MILWAUKEE -- Flat tires, spare parts, lost keys -- Harley-Davidson can help with that. During each anniversary celebration, the company offers their "Premier Service Team" to rescue stranded bikers. It's a free service, and one lucky (or maybe unlucky) visitor from Indiana got to see just how valuable it is.
Just into town from Indianapolis, James Passwater's new bike hit a bump in the road on Thursday, Aug. 30, when a nail became lodged in his tire. Luckily, help was just a phone call away.
"The back end started getting a little squirrely. We knew something was wrong," said Passwater.
A basement conference room at Harley-Davidson's headquarters was transformed for the weekend into a call center. Workers were recruited from other departments to man the phones as part of H-D's "Premier Service Team" from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. daily through Sunday, Sept. 2.
"We're taking a few hundred calls a day," said Marc Schulz, manager, service department.
"If a customer has a situation, gets a flat tire, run out of gas, they call us," said Lori Oelhafen.
Oelhafen has overseen the team since the company's 95th anniversary -- a free service for customers, promoted at dealerships and on social media.
"We will get them to a local Harley-Davidson dealership and we will take care of the customer from there," said Oelhafen.
From answering questions about where to get an oil change, to missing keys, they even monitor service trucks with GPS to ensure all calls are handled promptly. After all, what fun is having a Harley during the 115th anniversary celebration if you can't ride it?
"People dropping their keys down the sewer. We've had that," said Oelhafen.
"We want everyone to have a good time, so we are here to try and smooth out any wrinkles that they might have," said Schulz.
All H-D "Premier Service Team" members get a commemorative poker chip that has the team's name on it and 115 on both sides. You can only get it if the team helps you out.