Celebrities, a Moto2 racer, loyal customers – and the Paisley and District RBL pipe band – celebrate the return of Hinckley’s bikes to the west of Scotland.
There’s a pleasing symmetry about the opening of the new West Coast Triumph Glasgow dealership. Because the dealer principal, Don Rutherford, was the original Hinckley Triumph dealer in Glasgow back in 1992, when his Scotbike store became one of the relaunched brand’s first outlets. Fast forward thirty years – another neat coincidence – and Rutherford is the executive director at his firm West Coast, the Harley-Davidson and now Triumph dealer in Hillington, to the west of Glasgow.
West Coast had just finished its launch weekend when BDN spoke to Rutherford, and managing director David Hackshall, about the background to the new opening and how it had all gone. “The people from Triumph were gobsmacked! They’d never seen anything like it; the idea of a pipe band opening a dealership worked really well, and everyone loved it,” said Rutherford.
“We welcomed a lot of invited guests, including anyone who had already bought a bike from us. We also had the Triumph people up, and Rory Skinner, the [Moto2/Triumph] racer,” added Hackshall.
Triumph had been absent in Glasgow since early 2021, when the previous dealer, Triumph Glasgow (which was literally a stone’s throw from West Coast Harley-Davidson), went into administration. West Coast agreed a deal with Triumph early in 2022 to take on the franchise, and the team has been hard at work ever since.
“We signed the contract back at the beginning of the year,” said Hackshall. “Planning permission took forever. Our original plan was to open around April/May, but the planning took twice as long as we thought.”
Staff recruitment is as big a job as new premises, of course – but West Coast had an amazing response. “We had a recruitment drive in Dec 2021 and had a fantastic response; 120 people applied, and 83 turned up for interview, and most of the vacancies were filled on the day.”
It meant that the firm had an agreement to sell bikes, and new staff ready to go – but no premises. An innovative solution was called for, and it came in the form of a temporary office parked up outside the Harley-Davidson store. “Starting in May, the new recruits were integrated into the Harley showroom to show them how West Coast operates. Then we purchased a portable cabin and put it at the back of the Harley site. Our Triumph service manager, parts guy and three salesmen were in there by June and all systems were go,” added Hackshall.
An unconventional start then – but now the firm is up and running in premises just a few hundred yards from the Harley-Davidson base. Of course, the firm has some central shared services, with finance, admin and marketing covering both parts of the business, and the heads of sales and aftersales looking after both brands too. It’s the staff who are key to the business, though, says Rutherford. “The business is all about people, you can have a successful business in any location, but it’s all about people. We brought them in early to ‘fatten them up’ on the West Coast ethos, so they understood how we operate, then transposed that over to the Triumph business. That’s been paramount.”
Both Rutherford and Hackshall agree that the brands work together, too. “They’re both charismatic brands, but each has its own space in the market, and from that point of view they complement each other very well.”
After the grand opening late in November, you’d maybe expect West Coast Triumph to be hibernating a little bit until springtime, but not a bit of it. “We’re not hunkering down at all,” said Hackshall. “West Coast doesn’t do winter! We’re continuing with our events calendar and keeping customers engaged with what we’re doing.”
Don Rutherford agrees. “It’s customer engagement, and that’s what we need to do all through the winter – keep our customers engaged and make sure they keep thinking of us. Then when the time comes to buy a new bike, they’ll think of us and not go anywhere else.”