BUFFALO, NY - John Brinkworth Jr. MBA ‘96 says he has the coolest job in the world. As vice president and owner of Buffalo Harley Davidson in Orchard Park, he heads one of 600 dealers in the country that market the legendary motorcycle brand and the mystique that surrounds it.
“We are not just selling motorcycles – it’s a lifestyle and a culture,” Brinkworth explains. “A Harley Davidson is therapy, a release from the every day, where the rider can let his or her alter ego loose.”
In addition to bikes, the Buffalo dealership offers sales, service and storage for motorcycles, as well as a full line of Harley Davidson clothing and accessories.
Buffalo Harley Davidson has come a long way since Brinkworth’s parents bought it in 1979. The eighth oldest Harley dealership in the country, the business was a small shop in Buffalo when Brinkworth’s father, John Sr., went to work there after being laid off at Bethlehem Steel.
“My parents were bikers before it was cool and my father knew everything about fixing motorcycles,” Brinkworth says.
While Brinkworth worked at the shop growing up, he earned an accounting degree from SUNY Geneseo and took a job with a company in Pennsylvania. He returned to Buffalo to work for a local truck company when Harley Davidson corporate began to go full throttle for market share.
By the 1990s, the corporation became more involved with its dealerships, launching a strong marketing effort and increasing motorcycle sales tenfold. Brinkworth’s father asked him if he would like to join the family business but suggested he get an MBA first.
“He knew I would need that added education to keep up with the new corporate culture at Harley Davidson,” Brinkworth says. “I have the work ethic I learned from my dad – he still comes in every day at 77 years old and is nationally known as a top restorer of Harley Davidsons. The MBA from Canisius helps me think critically about all aspects of the business.”
Today, Brinkworth is married with three children. He recently rode 3,500 miles across the country with his son, Jack, to attend the annual Harley Davidson meeting in Los Angeles, CA, where they met with Matthew Levatich, president and CEO of Harley-Davidson Inc.