Jim Kersting: An American Dream

Wikipedia defines the American Dream as a “national ethos of the United States, the set of ideals (Democracy, Rights, Liberty, Opportunity, and Equality) in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, and an upward social mobility for the family and children, achieved through hard work in a society with few barriers. In the definition of the American Dream by James Truslow Adams in 1931, ‘life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.’”

The story of Jim Kersting encapsulates his rise from the cornfields of northern Indiana in the 1940s to becoming a successful entrepreneur in the motorcycle business and founder of his amazing World of Motorcycles Museum that included the involvement and hard work of his immediate family along the way. Celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of his Harley-Davidson dealership in 2012, Jim and his family exuded pride in all they had built and continue to operate in the same rural location where his combination home and mechanic workshop sat just after he returned from the army and was married in the early 1960s.

But an American Dream is a rarity, and Jim has certainly earned the moniker through the steady application of his mechanical skills, hard work ethic, Christian morals, risk, and reinvestments through the difficult early years after opening his business. His close friends and family speak about his staunch reputation for honesty and integrity. Jim himself describes how his early education and strong competitive instincts formed the self-confidence and motivation to build a foundation for his business to thrive upon. Customers who spoke to the friends and family about their satisfaction with Jim’s style of service and selling his high-quality motorcycles, parts, and products added to his bottom line increasingly for decades. Jim's childhood lessons, Army days, various jobs, marriage, children, business start-ups, challenges, and faith are all examined to find out what he did along the way to become a successful, true American Dream.


--David Johnson