MARION - In just three short years, Black Diamond Harley-Davidson has conquered the world.
The Marion business, which opened its doors three years ago this month, announced Monday it leads the world in total (pre-owned and new) bike sales.
Yes, year-to-date, the dealership sits on top of the world in sales volume.
And that's not all.
Black Diamond is also No. 1 in the state and No. 4 in the nation when it comes to new bike sales, according to the Harley-Davidson district office.
"We thought we'd be successful, but No. 1 in the world? We never thought we would achieve that," said Rodney Cabaness, who, along with Shad Zimbro, owns the dealership.
The universal success of the dealership may be a surprise to Cabaness, but to Marion Mayor Bob Butler, who affectionately calls the city the "Hub of the Universe," the sales ranking is less than shocking.
"Obviously their retail sales have been phenomenal, which has been of great benefit to the city" Butler said. "They have taken a unique approach to marketing their product and from my understanding, they are very accommodating to their prospective customers and continue the relationship even after a purchase. Bottom line? Good product, good price and good service."
Quite good apparently, because even in a down economy, the dealership has thrived.
While the national sales average is down about 40 percent, Black Diamond sales are up 20 percent over last year.
"We're affected by the economy just like everyone else. Harleys are a luxury item that people don't really have to have, but they've done a great job of selling through this economy. In every aspect of the business, they are up - parts, service, bikes, clothes. They are doing a terrific job," Harley District Manager Joe Rock said.
The business has 54 employees, compared to 14 at its opening, and has expanded twice, adding a 33,000-square-foot building at the end of 2008 and tacking on another 5,000 square feet to its main building earlier this year.
While roughly 70 percent of sales are local, the dealership has become a destination for out-of-area customers, Zimbro said.
"So far today, we've sold bikes (to customers from) Kentucky, Indiana and a couple in Illinois," he said Monday afternoon. "We've gotten our name out there. People know this is the place to go."
Especially if looking for outrageous deals. Among the more interesting items the dealership has accepted for trade-in are a horse, land, a house and a fighting rooster.
Black Diamond also offers free, often unusual entertainment every weekend to draw in customers.
But while they draw in, they also give back. Last year, the dealership gave back about $120,000 to different charities, including $45,000 in scholarships to local students.
"That was very important to us, to give back to the people and the community that supports us. Southern Illinois, Marion and the surrounding area, other businesses, well, we knew they would be supportive but when you feel like everyone is rooting for you, that's a big part of your success. It's very nice," Cabaness said.
Black Diamond's employees also deserve much of the credit, Cabaness said.
"Our employees are awesome. We could not even dream of doing what we do without them beating the pavement," he said.
How the dealership plans to top its current sales volume is "just what we were wondering," Zimbro said with a laugh. "We've got some great things coming in the next few years. I think we're going to make people very happy."