Monday, March 19, 2012

Monthly Message for April 2012

Dear Members of the Gateway Ducati Owners Group,
This message is much longer than usual. Please read to the end.
March is here and with it we have exciting weather as well as the beginning of the riding season in the Gateway to the West area.
Before I get into the meat of the message, which will be different than others, I wanted to let you know that the Group Ride will be held on Saturday, April 7, 2012. Meet at 8:30AM for the pre-ride briefing, and leave at 9:00AM. The meeting place has changed! From here on out, we will be departing from the QT station on Route 109, South of Interstate 44. Most of our rides head off by there, so we decided that is where the new starting place should be. Also, we have a bike night on April 3, 2012, 6:30PM at Triumph Grill. This is a Tuesday night.

As I move into the next section, I am going to speak about being an Official Desmo Owners Club (DOC) and how the club’s (and club members’) relationship(s) with our sponsoring dealer (MotoEuropa) should begin its evolution. Some of you reading this will disagree. I hope we can disagree without being disagreeable, and it is the beginning of a discussion among the club members as to our future.
It has been about 15 months since we became an official DOC. During this time, I have read about the challenges other DOCs have faced when dealing with membership, the factory, each other, and their local dealers. What is clear is that the situation is St. Louis is not unique. Some DOCs operated in an area with no local dealer support. Other clubs operate in an area where there is close contact and mutual support. What is clear is that a DOC can thrive only with dealership support. Moreover, the factory now requires that there be a relationship with the local dealer if the club is to be an official DOC. The nature of the relationship is not spelled out.
So what is the best type of relationship between the dealer and the club? That answer is personal. For me the best relationship is when club members telephone, and the phone is answered by the dealership because they are open. It is nice to be recognized as a club member. We treat the dealership and their employees politely and with respect. In turn, the dealership treats us politely. Our motorcycling needs (repairs, tune-ups, questions, etc) are met quickly, competently, and honestly. If our relationship with the dealership includes the willingness to provide speakers at our events, that is great, but not mandatory. It is also nice if the dealership has a nice place to meet and hang out with other Ducatistas. Any other benefits that the dealer chooses to offer the club members should be considered a privilege, not an entitlement, and at the dealership’s discretion.
For the Gateway Ducati Owners Group, the St. Louis area landscape was changed with the opening of MotoEuropa in late 2010. Pete Hall, the GM of the dealership, proactively reached out to our group and helped us obtain official recognition from the factory. This simple action was lacking for years and endeared him to me from the get go. For the first time, we Ducati riders had a dealership that wanted a relationship with the club. They also provide a premium European only motorcycle dealership and destination.
Because of their vision of what a great dealership should be, and lots of hard work, MotoEuropa demonstrated that the St. Louis area has a strong demand for Ducati Motorcycles. They sold 47 in 2011. 2012 looks to be a good year for them. The service department is now at a 2-week backlog. Their parts department has demonstrated to me, more than once, that they understand the needs of Ducatistas, and work hard to insure that they get the parts and accessories we want and need!
Their relations with us, the club, are on balance, very good. As individual riders, occasionally issues arise, which when discussed by mature adults, are worked out.
So, if we can agree that they have been supportive of GDOG as a club, and done a good job for us as individuals, what can we do to enhance our relationship with them? This point is more important than anything else! We have waited for a dealership like MotoEuropa to arrive in the St. Louis area. Now that the type of dealership is here, we must do what is in our control, by our actions and words, to help them stay. As individuals and as a club, the most important thing we can do for MotoEuropa is to help it thrive as a business!
As individual consumers, we are free to choose where we spend our hard earned dollars. I will not tell you how or where to spend your money but I can lead by example, words, actions, and let you know my thoughts. As such, I have chosen to obtain anything motorcycle related from MotoEuropa, provided they are close in price (that does not always mean cheaper), and able to obtain the desired item. By acting in this manner, I support the dealer that supports my efforts. Several times in their short history they have gone above and beyond for me and other club members. That behavior alone inspires my loyalty. On my part and others, we may misstep. I already have. Provided I can minimize my missteps, and continue to act as I have stated I shall, MotoEuropa will continue to be there when I need assistance with my motorcycling needs. They have provided quality service since their doors opened, and I believe they shall in the future. Unfortunately, I am not in the market for a new motorcycle, but when the time comes, they will get the sale.
I warned you that some people would be offended. Just so you know, MotoEuropa is not paying me, nor am I accruing any huge benefit from writing this. In fact, on many occasions, Pete Hall and I have had disagreements. But the bottom line from this note is that the investors in MotoEuropa have taken a huge risk in starting a new type of dealership in the St. Louis area- the type of dealership that prior to their arrival, we in GDOG wanted. They are doing a great job. We finally have the type of motorcycle dealership in the area we wanted, so let us do what is in our power to make certain they stay!
On to the next section:
Our March ride was a destination ride: The ride to eat Pizza. Your route and method of conveyance did not matter, only that you arrived to eat pizza at PW Pizza. Rob McCallum, Raymond So, and I were the three hearty soles that managed to arrive at the restaurant and enjoy the pizza. Vito Sicola telephoned to say he was still having some work done on his machine. So we ate, talked, and decided to go over to MotoEuropa as Ray and I felt our suspensions needed tweaking. Raymond’s was too hard and mine was too soft. So Dan Huff at MotoEuropa assisted both of us and made our suspensions just right. We then headed off towards home via Interstate 64. Around the Boyle exit, Raymond experienced some problems and pulled over. He had run out of fuel. An SOS call went to Dan at MotoEuropa, he showed up with gas, put some in the tank, which solved the problem, and off we went. In my opinion, this is an example of going above and beyond.
Our Bike Night held on the 6th was well attended. Two new members, Jon Short (MTS1200 rider) and Jeremy Kocher (MV Agusta Brutale rider) attended the meeting. Vito Sicola was elected Vice President and Raymond So was elected Ride Captain and Ride Safety person. After that business was concluded we ate dinner and Mark Oldham from MotoEuropa gave an excellent talk on road racing which served as a primer for those who have an interest. The Q&A session lasted a long time. We also had a discussion about club activities including MotoGP in Indy, the ride to Arkansas over Father’s Day Weekend, Ducstock, World Ducati Week, and other ideas for overnight rides, etc.
The Bike Night on March 15 was more sparsely attended, but a good discussion was had regarding group rides, departure locations, and upcoming events.
Gary Kwawer
Chief Contact Person and President
Gateway Ducati Owners Group


  1. Excellent post! I agree that MotoEuropa has been a class act, and a great example of what Ducati a dealership should be.

  2. A fellow officer I work with had a Honda, when he came back from Afghanistan, he sold it. Now he is looking to ride again and ride a Ducati. He looked at another dealership in the area just to see what he liked. I did however point him to Moto Europa because of the relationship between them and the club.

    El Gaupo