Hampton Roads Harley-Davidson
Dealership revs up 45th year selling the Harley lifestyle
By Melissa James, York County Contributor
Harley-Davidson isn’t just your run-of-the-mill motorcycle company—it’s a lifestyle. One that the company and its 550+ US-based dealerships work hard to build and cultivate.
A big part of the Harley-Davidson mission is to deliver adventure and freedom for the soul to every single customer. The brand’s real magic is that by joining the ranks of Harley owners, it actually lets you be an individual. Buying a Harley helps you define who you want to be and how you want others to see you.
For a remarkable 45 years, Hampton Roads Harley-Davidson has been an icon for motorcycle enthusiasts on the Virginia Peninsula. The dealership is also celebrating its silver anniversary in York County, where it moved 25 years ago to a large facility on Route 17.
“Its enduring legacy continues to shine as a beacon for local enthusiasts and tourists alike,” said Kristi Olsen-Hayes, York County’s director of economic & tourism development. “This business not only revs up our local economy, but also draws visitors from far and wide—making it a true regional hub for all things Harley-Davidson.”
Hampton Roads Harley-Davidson began in 1978, when newlyweds Chuck Cox and Mary Hughes purchased an existing dealership in Hampton. They then moved the business to Newport News and rebranded it with the Hampton Roads moniker. The pair had met while Chuck was working as a service manager at a local Yamaha dealership, and they and were looking for a way to turn their shared love of bikes into a viable business opportunity.
They had a passion for the Harley-Davidson lifestyle and brand and the tagline’s promise of finding personal freedom really spoke to them. They dedicated many years to building the dealership in Hampton Roads and creating a presence here for local riders. After 20 years, they had built such a big following that they needed more space, so they moved to the current location in York County.
But what sets this dealership apart isn't its long-standing presence, but its unwavering commitment to creating culture, connections and community.
During the pandemic, like many other dealerships in the US, the in-store sales were flat, because customers had become so used to buying things online. But motorcycles are a visceral product that you really need to touch and feel. To reenergize and bring customers back into the store, the leadership team decided they needed to reconnect with the community and local riders. This plan meant creating a welcoming environment for staff and customers, as a place they would simply love to be.
The process began by asking the 30+ staff members—many of whom have been with the dealership for decades—for their input on how the dealership could improve. The overwhelming answer was that they loved knowing they were helping others to live their dream, find their true selves and connect with others like them.
Armed with this knowledge, the team decided to be intentional about improving staff and customer experiences and building connections.
They decided to offer events that weren’t just for riders, but for the community as a whole. The location hosted a 16-part concert series that was free to attend, and donated all proceeds from the food and beverage sales to the local Boys & Girls Club.
In addition to the concerts, the dealership hosts one of the largest blood drives on the Peninsula, one of the most successful Toys 4 Tots events in Hampton Roads, and several smaller community events throughout the year to support select nonprofits.
The dealership is also passionate about supporting first responders. The team is currently building two motorcycles for the York County Sherriff’s Office and they often service bikes from several local police departments. The team offered a standing invitation for the County’s fire and life safety offices to set up tables at their events, where they can talk to citizens, show off their bikes and give tours of their trucks.
To further enhance the staff and customer experiences, management staff began starting every decision with question, “Is it good for our customers?” The change of thought is paying off.
The store’s customer service indicator scores are at record highs. When other dealerships have been flat, this location has continued to see record growth. It is in the top 1% (No. 9) of all Harley-Davidson dealerships for beating the corporate sales goal and the parts department is in the top 10% (No. 50).
Chuck and Mary ran the business together full time until Chuck’s death in 1996, then Mary and the couple’s three children—Danny, Julie and Chad—continued to grow the franchise for many years after that. But these days, it’s the leadership team that works together to manage the day-to-day operations.
Team members are proud to be part of the next generation helping to grow the Hampton Roads Harley-Davidson dealership, with many commenting that they wouldn’t want to be doing anything else and that it is an honor to help others live their dreams.