Wilkins Harley-Davidson: A Family Experience
Updated July 28th, 2021: This article, written June 13th, 2021, preserves a moment in time. On June 18th, my brother totaled the motorcycle and seriously injured himself. He is, by the grace of God, recovering. This life-changing event has touched the lives of all that know and love my brother with a mix of powerful emotions. May God allow us to all move forward "bigger, better, and stronger." We love you, Dustin.
At The Dealership
Wilkins Harley-Davidson is no stranger to making memories and dreams happen for its customers. The tradition is rooted in the Harley-Davidson brand and the Wilkins lineage. As a nearby resident and second-generation customer, I have long known about Wilkins' reputation, and since 2018 I have had multiple opportunities to interact with the tight-knit Wilkins team.
It's not every day you get to participate in helping a loved one obtain their first Harley-Davidson, and even rarer is it that the experience comes as a surprise to the recipient. However, because of my unique position in this situation, I had the distinct pleasure of helping in a manner that no other could, and I'd like to relay the experience back to Wilkins.
Because of Wilkins' long-standing traditions and business practices, my family has returned to Wilkins time and time again to buy their bikes. On this occasion, my family invited me to help pick out a bike for my brother.
As a part-time employee, I played a combination role in the purchasing experience, acting as customer and employee in various ways on a day off. I can't imagine many dealerships allowing this level of flexibility in the buying experience while still maintaining a high degree of professionalism and customer care.
As is so often the case at Wilkins, nearly every team member helped at some point in the process. Eric and Jon took the reins in processing numbers and evaluated a trade-in while Mike and Alan answered various questions throughout the experience.
While at the dealership, I set up and registered my family for test rides, prepped the motorcycles we were looking at, and most importantly, evaluated fit-and-feel for my brother. He has a similar stature as I, making me an ideal candidate to ensure he would enjoy a bike he'd never touched before.
Once we selected a bike, I bowed out and left my family to the fantastic care of Wilkins to finalize details. After that, we all entered a holding pattern until we could deliver the surprise bike in a manner suiting the occasion.
The Big Reveal
Delivering the bike while keeping my brother unaware was a fun experience, and seeing his face once we lifted the veil was an experience not to miss.
Under the guise of owning the bike herself, my mother let my brother take the bike for a spin. He came back with a grin from ear to ear and still didn't know that the bike he'd just ridden was his to enjoy.
There's a particular pleasure in riding a Harley-Davidson that hits all the right marks, and the correctness of our choice was evident on his face. But, as planned, he only became aware of the surprise upon opening a card that revealed the ruse. We'd kept the secret for days, and now the moment was upon him. He doubled over with a grin, embraced his girlfriend, and held back a slew of strong emotions.
The Photo Session
From there, we treated him and his girlfriend to a professional photo session to mark the occasion. We traveled to the "Whales' Tails" in Randolph, a location that has been a landmark in my family's life for decades, and created some of the most striking images of my photography career.
With the vibrant red of a fantastic machine, matching shirt, the abundance of joy on my brother's face, and the company of family, we completed the celebration and said our goodbyes.
Taking part in this part of my brother's life and having the opportunity to play so many different roles within the process is an honor that I can't fully put into words. I am yet again thankful for Wilkins' role in my life as they continue to support, care, and delight. They are leaders in their field and provide untold degrees of value best experienced first hand.
The experience also wouldn't have been possible without the love of many family members. Hilary, thank you for caring for our children while I took part in this incredible experience. Tasha, thank you for putting that hard-to-come-by smile on my brother's face; a Harley-Davidson is more than its material components, and you tapped into something special by choosing to gift one to my brother. I imagine he will cherish this moment for the rest of his days, and those two wheels will mean more to him than most will ever know.
To my mother, Scott, and the Wilkins team, thank you for helping put this entire experience together. You each played an excellent role that we cannot forget.