By Ron "Grott" Grottanelli, Owner
The Hog Farm of West Seneca, New York was established in 1969, out of necessity between franchised dealers not having bike parts available. Also, some dealers did not want to work on the custom bikes of, or see long haired tattooed bikers in their showroom. If we called our bikes "Hogs" in some dealerships we would have been thrown out!
In the late 60's & early 70's Milwaukee H.D. Motor Co. wasn't doing so well. In 1969 I started my shop, and the Motor Co. was selling theirs. AMF came into the picture and put much needed money into the plant. Things were updated, but it seemed that quality slid backwards.
H.D. lost some respect from the people, but this did not affect custom bike builders. We were still there, riding the most unique bikes of all makes and models. With fancy paint, long front ends and lots of chrome - and in no means were these bikes genuine - we called our masterpieces "Hogs."
Due to the demand for custom parts, custom shops were springing up everywhere. I then diverted myself from the mainstream H.D. rider. I built a strong relationship and respect with Chopper Club people by working on all makes & models that H.D. pushed away.
What had started to be a small business in a basement that handled bike parts has now become one of the largest selections of inventory parts & accessories in Western New York. We specialize in any bike from the early 1900's to present. Whatever you want, we can do it, from Mild to Wild!
The Hog Farm has nationwide swap meets with 10 (10 x 10) areas with 1/2 of them filled with jewelry, mugs, ashtrays, American-Made leather jackets, chaps, gloves, purses, saddlebags, pouches, and all kinds of good shit! Our products include everything from personalized Unauthorized Hog Farm T-shirts, tank tops, long sleeve flame T-shirts, sweatshirts, sweatpants, shorts, hats, koolies, kids T-shirts, to Hog Trivia. We have a Board Game which we created, with hundreds of questions for riding enthusiasts. It is carried by aftermarket distributors throughout the country.
Our 1st Edition Hog Form Defense Fund Bank (ERTL 1923 Chevy) is a limited edition of 1250. Our 2nd Edition, the 25th Anniversary Model, a (ERTL 1929 Hotrod Ford) is a limited edition of 1250, with our 25th Anniversary T-shirts.
The other 1/2 areas are filled with the latest technology of high performance parts, out in the market world. There are all kinds of bolt on chrome do dads, seats, and lots more.
People ask us if we have a catalog, and we tell them it would be too big! We ask, "What do you need?" If we don't have if in stock, will get it for you! Through distributors such as Sifton, CCI, Drag Specialties, Kuryakyn, Arlen Ness, Rivera, Mustang, Bang, Crane, Mac, Corbin, S&S, Russell, etc. Used parts from these distributors too!
Remembering .... my shops in the Western New York towns of Jamestown, Collins, Woodlawn and Hamburg during the 60s & 70s .... memories of when working on motorcycles was fun! I'd close the shop and get on my bike to go swimming when the temp got to be 80, or go off to participate in any motorcycle function .... like hill climbing at Barrier Farms, drag racing at Lancaster, dirt drag racing at Farnham .... anything - just ride!
I got a shot with the Buffalo Bill in 1974, short lived due to a knee injury. I went into World Football with the Charlotte Hornets, and Semi-Pro with the Gemini's .... but with all this, I never let go of my motorcycle business. During the fall I did odd jobs, like painting houses, working the loading docks in subzero snowy weather .... and rode my bike to get there. This was all to keep things rolling!
By 1977, my 2nd time in Hamburg, New York, I decided to give my business my undivided attention. Things started to build quickly, specializing mostly in Knuckleheads & Pans, which most franchised dealers want nothing to do with. We also specialized in Shovels and Sporties. We did jobs on Honda's, Triumphs and BSA, and whatever we could do for the customers. Free time was a thing of the past.
Then one day we got a letter from our so-called big brother (H-D), regarding our ads and the Hog Farm T-shirts. Our logo was a top rocker with "The Hog Farm" in it, and the Harley-Davidson name on the front. The letter said please remove the Harley-Davidson name. H-D wanted no association with The Hog Farm name.
Okay - no problem. In its place we put American-Made, and altered the Bar & Shield, with the bottom rocker stating "Unauthorized Dealer." We didn't want anyone out there to get confused that we were an authorized dealer. Everything then was cool, or so we thought, 20 or more years ago.
By 1980 expansion was greatly needed. We moved to Eden, New York, into a large International Harvester building that was no longer in use. The early 80's were good to us, but something was missing. We decided that Western New York needed a promoter to promote motorcycle functions, so we volunteered. We started off doing a Motorcycle Show, which has now developed into The Buffalo International Dealer & Custom Motorcycle Show for all makes & models. Proceeds go to needy charities.
Now our events include two Spring Swap meets in March, one in Hamburg and one in Rochester, New York. We have a Christmas Swap meet also, to get everyone in the Christmas Spirit with old & new friends during the winter. Our swap meets are fun yet business-minded.
Our campouts are just for fun, no business intended. The Hog Holiday is in July. The Hog Labor Day Holiday is in September, which now has developed into one Big Hog Labor Day Holiday Weekend Party! Three days of non-stop partying, #1 bands, a rodeo, prizes and a tailgate party to watch our Buffalo Bills on a big screen T.V.
In the 80's, a star was born! I got a part in the natural with Robert Redford. I got $25.00 a day, and my 1914 Silent Grey Fellow got $125.00 a day!
In 1983 the demand for motorcycle parts brought us to our next move! A growing request for me to bring motorcycle parts into the city, inspired me to look for a new location closer to Buffalo. That's when we found our present location of 17 years. Its easy access is hard to beat. When you walk into our shop, if you don't see what you need, please ask. We've had a great demand on used bikes, but our policy is "Only if it stays in America." We will not sell or ship a bike overseas - that's one less bike in America to service.
Since 1983, we have been promoting four to five Motorcycle Dirt Drags, (spring, summer, and fall), for all makes and models. Run what you bring. We've had anywhere from thirty to sixty-five racers, $1000 contingency prize money.
The 90's have brought us a new event, a Biker Cruise. This idea transpired from the cold winter months of January or February, when were all bored and freezing our asses off. We get at least 50 or so people together, and off we go to the tropics to enjoy the sunshine and drink Bahama Mama's.
As in most businesses there are ups and downs. During the Hog Farm downs we have done MC swap meets, especially during the fall when things slow down - sometimes every weekend throughout the country. Swaps are lots of work, lots of long hours, pack, unpack, pack, back on the road, and back in time to open the shop. And then doing it all over again the next weekend. Some people think we're nuts, but during those slow, cold winter months, swap meets have been lifesavers.
If you had told me 25 years ago that I would be in a legal battle with Harley Davidson over the name "Hog", I would have said, "Yeah, and you will have to pay for T.V. too!" So here we are with cable TV, and H-D and I are going head to head over a name they wanted nothing to do with, or the chopper riders who called their bikes "Hogs."
Till The Ever Loving End & Then Some,
The Hog Farm of New York Celebrated Their 40th Anniversary 1969-2009.
Bikes Built by The Hog Farm:
721 Mineral Springs Road