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Case Study: Mathew's Harley-Davidson

Mathews Harley-Davidson, Fresno, Calif.

The Problem

Mathew's Harley-Davidson had been a family-owned dealership in the same downtown Fresno location for 57 years, but recently the parent company, Harley-Davidson Motor Company, informed the owners it was not likely to renew their dealership if it was not moved to a more “affluent” part of the city. Harley-Davidson told the dealership it no longer fit its desired profile.

The owners generated plans to renovate their dealership for expanded sales and service, and to add a museum to showcase motorcycles, which required approval from Harley-Davidson Motor Company. But there were clear signals from the parent company that unless the dealership was moved, approval for the new facilities and lease would not happen. Not only would that put the family-owned dealership out of business, it would also put its employees out of work.

The Plan

Mathew's Harley-Davidson tabbed Carter and Co. Communications to educate Harley-Davidson Motor Company on the value of the original location and surrounding area. This would be a grassroots movement involving a downtown community on the upswing who were tired of being seen as undesirable.

Research showed Harley-Davidson Motor Company to be sensitive and cognizant of public opinion and perception. With this knowledge, Carter and Co. Communications mounted a campaign of media coverage as well as public and political influence to keep the dealership downtown and gain approval for renovations. Social media was also a major part of the plan, allowing supporters, other business owners, customers and civic and city leaders to voice their opinions directly to the parent company. It was grassroots outreach at its finest.

Carter and Co. Communications also urged the City of Fresno to send updated traffic and commercial numbers to Harley-Davidson Motor Company to replace their outdated, inaccurate data.

The Result

Knowing Harley-Davidson Motor Company’s extreme unwillingness to be presented in a negative light, locally or nationally, Carter and Co. Communications' plan was to generate attention to issue. National television, radio, newspapers and online coverage picked up the story about what it would mean to the community to lose such an established business. Harley-Davidson Motor Company acknowledged it was overwhelmed by the public support for Mathew's Harley-Davidson and renewed the downtown lease and approved the renovations.


Mathew's Harley-Davidson

Mathew's Website


Public Relations


Media Relations, Grassroots

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