Over the course of the last 55 years, Doc’s Harley-Davidson has seen a number of changes. Established in 1955 by Ralph “Doc” Schneidewind and his good friend Charlie Popovich, Doc and Charlie’s was a small sales and service store offering Doc’s first love, Harley-Davidson® motorcycles.
Originally located in the heart of the city of St. Louis, urban sprawl dictated a change of venue. In 1974 Harley-Davidson® made the decision to move Doc's to Kirkwood in St. Louis County. Located close to the intersection of Lindbergh and Big Bend, the store suffered the ups and downs associated with the triumphs and troubles of Harley-Davidson over the years.
When Doc passed away, his son Ralph took over the 8,400 square foot metal and concrete cinder block facility. Ralph welcomed the responsibility and became the heart and soul of Doc's. Other family members took part also including Ralph's wife Fran, sister Barb and his brother Ronnie.
As the dealership progressed and built a loyal customer base, Ralphs younger sister, Patty, made a career choice at the age of 17 that would inevitably change the face of Doc’s forever, she entered beauty school.
Over the course of 30 years, Patty continued to ride her Harley® but left the dealership in other family members capable hands. Patty became widely recognized as one of the best in her trade. She developed a strong customer following through hard work, long hours and exceptional customer service. As a hair stylist, Patty made her living not by a haircut here or there, but by building long lasting relationships. She made relationships not by a hundreds of customers with a single haircut, but by single customers with hundreds of haircuts. Doc’s was a profitable family business and Patty had become a success in her own right.
But in 1998, tragedy struck the family. Patty’s brother Ralph suffered a brain aneurysm while driving and sadly, was unable to return to work. With no line of succession for the dealership, Harley-Davidson came in and expressed interest in shutting Doc's doors. In an effort to significantly upgrade facilities nationwide, Harley granted a relocation for another dealer 6.1 miles from Doc’s and prepared to shut Doc's down for good.
So with a successful established career as a hairstylist in the balance, massive opposition to a woman running a “man’s business” in a “man’s world” and facing a gamble with the family name and millions of dollars, Patty did what any other 5’ 4”, 112 pound redhead would do, put on a pair of biker boots and prepared for a fight in the sandbox.
Facing down challenges like hard bargaining property owners and construction delays, not to mention corporate challenges, Patty hired architects and secured new prime real estate right on the corner of Lindbergh and Big Bend.
Did the gamble pay off? You bet. Doc’s sales have more than quadrupled. Once ranked 308th out of 608 dealerships, Doc’s is now ranked #2 in the country for sales, service and facility thanks to Patty's strong emphasis on customer service learned as a hairdresser for 30 years.
With limited space compared to new Harley-Davidson super dealerships popping up everywhere, this is quite an achievement. In fact, with all things being equal, when it comes to new purchase experience, Doc’s is ranked in the top 5% of dealers in the country for both new purchase experience and 18-month follow-up surveys!
Over the last few years, Doc's has been visited by Playboy Playmates such as Sandra Hubby, Lindsey Vuolo and Jillian Grace, Mona, bass player for Sammy Hagars Waboritas, Dan Ackroyd and the legendary Evel Knievel to name a few. We've hosted Jimmy Bedford, head distiller for Jack Daniels, Jean Davidson, granddaughter of Walter Davidson, Willie G. and even Sonny Barger.
We've had countless fundraisers for various charities from Backstoppers with Mickey Carroll, last surviving cast member of the Wizard of Oz, to donating a motorycle for raffle and sponsoring the March of Dimes Bikers for Babies Ride hosting over 7,000 motorcycles in procession.
From 8,400 square feet to 28,000 square feet, from the city to the county, from 1955 to present, Doc's Harley-Davidson has become one of St. Louis’ most successful minority owned enterprises. In fact, in only a few short years, Patty was named one of St. Louis' Most Influential Business Women in 2001 by the St. Louis Business Journal.
But Patty knows it was a team effort and she thanks her co-workers at Doc's and the 22,000 customers on our holiday card list for making Doc's so successful over the years!