By Heather Short

In 2007, the city of Lakewood welcomed its newest addition: Lakewood Ford. Since then, the business has been a valuable asset not only for the Lakewood community, but also for the military community.

Lakewood Ford has sponsored several military charitable golf tournaments, such as the Night Stalker and Purple Heart Association tournaments, as well as softball teams and veterans' groups.

"We can never do enough to give back to the military community," said general manager Henry Krebs, a Vietnam veteran.

Working with the military community is important to Lakewood Ford not only through a business aspect, but also on a personal level. A majority of employees are veterans, including Krebs and new car sales manager Ray Ainsworth.

After being approached with an opportunity to help give back to military families during Thanksgiving, Ainsworth and other Lakewood Ford employees purchased several frozen turkeys from a local grocery store. They brought the turkeys to Joint Base Lewis-McChord to be given to families in need. Lakewood Ford has also helped collect items to be placed in care packages for deployed Soldiers.

Harley-Davidsons sound great.

I didn't even have to use the word "motorcycle" to end that last sentence.  You know what I mean.

"Harley-Davidson is an American legend," Julio Valdenegro, the general manager of Northwest Harley-Davidson in Lacey, told me last Saturday afternoon. "And the sound is distinctively American."

Named after and founded by William Harley and brothers Arthur and Walter Davidson, the Milwaukee-based company began in 1901. In 1903, a wooden shed was built in the Davidson's back yard, and by 1904 production output topped out at eight motorcycles annually.

In 1905 Carl Lang, the first Harley-Davidson dealer, sold three Harley-Davidson motorcycles out of the dozen or so built in the shed.

Since then, the brand has flourished, floundered and then reestablished itself as the dominant motorcycle company in the country.

Part of Harley-Davidson's success lies in the quality of its product. The rest of it lies in the attitude of dealerships like Northwest Harley-Davidson.

Located at 8000 Freedom Lane Northeast in Lacey, Northwest Harley-Davidson has established itself as a destination point for local riders.

Billing itself as "The Friendliest Shop on the West Coast," the dealership features a 30,000 square-foot facility that offers its customers sales, service and accessories.

Of particular interest are the 31 models of Harley-Davidsons neatly arranged in the showroom.

"We love the dynamic of the customers who come here," Tina Torfin, guest relations manager and military sales specialist, said.  "We are friendly, welcoming and family-oriented."

The dealership also gives back to the community.