West Bend Harley-Davidson
In 1946, Ervin Van Beek, working as a mechanic for his father at Van Beek Motor Co., a Chrysler/Plymouth dealership, signed on as a Harley-Davidson dealer. That first year's allocation was only three motorcycles and the sales and service were combined with the car dealership at the corner of 5th and Hickory in downtown West Bend.
In 1965, Ervin Van Beek dropped the Chrysler/Plymouth Dealership and moved the Harley-Davidson store to 517 North Main St. into the far north end of the West Bend Brewing Company.
In 1967, Ervin needed some help, so he hired 17-year-old Jim Dricken, a high school junior, to work part-time as an apprentice mechanic. By 1969, the British motorcycle line Triumph was added and Jim was working full-time. Bridgestone quit building motorcycles around this time and Triumph died out in the late '70s. The years 1971-1975 brought the Harley-Davidson Snowmobile line to Van Beek Cycle and helped to keep us busy during winter. Besides avid Harley riders, both Ervin Van Beek and Jim Dricken were snowmobile enthusiasts. Van Beek Cycle continued to grow and in time overtook more and more of the Brewery Building.
In March of 1980, Suzuki Motorcycles were added to our line and in August of 1980, Ervin Van Beek retired and sold the company to Jim Dricken, age 30.
Van Beek Cycle continued to grow and in the fall of 1987, the Ski-Doo snowmobile line was added. In the spring of 1988, Louis Lauters, age 17, was hired as an apprentice mechanic. 1989 saw the addition of Sea-Doo personal watercraft, but they were dropped in 1992. 1994 was the last year for the Suzuki line and Ski-Doo was dropped in 1996.
Van Beek Cycle was now exclusively a Harley-Davidson Dealer and had totally filled the north Brewery Building. In spring of 1998, Jim and Sandy Dricken made a huge commitment and purchased an old bowling alley at 2910 W. Washington St. The building was torn apart, expanded and re-modeled to meet Harley's stringent specifications and opened for business the last two days of 1998.
The year 2000 brought a big step by expanding our operations to Hartford with the purchase of a run-down car dealership at 427 W. Sumner St. This building was also torn apart, rebuilt and remodeled to meet Harley's requirements and opened in June of 2000.
The Harley-Davidson businesses continued to grow and by then about 26 people were employed by West Bend Harley-Davidson and Hartford Harley-Davidson. The Buell line was added during 2001. In 2003, following the 100th Anniversary Celebration, a 7000 square foot addition was built at the West Bend store to provide more storage, parts and service area.
Louie Lauters had dreamed of being a Harley Dealer for quite a few years and in August of 2004, Louie and partners John Jordan and Chuck Monroe bought both stores from Jim and Sandy Dricken and became the third keepers of the legacy of Harley-Davidson in West Bend. Unfortunately, Sandy Dricken passed away on June 27, 2005. She will be greatly missed. Sandy Park, located at the West Bend location, is named after her.
In 2007, the Hartford location was closed. In 2012, the West Bend location was remodeled.
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