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Match made in (Hog) heaven: Omaha auto group buys Frontier Harley-Davidson
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Match made in (Hog) heaven: Omaha auto group buys Frontier Harley-Davidson

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When Steve Hinchcliff and his son, Jeff, started looking into adding a Harley-Davidson dealership to their automotive empire, they zeroed in on one particular shop: Lincoln's Frontier Harley-Davidson.

"We'd been talking about a Harley store for three or four years and had identified this as the perfect one for us," said Steve Hinchcliff, president and CEO of H&H Automotive in Omaha.

So when they found out last fall that the dealership was for sale, they jumped at the chance.

A three-month courtship ensued, and the deal was finalized Thursday, making H&H the proud owner of Lincoln's only Harley dealership. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

For Frontier founders Dave and Deb Fischer, it was a perfect fit as well.

Fischer said that while his wife had talked about retirement for awhile, he hadn't really thought about it until recently.

But, "You turn 66, and the world looks differently," he said.

Fischer said that when they decided to sell the business, he and his wife wanted to find a buyer that was a family-owned business with a strong reputation and the ability to strengthen Frontier’s relationship with its customers, employees and the community.

H&H fit the bill.

"We couldn't write a better script," he said.

Hinchcliff said H&H is planning few if any changes to the dealership at 205 N.W. 40th St. The name will remain the same, as will the staff, with the addition of three people from H&H's operations in Omaha.

H&H has seven car dealerships in the Omaha area, but this will be its first foray into the motorsports business.

Hinchcliff said the two businesses are similar, with the main difference being that motorcycles are more of a leisure purchase, and, "the Harley business is a little more passionate."

He said H&H had two main reasons for buying Frontier: business diversification and, "We really like Lincoln."

Hinchcliff said he's hoping Lincoln will like the new owners as much as it has liked the old ones.

The Fischers have had a very successful run in their 31-year career.

They bought Frontier in 1987 when it was in a 15,000-square-foot space near 27th Street and Cornhusker Highway. After nearly two decades of success there, they opened the current location, which is nearly three times as big, in 2006.

The towering building is part dealership, part museum and part tourist attraction.

Hinchcliff called it a "destination" location.

"It's definitely the coolest Harley-Davidson in the state," he said.

Harley has struggled lately, announcing in January it would close its Kansas City manufacturing plant after U.S. sales fell 8.5 percent last year, but the Hinchcliffs are excited about the future.

Jeff Hinchcliff, vice president and chief operating officer of H&H, said Harley plans to come out with around 100 new models in the next 10 years, some of which will be aimed at millennials.

Harley also announced this week that it has taken a stake in electric motorcycle maker Alta Motors and that the two companies will collaborate on electric motorcycle technology and product development.

"Harley's bringing a lot of innovation back," Jeff Hinchcliff said.

Fischer said he's excited to see what innovation H&H can bring to Frontier.

He referred to the business as a "mom and pop," and he said H&H has the resources and know how to do things with marketing and other aspects of the business that the Fischers were not able to do.

"I'm really excited to see where they take the business," Fischer said.

He also said he's excited to see where retirement will take him and his wife, although they have no specific plans yet, other than buying a BMW — from H&H, of course.

"After 31 years of never having a Saturday off, I'm going to decompress a little bit."

Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or molberding@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.

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Business editor/reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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