BRISTOL, CT – The new owners of Yankee Harley-Davidson have been identified. A partnership of three men – two businessmen from Avon, CT and a longtime Harley-Davidson dealer manager in Connecticut – have purchased the store on Route 6 under the name of Iron Horse Road Group of CT. The deal closed Friday, ending a nine-month journey to acquire Yankee Harley-Davidson from Aaron Patrick.
“I was here at six o’clock this morning because that’s what I do,” said Mike Keehan on Saturday morning. Keehan is one of the three owners and will serve as general manager. He is a former general manager of Gengras Harley-Davidson in East Hartford and has spent the last 7½ years as operations manager of Brothers Harley-Davidson in Branford.
The other two owners are Jeff Sard and Robert Serio. Sard is CEO and president of Sard Corporation, a custom home builder, while Serio owns the high-end audio and video company Perfect Vision and Sound. The purchase price was not disclosed.
Keehan started the day on Saturday by briefing employees on new ownership’s plans. “You’ve got to do what’s right for the customer,” he said later, explaining that he wants “to put processes and procedures in place to satisfy the customer.”
Yankee Harley-Davidson’s customers first learned of the ownership change late Friday afternoon in an email blast and a Facebook post. Keehan said the deal has been in the works since March, but was slowed by governmental red tape.
Keehan said he purchased the dealership because of “the opportunity. I’ve already turned three stores around in the last 15 years. This will be the fourth.” His goal is to improve the store’s reputation, a task he described as “a hurdle. I have to change it.”
Patrick bought Yankee Harley-Davidson in 2009 and continues to own Harley-Davidson of Southhampton in Southhampton, MA.
As snowflakes began to fall Saturday morning, Keehan was involved in helping sort out takeover bugs. The voicemail, for instance, was still answering with a message from the previous day that the store was closed. “We’ve got to go through a few bumps here at the beginning,” he said.
That includes getting the computer system up to speed. “Harley kind of zeros you out and you start as a new store,” Keehan said, later adding that any store credits that customers may have from the previous owner will carry over.
Yankee Harley-Davidson doesn’t own the building or property at 488 Farmington Ave. It has signed a five-year lease with the landlord. “We’ve got some ideas for outside and inside,” said Keehan, who hasn’t had time yet to reflect on the purchase. “It really hasn’t hit me yet,” he said. “It just hasn’t. I’m sure it will at some point.”
Reports of a sale of the dealership circulated back in the spring, but a visit to the store at the time only revealed a management shakeup with a new general manager and sales manager being installed. The story on the management shakeup at Yankee Harley-Davidson in March is here.