Exclusive: Ricart getting into the motorcycle business by buying Harley-Davidson dealership

Ricart Automotive is getting in the motorcycle business.

The Columbus-based auto dealership is acquiring the three-store A.D. FarrowHarley-Davidson dealership for an undisclosed sum.

“Harley-Davidson is a brand our family is passionate about,” President Rick Ricart said in an interview. “This is an opportunity for us to diversify.”

Bob Althoff, who has owned A.D. Farrow for 18 years, will maintain a minority ownership share in the business and will stay on as a partner.

“My kids aren’t in the business,” Althoff told me. “I can’t live forever, but family can. That’s the A.D. Farrow name, the Ricart name. I could have brought this to the national market, but I needed to hand this off to better, strong hands. They’re going to do just fine.”

The two sides have been discussing a deal for more than a year, both Ricart and Althoff confirmed.

A.D. Farrow was founded in 1912.

The deal includes the Franklinton dealership at 491 W. Broad St., the store and real estate at NorthStar in Sunbury, and the Centennial Park dealership in Pataskala.

The Pataskala dealership will be relocated to 5840 Scarborough Blvd. just off Brice Road, a nearly 3-acre site acquired by a Ricart affiliate in January 2018 for $1.5 million, according to Franklin County property records.

The plan is to brand the stores as “A.D. Farrow powered by #1 Ricart.”

“The A.D. Farrow name has a 107-year history in Central Ohio,” Ricart said. “For us to eliminate that would be ridiculous.”

A.D. Farrow has 55 full-time employees and 30 part-time.

“This is a different industry for us,” Ricart said. “We’re looking forward to getting to know the employees and figuring out how to grow.”

Though a new business for Ricart, the family knows the brand well as customers. Ricart himself owns a 2014 Street Glide and he estimated his extended family owns 20 Harley-Davidsons.

“They’re good guys with deep roots,” Althoff said. “They’re riders. They’re customers of ours. They get it.”

Ricart said that unlike the auto industry, Harley-Davidson is a lifestyle brand. While a car or truck is mostly about moving the driver from point A to point B, loyal Harley lovers have a deeper affinity for their motorcycles, which have entire events and clothing lines built around that name.

But it isn’t just that traditional Harley that had Ricart intrigued. Ricart praised the brand’s research and development efforts in recent years, both in its efforts to make engines better and more efficient (while not losing that signature sound or muscle) and its work on new products including electric options, off-road capable bikes and scooters.

Harley-Davidson announced plans for a new R&D facility in Silicon Valley to focus on electric vehicles last fall and showed off a trio of scooters at the annual CES event in January in Las Vegas. Being able to offer those products, in addition to the traditional motorcycles, the array of auto brands and a growing fleet business, is part of Ricart’s vision to support a larger mobility footprint and alternative transportation, Ricart said.

A.D. Farrow bills itself as America’s oldest Harley dealer, founded in 1912 by Alfred D. Farrow and his wife Lilly Farrow. Farrow’s shop originated in Nelsonville and moved to Columbus in 1924.

 

 

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