Monday would have been a beautiful, if chilly, day for Milton resident Matt Scheurman to ride out of Boardtracker Harley-Davidson dealership on his motorcycle.
But that wasn’t an option.
On Monday, Boardtracker was shuttered—a decision dealership staff learned Saturday, a man calling himself a “now former employee” told The Gazette. A sign on the door Monday gave notice: “The dealership is closed.”
Boardtracker’s service department had Scheurman’s bike, a 2006 Harley-Davidson Electric Classic, in for repairs for about three weeks. Initially, the shop said, Boardtracker needed to wait for a parts shipment to get a main drive belt the bike needed.
Now, Scheurman’s Harley is locked up inside Boardtracker’s dealership, and Scheurman said he has no idea how he can get the bike, repaired or not.
Gazette phone calls to the dealership on the city’s north side were answered Monday by a machine with a recorded message: “You have reached Boardtracker Harley-Davidson. The dealership is closed.”
Boardtracker has been in a legal fight this year after Harley-Davidson Credit Corp. filed a lawsuit in federal court in February. The lawsuit alleges the dealership’s registered owner, Sara Pomeroy of Boardtracker Harley-Davidson and Iron Town Harley-Davidson, was selling motorcycles but not paying back Harley-Davidson’s creditor for money the dealerships had borrowed to acquire motorcycles and other products.
The creditor had sought to get Boardtracker’s sales shut down, arguing Boardtracker had committed breach of lending arrangements and fraud by continuing to sell motorcycles even as it repeatedly bounced checks or failed to make payments on loans from Harley-Davidson.
A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction in March allowing Boardtracker to continue selling motorcycles as long as it began to repay Harley-Davidson under its credit agreements.
In a set of new filings last week, Harley’s creditor urged the court to completely block Boardtracker from selling motorcycles, alleging recent audits show Boardtracker’s owner has continued to sell motorcycles without repaying Harley.
The creditor claims Boardtracker’s owner had sold about $1.9 million in motorcycles without paying loans to the creditor and an additional $102,000 since the March court order.
The creditor in its suit does not name the dealership’s management or sales employees and does not blame customers who bought motorcycles Boardtracker didn’t pay creditors for.
As of Monday, it doesn’t appear the court had decided on the creditor’s new request to block Boardtracker’s owner from making sales.
Boardtracker’s owner has indicated in court filings that it has been trying to sell its New Berlin and Janesville locations. In a court filing last week, Boardtracker’s ownership claimed a recent check to the creditor bounced because dealership staff evidently “failed to move money from our main checking into the ACH (automatic payment account) during all the month end cleanup.”
It wasn’t immediately clear whether Boardtracker’s closure is tied to recent court filings by the creditor, but on Monday morning the Janesville dealership and its used vehicle sales and customer storage facility next door were closed. It appeared no one was inside either location.
On Monday, The Gazette was unable to reach Boardtracker’s owner by phone, and Harley-Davidson’s attorney in the lawsuit against the Boardtracker owners declined comment.
Eric Thompson sat in the Boardtracker dealership parking lot Monday morning. Thompson was wearing a striped Boardtracker work shirt with a patch on the pocket that reads “staff.”
Thompson, who said he’s from Elkhorn, said his “main job was picking up and dropping off motorcycles” for Boardtracker.
“Until Saturday, it was,” Thompson said.
Thompson said employees were told Saturday the dealership was being shuttered. He said he didn’t get much other information.
He drove to the dealership Monday, he said, “out of curiosity” and to share what he knew with any customers who might have shown up expecting to pick up a motorcycle.
Thompson said Boardtracker’s on-site general manager, who handled the final paperwork on sales, and an office manager, who handled payroll, both quit within the last week for jobs elsewhere.
He said the 20 or so remaining employees had been paid as of earlier this month, and about “90 percent of them” already have new jobs lined up.
Thompson said after the Harley creditor’s lawsuit, operations at the Janesville dealership had begun to grind down and staff had begun to seek different jobs.
Thompson said the dealership in the last few months had done brisk business, averaging sales of “just under 40 motorcycles a month.” But he said Harley-Davidson had only shipped Boardtracker parts once in the last four months, and he said it’s been “several months” since Harley shipped the dealership any new motorcycles.
“The handwriting has been on the wall,” Thompson said. “Things just kept getting worse to where we’ve just had less and less ability to do things with customers. People here were getting it from customers nine ways to Sunday.”
Thompson said the owners’ New Berlin dealership is slated to be sold to another dealership owner, and he said that sale is about “60 percent done.” He said the New Berlin store remained open Monday.
A woman who answered the phone at the New Berlin dealership on Monday said the business is open and now “kind of separate” from the Janesville dealership.
Behind Boardtracker’s locked showroom doors and in the used vehicle facility next door, Thompson estimated there were still about 60 motorcycles. Some are motorcycles people were storing at Boardtracker over winter, but some others, Thompson said, have been sold to customers and were awaiting delivery or pickup.
Thompson wasn’t sure what arrangements are being made for customers to get their purchased or stored bikes.
Scheurman said he left a message at Boardtracker on Sunday asking about his motorcycle. He said it was after he heard the dealership was shuttering. He said as of Monday afternoon, nobody had called him back.
Scheurman owns the motorcycle. He said the title is was sitting on his dresser. He hadn’t even bought the bike at Boardtracker; he was just getting it serviced there.
He said he feels like he’s in a crossfire between corporate lawyers who are fighting over a credit issue. All he wants to do is have access to ride a motorcycle he owns.
“It’s a frustrating thing. I could see if I financed the thing through Harley or something like that. But it’s paid off. I own it. I just needed a drive belt replaced. They didn’t tell me anything different when I dropped the bike off.”
Scheurman said he called Harley-Davidson’s customer service hotline about his dilemma. He said Harley-Davidson told him it is Boardtracker’s responsibility to reach out to its customers over the dealership closure.
On Monday, a man who said he’s from Eau Claire pulled a white Chevrolet SUV into Boardtracker’s parking lot. The SUV had an empty motorcycle trailer hooked to the back.
The man, who declined to give his name, said he came to Janesville to pick up a used Harley-Davidson Road King motorcycle he recently bought from Boardtracker. He said he had no idea Boardtracker was closed, and he didn’t know when, or if, he would be able to get his motorcycle.
“I guess you can say I’m a little disappointed. I can’t afford to go out and buy another bike,” the man said.
“This is the one I bought.”