Revving up small-town roots: Cox’s Harley-Davidson celebrates 60 years as Asheboro business

Harley Davidson’s from the 60 years Cox’s have been open. Cox’s Harley Davidson celebrates their 60th birthday this weekend in Asheboro. (PJ WARD-BROWN/NORTH STATE JOURNAL)

ASHEBORO – When the late Recil Cox traveled into Asheboro from the country to take a job in textiles, it led to much more.

Now 60 years later, that legacy continues to flourish in what became Cox’s Harley-Davidson of Asheboro.

“You surround yourself with good people,” said Stephen Cox, grandson of the founder. “If these people are good people, you’re going to get everything out of them every single day.”

A 60th anniversary celebration of the business will take place Saturday at the store on N.C. 134 near Pinewood Country Club.

The owner is Jan Cox, daughter of the founder. Her son, Stephen Cox, is the general manager.

It’s a business that has stood the test of time and expanded. The Asheboro store employs about 25 people.

All this because Recil Cox, who grew up on a farm in southeast Randolph County, developed a reputation as a mechanic and could repair motorcycles.

“It just kind of went from there,” Stephen Cox said. “We were known early on as a service dealership because of my grandfather.”

Gary “Poochie” Cox, left, and his father, Recil Cox, founder
of Cox’s Harley-Davidson, are together for this 2005 photo as part of a Relay for Life fundraiser that raised $101,000. (Photo courtesy of the Cox family)

Owning a Harley-Davidson dealership comes with clout and responsibility.

Stephen Cox still has the letter that was sent from the Milwaukee headquarters to Recil Cox, welcoming him as an official Harley -Davidson Motor Co. dealer. It’s dated Sept. 22, 1961.

In part, the letter reads: “Your first year of operation is an important one for you. This is the period in which you establish a solid foundation for the years ahead. Right at the start, it’s desirable that you form good habits and that all of your procedures are correct.”

In the mid-1990s, Recil’s son, Gary “Poochie” Cox took over ownership. He died in 2010, followed by Recil Cox’s death in 2017.

The Cox family added stores in Rock Hill, S.C., and Mansfield, Pa. The Pennsylvania store has been sold, but the Rock Hill location remains under the family’s control and is larger than the Asheboro store.

But the Randolph County store is still considered the headquarters.

Saturday’s celebration is to be tied to Motorcycles for Mammograms, an annual ride and benefit that’s organized by Joy Hicks. It’s a fundraiser that goes to support uninsured women in Randolph County so they can receive mammograms. Hicks, a breast cancer survivor, is business manager for Cox’s Harley-Davidson.  

Also involved with the anniversary will be a motorcycle giveaway, axe throwing, food trucks and other vendors. The headline event will be an afternoon appearance by country music singer Sammy Kershaw, with Cory Luetjen and the Traveling Blues Band serving as the opener.

The Cox family is hoping to meet – and reminisce with — many community members.

“It just felt like now as the time to do it,” Stephen Cox said of the anniversary blowout.

Other than family, Eddie Berry is the longest-serving employee. He has been involved since the 1970s, though he became full-time after retiring from a career in law enforcement. His title is service manager.

Stephen Cox, who lives in Greensboro, said the business has held up strong during the pandemic. He said power-sports goods have been in high demand.

For the Cox family, the business has allowed the family to make connections around the globe. Stephen Cox said there’s pride that this stems from a small-town family.

“It has taken us all over the world because of a little ol’ Asheboro business,” Stephen Cox said. “It has been a good business, a neat business to be in. At the end of the day, it’s the people that make this place run.”

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