Harley Davidson | Hauling an American Legend

Aug 06, 2003

When one considers the sheer magnitude of the Harley-Davidson "Open Road Tour," the thought of providing mobility services can be daunting; the extravaganza is akin to a major rock concert and museum exhibit all rolled into one.

Forget, for a moment, the three dozen glistening-new motorcycles. Or the four dozen vintage bikes, some of which are priceless and haven't seen the light of day in nearly 100 years. Forget the tons of display elements that accompany the cargo. But what can't be ignored is the responsibility that goes with the transportation of an honest-to-goodness American legend.

Atlas STG experts know the responsibility well. They are providing a complement of services for the show that celebrates Harley-Davidson's 100-year history. The tour has been crisscrossing the continent since last July. It is scheduled to culminate August 31, 2003, when hundreds of thousands take part in a birthday bash in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, birthplace of the legendary "hog."

harley_quote1Atlas is part of a comprehensive team of companies that were selected by Harley-Davidson for expertise in specific areas. As the event moves from location to location, the installation and dismantling of the hundreds of exhibit elements must flow like clockwork. With acres of museum-quality exhibits, staging for musicians, talent coordination, site inspection, setup, and a lengthy list of peripheral tasks, the ability to work together is essential.

Jim Finch, Corporate Vice President, Atlas agent Ace Worldwide, heads up the Atlas team responsible for the physical transportation of the show's elements — a role that requires ultra-responsiveness to deal with sudden changes in scheduling. At one point, some 85 vehicles associated with the tour had to rendezvous in transit to perform an extensive redistribution of the exhibition elements — a challenge for even the most seasoned transportation specialists.

So, what else does it take to transport this American legend? "It takes dedicated, climate-controlled trailers and experienced drivers on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week," says Ryan McConnell, Manager, Atlas Trade Show and National Account Services. "Then there are 38 specialized electronic trailers and their drivers that carry the various display materials and archives."

Ryan points out that constant contact with the drivers is essential. They not only keep in touch via radio and cell phone, but also are equipped with satellite communication equipment for a constant "open line" to ensure communication is never broken. When all vehicles are considered, the total mileage figures are equivalent to several round trips to the moon.

Being chosen by Harley-Davidson to be part of their team is a great honor. The level of trust is enormous, considering Atlas is responsible for what might be thought of as the company's entire legacy.

"We've set a new gold standard for caution," says Allen Clem, Director of Global Logistics Planning/Engineering at Harley-Davidson. "We are very happy with Atlas. They've done everything we've asked of them. Ryan McConnell and the Atlas team have been excellent to work with. Their positive mindset and can-do attitude exemplify the Harley-Davidson culture."

Several factors influenced Harley-Davidson's selection of Atlas. Atlas is known as one of the fastest-growing specialized transportation providers in the nation, for good reason. Atlas routinely transports museum tours and private tour events, and it has been trusted by some of America's highest-profile companies to transport computer systems, medical equipment and priceless works of art. And when the weather is right, you can hear the unmistakable roar of Harley-Davidson motorcycles outside the Atlas World Group headquarters. (Several members of Atlas' management and staff ride Harley-Davidson motorcycles.) Clem said that it impressed Harley-Davidson management that the people who worked on the project could approach it not only as business people, but also as enthusiasts.

Atlas is proud to be part of the Harley-Davidson "Open Road Tour," and especially honored to be trusted with the tour's precious physical elements. But, more than that, Atlas is proud to be carrying another, unseen element — a tradition woven into the dreams of generations. Atlas is transporting the enduring legacy of the men who started it all, a uniquely American vision that continues to inspire the spirits of riders. Atlas has been entrusted with a genuine American legend.




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