Bob Althoff: ‘We will survive and thrive together’

Publish Date: 
Feb 16, 2013

The following is a transcript of Robert Althoff’s acceptance speech after receiving the Don. J. Brown Lifetime Achievement Award during the Top 100 Dealer awards gala on Friday night.

We all agree that it’s something everyone should read. – Editors

I WANT TO THANK Dealernews, the nominating committee, and judges – I am grateful beyond words to receive this honor. So…I’m sitting in an airport a couple of weeks ago with my beautiful wife of almost forty years, Valerie, and she leans over and whispers to me, “I want a lifetime achievement award, too…for putting up with you!”

You dealers know the hours, the nights, the middle of the nights when someone breaks into the shop (as happened in one of our stores last night); the weekends, the holidays we invest in serving our customers and sustaining our businesses. You know we couldn’t do it without the love and support of our families. So, Valerie, this one’s for you and with you!

Some of you know the story of my business card.  It says “Bob Althoff, WLM”, not owner or president or dealer principal. Just WLM.  It stands for World’s Luckiest Man. When I finally got to the point I could put anything I damn well wanted on my business card, I figured I’d start with the truth.  And if I ever needed proof that I am the luckiest man in the world – it would be this very moment.

We are all very lucky, aren’t we?  Lucky to be dealers.  Lucky to serve these people we call customers, then riders, then friends.   Lucky to do work we love; work that makes a difference. We change lives. In small and subtle ways, and in profound ways. And through these fun-loving and big-hearted and extraordinarily generous people we call riders, we change our communities – in small ways and in profound ways.  Sometimes we lead, sometimes we follow; but always, we are the glue of this community that always leaves a mark.

As dealers, all of us are doing incredible work to grow and serve motorcycling under unbelievably difficult circumstances these past five years. Our economy suffered a once-in-a-75-year break.  We sell a discretionary product; it is big ticket, and many times it requires bank financing. As a result, we have seen our revenues down 50 percent, our unit counts down perhaps 60 percent, and we have lost 3,000 of our brother and sister dealers.

If all of American industry had suffered what we have, we would not be here this evening – we would be sitting on our porches with our shotguns defending our refrigerators!

And this is lucky?! Yes, it is!  Because we will persevere and continue our good and important work. (Continued)