal friends. Have a look at the flowers in the pictures and judge for yourself how effusively they expressed the sentiments of the donors.

The week’s program began on Tuesday night when the Los Angeles M.C. members were special guests, following the club meeting. Upon adjournment, they proceeded to the new building, where Rich and his staff were waiting to receive them. Incidentally, these invitations brought the largest attendance to a club meeting in several months.

On arrival, the club-members were cordially welcomed and, in words of brotherly love, were invited to make themselves at home then and thereafter. Shortly, refreshments were served, a long table being installed in the salesroom. Following the repast, during which informal conversation and unanimous complements to the big boss, flowed freely, calendars and other souvenirs were distributed.

Then followed an inspection of the entire establishment, members of the organization acting as guides.

On the following night, Wednesday, Harley-Davidson dealers of Southern California, their service men, members of the racing team and the ladies, were guests at a banquet, 42 persons attending. This was indeed a family gathering, nearly everyone present being directly affiliated in some capacity with the Harley-Davidson banner.

Following the “small blacks”, chairs were pushed back and Verne Guthrie, assuming the role of toastmaster, announced that there would be some oratory of an informal nature. Sort of get-together talk for the good of the order.

We have been to quite a few Harley-Davidson dealer meetings, but this one was different. The dealers did not seem to be afraid to talk and to talk on logical points. Thoughts flowed freely and they were sound and constructive.

Wm. Miller, of San Diego, expressed the belief that a business should be judged by its sales volume and that the profits must come from sales instead of from the shop.

T.J. Neal, of Santa Ana, dwelt on the value to the dealer of selling a popular line with an established and lasting demand.

“Hap” Scherer told the dealers that they didn’t fully appreciate how fortunate they were in being located in a land of sunshine and flowers where they could sell machines all the year, and compared the climatic advantages in California with the handicaps the Eastern and Middle Western dealers have to contend with.

Claude Salmon, of Fresno, who dates his Harley-Davidson connection back to 1908, emphasized the value to the dealer of factory co-operation and urged the dealers to reciprocate among themselves and with the factory.

H.D. Wilson, Salmon’s partner, who was overseas, related incidents of Harley-Davidson performance for the A.E.F.

Everett Bresee, of Fresno, who succeeded to the business of his late lamented brother, Ben, one of the veteran dealers of the organization, declared his firm belief in the future of the motorcycle and urged the dealers to prepare for the big business to come.

James Slaybaugh, Santa Barbara, pointed out what a big asset a fine store was to a dealer, to the business in his town and to the line he handled. He declared that it improved the morale and appearance of today’s riders and helped draw new ones of a better class. He told the dealers how they are overlooking considerable outside business by not going after it, and urged them lo work closer together.

Ray Weishaar expressed the appreciation of the racing team for the loyal support the Harley-Davidson dealers had given them in cities where they went to race. He urged them to absorb the factory spirit of teamwork and pull together for the good of the organization.

Ralph Hepburn saw his turn coming about this time and put in a long-distance call, hoping that he would be passed by. But Guthrie waited for him and he had to come through. Hepburn said one of the things which impressed him royally was the “nothing-too-good-for-the-team” spirit of the dealers whether the boys won or lost.

Fred Ludlow, the newlywed, who was introduced with his bride, told of his experiences in Canada where he won the Canadian championships last summer. He held up the title cup and Toastmaster Guthrie presented him as the international champion of 1921.

Peter Murphy of Long Beach said that he heard so much about Rich’s plans for a new building that it inspired him to do likewise, and he was about ready to build. He hoped the rest of the dealers would be able to put up their own establishments from the profits of their business

S.P. Hunsaker, of Pomona, probably the oldest Harley-Davidson dealer in the state, said he entered the business in 1905; not with the Harley-Davidson, of course, as it was not on the market then. Hunsaker made a mighty good speech. He affirmed that the old days of easy sales are gone for good and that, from now on, the dealer will have to fight for business.

The Budelier place, he declared, was a monument to its founder and to the motorcycle business. The future of the motorcycle is before it, he said. The days of economy are here and the automobile business is pretty close to its saturation point because too many owners cannot afford to keep up their cars. This means, he said, that many people in ordinary circumstances are going to take up the motorcycle because it will be the only vehicle they can afford.

Jim Davis said he was glad to be there and glad to be on the racing team because both the factory and the dealers left nothing undone to help the boys win.

The spirit of loyalty of the Harley-Davidson organization was Otto Walker’s topic. Otto got this spirit when he first went to Milwaukee in 1915, after winning the Venice road race. There he discovered that the Harley-Davidson executives had instilled in their employees, an esprit de corps whereby they worked with them instead of for them. That loyalty, he said, was responsible for Harley-Davidson success and for his never wanting to change.

Good old Frank Rodger, formerly in charge or the factory export department and, Washington representative during the war, told of his first trip to California in 1915 and his instant realization of the wonderful opportunities for the dealer. These are greater than ever, today, he said. Co-operation, he declared, was the secret of the company’s success and is just as essential today for the dealer.

One or the interesting facts brought out was the strong sentiment expressed by several of the dealers, in favor of a continuance of racing and their belief in its value as a sales stimulant.

Verne Guthrie delivered an excellent talk on dealer co-operation, the value of friendliness toward competitors and the necessity for ever aiding in any cause for the general good of the business. “The more boosters the business has, the more business we will have,” he concluded.

The host, Rich Budelier, closed the speaking with a magnetic talk on the secrets of his success and the policies that have carried him forward from a raw beginner to the leading agency in California. He outlined his ideas on cooperation and urged the dealers to team with each other for their mutual benefit.

For his closing remarks, he sprung a surprise, in the form or a poem dedicated to Verne Guthrie and his work in behalf of the dealers. It was an inspiring testimonial which was warmly received and applauded.

Those present were: Rich Budelier and Mrs. Budelier; Verne Guthrie and Mrs. Guthrie; from the Los Angeles agency staff-H.V. Smith and Mrs. Smith, Miss Nella White, Duane Budelier and Mrs. Budelier, H.R. Warr and Mrs. Warrr, James Goddard and H.C. Scherer; Frank B. Rodger, L.A.; Wm. Miller, San Diego; E.C. Hinman, San Pedro; P.A. Murphy, J.F. Kern, Long Beach; C.W. Macy, W.A. Graves, F. Williamson, Pasadena; Claude Salmon, H.D. Wilson, Everett Bresee, Wm. Bemis, Fresno; James Slaybaugh and Mrs. Slaybaugh, Santa Barbara; Chas Duncan, Riverside; S.P. Hunsaker, A.B. Chambers, Pomona; T.J. Neal and Mrs. Neal, Santa Ana; Otto Walker and Mrs. Walker; Fred Ludlow and Mrs. Ludlow; Jim Davis and Mrs. Davis; Ray Weishaar, Ralph Hepburn and J.J. O’Connor.

At the formal opening on Thursday, despite wet weather, over 400 people visited the store. The attendance increased on Friday and the record crowd came on Saturday, open house being held every evening, also. To heighten daily interest, accessory prize drawings were held. Numbered coupons were given all visitors and in the evening drawings were held from the day’s deposits. The awards each day in order of value were, a pair of Firestone tires, two Kay Bee spotlights and a gallon of Valvoline.

The major event of the week was the drawing on Saturday evening for the 61-inch electric model, finished in peacock blue. Coupons on this also were given all visitors during the opening. When the drawing commenced, the salesroom was completely jammed, over 400 people being present, despite the manifold New Year’s eve distractions throughout the city.

Ray Weishaar picked the numbers and the fortunate holder of the winning ticket was Mrs. E. Hayward, of Watts. Both the winner and Pal Husband were former motorcyclist, but recently have not been possessed of a machine, so that their windfall is most welcome at this time, particularly, as they are daily trolley commuters to their business in the city

Among those present at the special invitational preview and banquet to the Southern California Harley-Davidson dealers
A view of the shop. Considerable additional machinery yet to be installed will enable complete rebuilding service to be rendered
Exterior view of the new building showing impressive front and service entrances at the rear
This is the service entrance and receiving room. Rebuilt used machine department in the middle background
North corner of the Budelier salesroom. The racing motor display was a special opening week feature
The new Budelier salesroom looking south. What dealer wouldn’t be proud of a store like this