MOTORCYCLE TIMES, INC. HISTORY
In 1970, Barry Matteson, an avid motorcycle enthusiast, was employed by Universal Services in Anchorage. Unable to afford the “Harley” of his dreams, he rode a 650cc Triumph. Late during the summer of 1970, upon returning from a family outing in Ninilchik, he learned that his Triumph had been stolen. Six weeks later the bike was returned to him, retrieved from the bottom of a gravel pit where thieves attempted to “strip it” using a sledge hammer and a crescent wrench. Obviously the bike was not worth repairing, but would make good “chopper material.”
Barry set out to learn about building a “chopper” by buying every magazine available that might give him information and sources for parts. Magazines and parts were both hard to come by in those days. He noticed in the few ads for custom parts which did appear, the bottom note which read “dealer inquiries invited”. Barry’s desire for the custom cycle became “Barry’s Custom Cycle”; a part time business in a one car garage on Oklahoma Street in Muldoon. In March of 1971, the Triumph sold for $250 and that covered the expense of a business license, stationary, paint, a heater for the garage, and a few parts to hang on the freshly painted red, white, and blue walls. Small ads in local newspapers got the business started.
The boss at Universal Services caught wind of the operation and gave Barry an ultimatum: “Work for USI or for himself.” Barry made the choice to stay with “Barry’s Custom Cycle.” Also in 1971, the local Harley-Davidson dealer decided to give up the Harley line. The Harley-Davidson Motor Company then placed an ad in a local paper looking for a new dealer. Barry answered the ad that year and pursued the offer until 1975 when he was finally given the franchise. The name was changed to “The House of Harley-Davidson.”
By this time, the house and garage in Muldoon had been sold and the proceeds were used to lease a building on Spenard Road next to “Chilkoot Charlie’s.” Landlord problems precipitated another move in 1977 to a small shop on Chugach Way, just half a block off Spenard Road across from “PJ’s.”
Barry had worked on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline from 1974 to 1977. He used his paychecks to pay off his debts, to build his inventory, and to buy the building on Chugach Way. He worked at the business during his time off to keep it in operation.
In 1981 the business moved to its present location on Spenard Road. In 1995 the two adjoining lots were purchased by MTI to be used for service and storage. In 1996 a major store remodel to the main structure was completed. This included converting Barry and Karen’s living quarters on the third floor into a beautiful clothing and accessories store.
With plans to build an adequate facility to house the company’s continued growth, in 1998 a parcel of land was purchased on Dowling Road. Our customers and neighbors in the Spenard area were disappointed to hear of our possible move. In 1999 the old “Tradewinds/Polar Inn”, adjacent to our current facility, went on the market. Barry and Karen procured it and built a 15,000 square foot expansion with a completion date of August, 2002. We celebrated our “Grand Opening” in June of 2002.
In 1997 Kenai Peninsula Harley-Davidson in Soldotna opened. In 2000 the KPHD store moved to an exciting, new 8,000 square foot Harley-Davidson shop on the Sterling Highway.
In December of 2004 Denali Harley-Davidson in Wasilla opened a new full-service shop in Wasilla, located just off of the Parks Highway on Hyer Road.
The business has grown from a sole proprietorship with three employees in 1975, to three stores operating under one corporation, “Motorcycle Times, Inc.” We now employ over 40 people during the riding season. MTI supports community involvement as well as local chapters of the Harley Owners Group (HOG) and ABATE of Alaska. We have been instrumental in the development of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation training and education program in Anchorage, and provide “Riders Edge” training programs in Soldotna and Wasilla. We are members of the Chambers of Commerce, in Anchorage, Soldotna and Wasilla, The Anchorage Economic & Development Corporation, The Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau, The Alaska Motorcycle Dealers Association, and the National Federation of Independent Businesses.