Long before the purple dinosaur roamed the airwaves, Barney’s Motorcycle & Marine was already a legendary dealership. However the story is just getting started as KC Wood and Todd Hempstead are selling all three Florida stores to another larger than life dealer, Dave Veracka, in a deal brokered by George Chaconas and Courtney Bernhard from Performance Brokerage Services.
The story actually began in Bloomington, Illinois, with Harry “Barney” Barclay and his bride, Rosalee, a young couple in love. After World War II, with a shared passion for motorcycle riding and a $500 loan, Barney and Rosalee opened their first Indian dealership in Bloomington. Eager to share their love of riding with the community, the couple became very active in local riding groups, bike shows and racing. After realizing that their business had limited riding seasons in Illinois, the couple decided to move the dealership outside of Miami, where the business grew beyond their wildest dreams. In 1951, the dealership was relocated again to St. Petersburg, Florida, where the original building still stands, alongside a larger, well-recognized facility for motorists traveling to the beaches of the Gulf Coast.
KC Wood, grandson of the Barclay’s, spent several decades working in the business with his uncle, Ray Hempstead. In 2004, Todd Hempstead — who had worked at Barneys as a teenager — decided to leave the software game and join his dad Ray and cousin, KC spent his time in St. Petersburg while Todd managed the Brandon facility and Ray oversaw the Brooksville location. Ray eventually retired and KC stepped into the role of President while Todd became VP. The dealership overcame many hurdles in its time including the gas crisis of the 1980’s, recession, and even a fire at their St. Petersburg location. KC and Todd each brought their own individual strengths and would grow the dealership leaps and bounds offering on-road, off-road, and marine to suit the customers visiting any of their locations.
“After 76 years and three generations of owning Barney’s Motorcycle & Marine, our family made the difficult decision to sell our three dealerships,” said Wood after the sale. “When George Chaconas and Courtney Bernhard first reached out to us, we had not yet made the decision to retire. They provided valuable information as to what the sales process would entail, and before we knew it, they brought us an offer from a well-respected company in the industry. Being a large, multi-location dealer, our deal was quite complex. With George and Courtney’s help, and with the resources they recommended, we successfully navigated the many twists and turns and made it to the finish line. Todd Hempstead and I would like to personally thank the team at PBS for their professionalism, industry experience, frequent communication, and persistence.”
This is not Dave Veracka’s first dealership. Veracka turned his passion for motorcycles into a career that began more than 50 years ago, when he opened his family’s first Kawasaki dealership in Brockton, Massachusetts. In 2003, along with his partner, Veracka added his first Harley-Davidson dealership to the family. Over the years, Veracka and his sons, Paul and Michael, would continue their steady growth in the industry. In 2019, they made the decision to split the company into two groups; his sons took over the Harley-Davidson dealerships and Veracka established The Motorcycle Company, a new dealership consulting group.
While Paul and Michael continue to be very competitive in growing their footprints on the east and west coasts, they may just have a new competitor in town. Dave has come out of dealer retirement and is well on his way to building a powerhouse group of on-road, off-road and watercraft dealerships. The Barney’s dealerships will remain at their current locations, but have been renamed the following:
Rockstar Powersports of Brandon at 9820 East Adamo Drive in Brandon, Florida
Rockstar Powersports of St Petersburg at 10411 Gandy Boulevard North in St Petersburg, Florida
Rockstar Powersports of Brooksville at 14430 Cortez Boulevard in Brooksville, Florida