Jeff McInturff was 5 years old when he started riding a Rupp mini bike.
That started a life-long love affair with motorized two-wheelers. From the Rupp he moved on to a Hodaka Super Rat dirt bike. He raced motocross. His first street bike was a Honda CB750K.
“I’ve had a little bit of everything since then,” said McInturff, now 56.
He has often been able to combine his passion for motorcycling with his post-college career. He started selling motorcycles in 1977, worked for Nissan and Acura dealerships, sold software to greeting card maker American Greetings and to the Cleveland Indians. On Valentine’s Day in 2004 he started working at Adventure Harley-Davidson in Dover.
Then last year the owner of Adventure Harley bought out Akron-based Liberty Harley and opened Rubber City Harley-Davidson in a newly remodeled location on Main Street, just off Howe Avenue in Cuyahoga Falls. McInturff was named Rubber City’s sales manager.
As of Jan. 1, the motorcycle-loving McInturff is Rubber City Harley’s newly promoted general manager. That means he oversees more than 40 employees, implementing Harley-Davidson corporate regulations and more.
His goal is to take the new store to its potential, he said.
“With our location, we should be, in my mind, a front runner” and one of Ohio’s top Harley-Davidson dealerships, McInturff said.
The store’s location in a significant retail area and its ability to draw from the greater Akron area are strengths, he said.
“We’re already seeing a strong touring model buyer here,” he said. McInturff expects Rubber City will do well with demand for pre-owned motorcycles as well as Harley’s new models.
First-time visitors to Rubber City, particularly women, are often surprised at what they find inside, he said. Common preconceptions are that the store will be largely full of motorcycles with hard-core riders milling around, he said.
But what they find is a different experience, he said. There are lots of motorcycles on the large, clean open-floor showroom but also significant clothing and accessories areas, he said.
“Here, we’ll get a mom and her daughter walking in,” McInturff said. “We’re proud of the way it turned out.”
Winter in Northeast Ohio means a bit more down time at the store, giving employees the ability to regroup and hone skills through training, McInturff said.
“We have more time to spend with our customers,” he said. “We’re a sales organization. We don’t have order takers and cashiers.”
Rubber City’s focus is customer service, he said.
“We know that’s where we’ll create the majority of our success,” McInturff said.
And just in case you were wondering, McInturff does indeed ride a Harley: A 2002 Screamin’ Eagle purple and gray flame Road King touring bike.
Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or firstname.lastname@example.org.