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Harley Davidson Financial breaks ground

Karl Horeis

The site where the new Harley Davidson Financial Services building will be built was bathed in sunlight during Saturday’s ground breaking while stormy weather billowed on all sides. Donna Zarcone, chief operating officer for the company, noted a distinct, long-lasting rainbow overhead.

“Who arranged for that?” she asked. “Mayor Masayko? Facilities? … I think it’s a very good sign. A sign of our future.”

The three-story, 100,000-square-foot building will be built on Technology Way in front of two buildings the company currently leases.

A red carpet flanked by two rows of shiny motorcycles lead to a white tent set up for the ceremony. City leaders, assemblymen, redevelopment officials and some of the company’s almost 500 employees attended. Artists’ renderings in the tent showed a white building surrounded by trees.

“How appropriate for the king of chrome to be building here in the Silver State,” said Zarcone.

The building, expected to be completed by November 2004, will house a call center with about 500 employees. Harley Davidson Financial Services offers financing for both dealers and buyers of Harley Davidson motorcycles. They also offer insurance coverage and extended service.

“Basically anything you need to ride out of the store on a bike,” said Mike Sulentic who is the vice president of the company and in charge of the new building project. While the company’s headquarters is in Chicago, Carson City is home to its largest operation as far as number of employees, he said.

“The pro-business attitude of this area was very attractive to us,” he said. “And Nevada is a beautiful state to ride in.”

Harley Davidson Financial Services started in Carson City about 11 years ago with one employee and a card table in a Fairview Drive office, explained Donal Hummer, vice president of communications and government affairs. He said the new Technology Way call center will process hundreds of thousands of loans, supporting sales across the entire United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. The facility will cost about $20 million to build and equip, Hummer said.

Several local leaders spoke during the ground breaking.

Mayor Ray Masayko said he’s thrilled to the bottom of his boots to have Harley Davidson Financial Services in Carson City.

Lt. Governor Lorraine Hunt sent a representative who read a letter of congratulations while wind blew sand outside the plastic tent.

Assemblyman Ron Knecht described the Legislative battle which, he said, enabled the ground breaking to occur. It was fought over the amount of taxes and the type of taxes, he said.

“We won on the type of taxes – stopping the gross receipts tax and the franchise fees, etc. That’s why we’re here today.”

He said Masayko and other city officials deserve credit as well.

“They were really helpful on this too, by supporting the property tax reduction.”

Carson City Sheriff Kenny Furlong attended the ceremony, as well as three deputies who parked their Harley Davidson FLH Police Special patrol motorcycles out front.