There are few iconic American-made brands with the passionate and devoted following around the world that compare to the two-wheeled classic, known affectionately as The Hog. Harley-Davidson has been making motorcycles in the United States since its founding in 1903 by William Harley and the Davidson brothers, Arthur and Walter, in a shed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Though parts for the motorcycles are manufactured all over the world today, most of the motorcycles are still assembled here in the United States. One of those plants is in York, Pennsylvania, only hours up the Interstate from motorcycle shops in Greensboro, NC, and a very active Harley Owners Group, the Triad H.O.G. Chapter. |
As you might have caught on by now, the term Hog for a Harley is actually both an acronym for the Harley Owners Group as well as reference to some of the larger models, also known as Big Twins. With over 1,400 H.O.G. chapters around the world and nearly a million members, it’s quite obvious that this American icon has a widespread following. These clubs don’t simply serve to promote the product, but more importantly, to promote the free-wheeling lifestyle of motorcycle riding. The company started creating these clubs back in 1983, not only as a way to bring the consumer together with the company and its employees, but also to create an aura of authenticity and pride in being American-made.
This all came about at a time in the early 1980s when the company was facing stiff competition from the Japanese. It was also during this time that American Machine and Foundry, which had bought the company in 1969, sold the company to a group of investors, which included Willie G. Davidson, the grandson of Harley-Davidson co-founder William Davidson. The decision was made by the new investors that the company would not try to match Japanese pricing, but rather they would exploit the retro appeal of their motorcycles, by giving them the look and feel of their earlier bikes and reflect the customizations of owners of an earlier era.
The strategy to do this, coupled with the advent of the Harley Owners Group, did the trick. In building long-lasting relationships with its customers, Harley-Davidson, through its H.O.G.’s, managed to turn around dwindling sales and allowed the company to grow again. Every Harley-Davidson dealership has the opportunity to sponsor a local H.O.G. chapter, but no chapters can exist without a sponsoring dealership. These chapters, in turn, are supported by a staff of Harley-Davidson employees based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and this support certainly seems to have paid off for the company. Harley Owners Group members will spend, on average, 30% more for company-branded clothing and company-sponsored events than typical Harley owners.
Though the official charity of H.O.G.’s in the United States is the Muscular Dystrophy Association, chapters are encouraged to support other charities as well, though it’s not a requirement. In Greensboro, much of what the Triad H.O.G. chapter is about is expressed in their spirit of giving. The chapter hosts and participates in rides and events throughout the year that support local charities, including Brenner Children’s Hospital, The Humane Society of the Central Piedmont, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Walk, The Polar Plunge to benefit Special Olympics NC, and many more. With so many motorcycle shops in Greensboro, NC, and new riders finding the joy of riding a Harley, the chapter is always open to new members and invites them to their monthly meetings and to participate in their rides and events.
Their membership is a reasonable $20 per year, per person, which seems to be a small price to pay to be a part of a global family of riders who share a common passion for the open road.
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