A.D. Farrow documents life of Harley-Davidson 100 years

The City of Columbus isn’t the only entity celebrating a monumental and historic birthday in 2012.

As Columbus observes its bicentennial, local Harley-Davidson dealership A.D. Farrow Co. turns 100 and plans to celebrate being America’s Oldest Harley Dealer with a series of events that kicked off last month with a Save the Date Party on Feb. 26, the company’s birthday.

“We know that date (Feb. 26, 2012) is the date because Alfred D. Farrow, the company’s founder, placed an order with Harley-Davidson in Milwaukee and Harley has no other orders pre-dating Mr. Farrow’s,” said Bob Althoff,  Dealer Principal of A.D. Farrow for the last 10 years.

The Farrow Family operated the dealership until Pat and Al Doerman purchased it in 1983. Current Dealer Principal Althoff and his wife Valerie purchased the company in 2002.

Althoff said Farrow was among the pioneering men who helped established Harley-Davidson Motor Company just after the turn of the century. He said Farrow’s first motorcycle shop originated in Nelsonville, Ohio, in Athens County and eventually moved to Columbus, Ohio in 1924 with the dealership being operated by both Farrow and his wife Lillian.

Since that time, the company has called a few Columbus locations home until settling in its current location on 491 West Broad St. in 1941. Althoff said the

dealership has since developed into a family of dealerships occupying the central Ohio market in the cities of Pataskala, Sunbury, downtown Columbus and in Delaware County in Sunbury.


Photo from A.D. Farrow

The Sunbury location, known as the Shop at NorthStar has an 18-acre campus complete with a 32,000 square foot facility, according to Althoff.

“We probably have between 75,000 and 100,000 square feet at all three locations,” Althoff said.

Althoff and A.D. Farrow’s Minister of Culture, Doug Kamerer said customers’ at all three locations are honored to be a part of the company’s milestone birthday.

“We’ve just started a photo collection of people and their Harley’s documenting the last 100 year,” Kamerer said.

Althoff said the growth and the stability of the company the past 100 years can be attributed to several factors. One of those factors is witnessing the love of motorcycles being passed down from generation to generation.

“You see grandfathers and fathers passing on their love for riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles to their daughters and sons and those people passing their love for riding onto their children,” Althoff said.

Kamerer said it also doesn’t hurt that the State of Ohio has been consistently in the top five in the country in total motorcycle registrations.

“I know the last couple of years Ohio was third or fourth in the country (in total motorcycle registrations) and that’s even with our really bad winters,” Kamerer said.

Althoff said the “tree-house” of Harley Davidson owners is no longer one that is simply male.

“We have no stereotypical customer,” he said. “You see young and old owners, rich and poor, black and white and man and women. As a matter of fact 14 percent of our customers are women.”


Photo from A.D. Farrow

Althoff said A.D. Farrow continues to strive and grow and serve the motorcycling community and is also cognizant of the ability to serve the non-motorcycling community as well through several charitable donations.

He said the company has been involved in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Columbus, donating thousands of dollars to the race as well as instigating the famous Thunder Tunnel.  The Thunder Tunnel is when motorcyclists gather along a portion of the route to rev their engines and cheer on race contestants.

Both Kamerer and Althoff said contributions to military causes hold a special place in the company’s heart as the company hosts the annual Ohio Fallen Heroes Motorcycle Ride and Rally honoring those whom have lost their lives in the war on terror.

The company helps train current Lima Company Marines with their Rider’s Edge Safety Course, to ensure that each marine stays safe while riding on base. These contributions won A.D. Farrow Co. the prestigious Conway Family Business Center “Community Engagement Award.

Althoff said, “We sometimes lead, sometimes follow, but always are the glue as our big hearted and generous motorcyclists step up to support yet another worthwhile cause.”

As A.D. Farrow continues to grow in the Central Ohio community it will always have the goal of being the number one provider of Harley-Davidson motorcycles and accessories in the area.


Althoff said the company has sold more motorcycles in the past eight years than it has in the past 92 years combined. He said he doesn’t see that number slowing of the passion for people wanting Harley –Davidson motorcycles ending anytime in the next 100 years.

“The thing with wanting a Harley will end when people don’t want to speed on (Interstate) 71,” Althoff said. “But I don’t think it go away anytime soon because Harley owners and riders have a kinship and share a culture that is going to be around for a long, long time.”

For information about the country’s oldest Harley-Davidson dealership and its year-long celebration visit the company’s Web site at

Mark A.Claffey/Columbus Wired

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