The iconic Harley-Davidson rumble regularly fills Winslow’s historic district. Hundreds of them pass through every week–part of why Brian and I bought The 66 Motor Palace. We wanted a place to call home that welcomed and loved motorcycles. Winslow fit that bill.
In mid-May, Brian and I had a visitor in Winslow, someone connected to our transition from California back to my home state of Arizona, someone who will make a big impact on the motorcycle scene in Northern and Central Arizona for both local riders and tourists alike. Dia Matteson, pictured on the left. More on her in a sec…
First, let’s talk about Barry, seen on the right.
While Dia and Brian talked business, Barry walked around Winslow and fell in love with the town and the multitude of motorcycles cruising through.
“I had been through Winslow a couple times before over the years and am happy to see the revitalization that seems to be going on there. I am a history buff and really enjoy old buildings and old towns. It’s amazing the number of people who stand on “The Corner” from all walks of life and of all ages.”Barry Matteson
Barry enjoyed his May visit so much, he hopped on his Harley-Davidson Road Glide a couple of weeks later and rode from Mesa Arizona with two friends to share the Standing on a Corner in Winslow Arizona experience.
So just who is Barry?
Alaska resident Barry Matteson has been riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles since the seventies.
“My first Harley was a 1945 45 CI military surplus bike that a customer traded in on Sportster. My next was a chopper I built with a ’49 (I think) rigid frame and a ’76 Shovel Head motor, then came a white ’78 Lowrider and memory fades me from there – there have been many!”Barry Matteson
“I think the old cliché of “if I have to explain, you wouldn’t understand” is a cop-out. I say that because I really can’t explain it. Of course, there is the camaraderie, excitement, occasional adrenalin spike, the sights, sounds, and smells, etc. etc. What I know for sure is if I haven’t ridden for a while I get a strong urgency to do so! Would that be called “I’m jonsing to ride!”?”Barry Matteson
In 1971, after operating his chopper shop “Barry’s Custom Cycle,” he pursued buying the Anchorage Alaska Harley-Davidson dealership. It took a couple of years, but in 1975, he succeeded and opened the doors of his new dealership: The House of Harley.
Over time, he grew the business, adding stores in Soldotna and Wasilla Alaska. He often thought about escaping the harsh winters for the desert climate, but never opened a dealership outside of Alaska–although he did buy a vacation home in Mesa because he loved riding Arizona. Especially with his friend…
Barry and Jerry met in 1975 while working on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.
“Jerry and I have been riding together since the mid ’80s. We are in tune with each other’s riding styles. We rarely have disagreements and if so can work them out in no time at all. Back in the day, we were pretty hardcore bikers!”Barry Matteson
The two have been pals for over forty years and–after spending time with them over lunch at Relic Road–it’s clear to see why. They have an easy banter between them, and both sport a mischievous twinkle in their eyes
“We love riding and we are Harley-Davidson to the core. From the get-go we had great times which led to many exciting adventures. We have ridden together in most states in America, as well as Canada, Mexico and Australia, on many different Harley motorcycles. Now in our mid-70’s we still get together for great rides.”Barry Matteson
Also riding with them, Nick, a Volkswagen technician in Alaska and boyfriend to Barry’s daughter Dia. The three of them spent the day riding Arizona’s spectacular roads, Nick on Barry’s Springer.
One of the things they all love about Arizona is the diverse road system.
“In many parts of the state, the roads could go straight north/south or east/west – but they rarely do. We have a home in Eastern Mesa. Within a few miles going north or east, I’m in the mountains.”Barry Matteson
And that’s what Barry likes to do. Explore on his motorcycle. In 2012, he decided to swap time in the store for time in the saddle. After 40+ years in the business, Barry sold the Harley-Davidson dealerships to his daughter, Dia, who also loves Arizona’s roads.
“I did my first solo ride from Tucson to Spokane and fell in love. The best curves and cool towns and scenery are in Northern Arizona. It truly is a state with a diverse landscape and climate. ”Dia Matteson
Dia grew up in her father’s dealership, both figuratively and literally. At fourteen, she started working there, learning every department. She’s an avid rider and a true Harley-Davidson enthusiast, plus, she’s smart. She has a Master’s Degree in Business from the University of Alaska and the kind of personality that gets things done. She’s a visionary with big dreams and the will and skill to accomplish her goals.
“Dia excelled in all the departments as she worked her way to General Manager. I had a GM before who left after his 5-year commitment. I was without a GM for several years. Having Dia as a GM was such a relief for me. I always say: I got my degree from the school of hard knocks! Dia got hers from UAA.”Barry Matteson
When Dia bought the dealerships, she was only twenty-five years old, the youngest female Harley-Davidson dealer in the world. Over the seven years since buying the already successful dealerships, she has grown them to Platinum-Award-Winning status.
Like her father, Dia dreamed of expanding outside of Alaska.
“I have been looking to do more and expand and find new challenges. I always figure if someone else can do it why can’t I? So I have been casually looking for opportunities outside Alaska.Dia Matteson
Dia talked with a broker and found out about an intriguing possibility.
Grand Canyon Harley-Davidson
When Dia learned the Grand Canyon Harley-Davidson group of stores in Northern and Central Arizona was for sale she jumped on the opportunity.
“Growing up I would come down to Arizona with my dad and ride on the back of his bike all over the state and into New Mexico to visit my grandparents. I always loved coming down here and it was a special bond with my dad, who I endearingly call Barry from working together.”Dia Matteson
On June 17th, 2019 Dia Matteson became the new owner of Grand Canyon Harley-Davidson–consisting of four locations–the main dealership in Bellemont (located on Route 66!), a Harley-Davidson shop in Mayer near Prescott Valley, and retail stores in Prescott and Sedona.
“I plan on revitalizing COMMUNITY up here. We focus on being a platform for the riding community, local charities and facilitating the culture. We want to be the destination for riders all over.”Dia Matteson
And now we get to our connection to Dia and Barry, and how they helped transition us out of California.
Brian’s Part in GCHD
While Dia loves spending time in Arizona and the year-round riding, she does not plan on moving. Her home is in Alaska with her two bulldogs, Chunk & Truffles (although she does love Winslow’s Bulldog too!)
Last month, some friends at Harley-Davidson HQ knew of Brian’s connection to Northern Arizona and put the two of them in touch. They hit it off immediately and within a short period of time, Brian joined to help her transition the dealerships to her ownership.
Six months later, at the end of December 2019, they had staff in place, logistics worked out, and now Brian is officially retired from Harley-Davidson after a wonderful twenty-five-year career.
Best of luck to Dia on her new acquisitions! We look forward to riding to the various locations to say hello!
“Though I was never able to find my Harley home in the Sun Belt, my daughter Dia has taken my legacy there. Now Jerry and I have more excuses to ride together–to visit Dia’s dealerships in Arizona!”Barry Matteson
Also, many thanks to Barry for cruising through Winslow again and to Dia for putting her Dreams In Action. We’re looking forward to many more Winslow visits.
“I love that Winslow has enough to offer if you take the time to explore and talk to people. I would love to host rides and bike nights in Winslow and really tie in the cultures of the area and the history of the town and Harleys.”Dia Matteson
Until next time…
Take it easy
Grand Canyon Harley-Davidson Locations
Two full service dealerships:
- I-40 Exit 185
- Bellemont, AZ 86015
- Sun-Mon Closed
- Tue-Sat 9am – 5pm
- 10434 Highway 69
- Mayer, AZ 86333
- Monday Closed
- Tue-Sat 10am – 6pm
- Sun 10am – 6pm
And two retail locations, specializing in apparel and accessories:
- 320 N SR 89A Suite #1
- Sedona, AZ 96336
- Mon-Fri 10AM – 6PM
- Sat-Sun 10AM – 6PM
- 138 S Montezuma
- Prescott, AZ 86303
- Mon-Fri 10AM – 6PM
- Sat-Sun 10AM – 6PM