Friday, May 26, 2017

Dave Amchir, Director of "Toys in the Sun Run" dies

David “Dave” Amchir, who oversaw the yearly charity event of bikers riding down South Florida highways with toys strapped on their motorcycles, died Wednesday morning, his friends said.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida (May 24, 2017) — Dave Amchir, who oversaw the yearly charity event of bikers riding down South Florida highways with toys strapped on their motorcycles, died Wednesday morning, his friends said.

Amchir, of Tamarac, had a heart attack. He was 54.

Amchir, whose nickname was “Tattoo Dave,” took over the event in 2006 after his father, the Toys in the Sun Run founder, died from leukemia.

Bob Amchir, the founder of the toy run, in 2001 Photo - Tim Ribar

The fundraising event is billed by organizers as the world's largest motorcycle parade as bikers zip down interstates 95 and 595, which are closed by police. The bikers wind up at a festival of music and food where riders turn in their toy or cash.

Kevin Janser, senior vice president and chief development officer at Memorial Healthcare System, said the money donations contributed to the construction of a new hospital in Hollywood.

 Jacqueline and Alex Villalobos are part of "Los Chuchos" a Colombian Biker Group.
Photo - Anastasia Walsh Infanzon

“He certainly made a lot of difference to us and a lot of children,” he said. “We have kids where that stuffed toy is the only toy they get at Christmas.”

A decade into the charity event, in 1999, the bulk of the toys and cash were directed to the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Foundation, the nonprofit arm of its namesake hospital, for children in need. Since then, the bikers are credited with raising about $4 million in cash to benefit the hospital and the “number of toys is uncountable,” said foundation spokesman Stu Opperman. “Literally there are 1,000 kids every single year who get toys through their effort.”

And “not just at Christmas,” but at holiday parties and other events, he said. Janser said there are so many toys donated, that the hospital often saves them to give out year-round.

Twin sisters, Victoria (L) and Caroline Schmist, from Boco Raton wait for the start of the Toy Run in 2015 Photo- Joe Cavaretta

He described Amchir as a man with a “muscular frame, full of tattoos. He was a wonderful man. He loved Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. He made it known so all the riders, the performers, the sponsors knew why they were involved — they were doing it for the children.”

The annual toy run attracts between 60,000 to 70,000 people each year, both riders and their passengers, Opperman said. It typically starts in north Broward and ends in various locations, usually the south part of the county.

Riders walk through a sea of bikes at the toy run at Markham Park in 2006 Photo-Omar Vega

Dave Amchir’s father was Bob Amchir, a former New York City police officer who ran a business making motorcycle helmets. In 1988, he created the toy run with just 700 participants. His efforts earned him the USA Presidential Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2006, the Humanitarian Award from the town of Davie in 2004 and the Spirit of Healing Award from Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital.

“Motorcycle riders have a bad rap of being bad guys,” Bob Amchir told the Sun Sentinel in 2000. “We strive to help everyone where we can, if it's in our power.”

When his father died, Dave Amchir took over the event with the same enthusiasm.

Dave Amchir was also the national president of the Wings of Gold Motorcycle Club, also a role he inherited after his dad.

Dave Amchir, (M) and his wife, comfort each other during a tribute in 2006 to his father who founded the toy run Photo-Omar Vega

“We’re going to continue to do our charity,” said friend Joey Quinter, the vice president of the local chapter of the Wings of Gold Motorcycle Club, who said the Toys in the Sun Run would continue as planned Dec. 10.

“He always stood for the right thing, never the wrong thing, that you were never taller when you’d bend down to help a child,” he said. “When they made him, they broke the mold.”

Funeral arrangements are pending.

SOURCE: Sun Sentinel

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Harley-Davidson Building Factory in Thailand

Even Harley-Davidson Can’t Resist the Tug of Overseas Factories

Milwaukee, Wisconsin (May 23, 2017) – Harley-Davidson is building a new plant in Thailand, reflecting the industry’s push for global sales growth.

Harley-Davidson Inc.’s plans to operate a motorcycle assembly plant in Thailand are drawing strong criticism from labor unions, although Harley says the plant won’t result in any U.S. job losses.

The Thailand plant is scheduled to open in late 2018, Harley said Tuesday, and it will assemble bikes from components produced at the company’s U.S. facilities.

Milwaukee-based Harley has similar operations in India and Brazil, where complete motorcycles are assembled from kits.

New motorcycles arriving from the United States at a Harley-Davidson showroom in Bangkok. Seeking to avoid high tariffs, the company is planning to build a factory in Thailand.
Luke Duggleby for The New York Times

In India, where big touring motorcycles and cars are saddled with a 100% import tariff, Harley's sales have grown by a brisk 30% in the past two years.

That's largely because the company has been able to get around the tariff by assembling bikes there, something it's done in that country since 2011.
The Thailand tariff on motorcycles assembled in the United States is about 60%, according to Harley.

“By opening this plant, we expect our regional (Asian) operations to help reduce those costs,” said Harley spokeswoman Katie Whitmore.

“There is no intent to reduce Harley-Davidson U.S. manufacturing due to this expansion,” Whitmore said.

“We anticipate an increase in the number of additional U.S.-manufactured components that will be shipped to the Thailand facility,” she added.

Asia is one of Harley’s fastest-growing markets.

But the Thailand plant, and others like it, worries the United Steelworkers.

“Harley-Davidson has been the crown jewel of American manufacturing. Management’s decision to offshore production is a slap in the face to the American worker and to hundreds of thousands of Harley riders across the country,” Steelworkers President Leo Gerard said in a statement.

Harley-Davidson has said it intends to grow its international business 50% by 2027, and that international sales are pivotal to the company’s future.

Harleys shipped from the United States to Bangkok. The Thailand plant will assemble motorcycles for Asia that were previously imported from India or the United States.
Luke Duggleby for The New York Times

But the Steelworkers, which represents employees at the Harley engine operations in Menomonee Falls, says the company should abandon offshoring plans and, instead, expand operations in the U.S.

“Offshoring production is the wrong path to prosperity. It puts in jeopardy the success that has propelled Harley over the years,” Gerard said.

A similar statement came Tuesday from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which also represents employees in Harley's manufacturing plants.

“Harley-Davidson is going overseas and taking American jobs with it. While other companies think about moving work home, Harley-Davidson is doing the opposite. Harley-Davidson is laying off U.S. workers monthly while continuing to hire temporary workers," said IAM President Robert Martinez Jr.

He added: “What part of ‘Made in America’ does Harley-Davidson not understand?”

In April, Harley-Davidson Inc. said it was cutting 118 jobs at its plant in York, Pa., as the company moves the production of all cruiser motorcycles to Kansas City.

The layoffs, which will begin June 23, affect 110 hourly employees represented by the Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

The remainders are salaried employees and contractors.

Harley said the employees were notified in November 2015 that it planned to consolidate the production of Softail cruiser motorcycles at its Kansas City plant starting with the 2018 model year.

The move will create 118 positions in Kansas City, according to the company, and it doesn’t affect employment in Milwaukee.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Sturgis Buffalo Chip®’s 2017 Biker Belles®

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Michael Parks Dies: Then Came Bronson Actor Was 77

Then Came Bronson reflects and drew heavily on the background of Parks' own life story.

Michael Parks, the brooding actor who broke through as television’s first easy rider on Then Came Bronson and resurrected by David Lynch, Quentin Tarantino, and Robert Rodriguez as an icon of Hollywood cool, died on May 9th. He was just 77.

Born April 24, 1940, in Corona, California, Parks held various jobs – fruit-picking, ditch-digging, truck driving and fighting forest fires and married, briefly, at 16 before beginning the acting career that would span six decades. He started with a bit part on the ABC rural sitcom The Real McCoys and was the Biblical (and scantily clad) Adam in John Huston’s 1966 The Bible, and appeared here and there on episodic TV before riding to fame on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle as the title character of NBC’s Then Came Bronson.

Though the show last only one season, Parks made a lasting impression as Jim Bronson, a loner who dropped out of society and onto the “long lonesome highway” – the title of the theme song that Parks himself sang – following the suicide of his best friend (played by Martin Sheen).

The episodic structure allowed Bronson to drop in (and out) of various American lives coast to coast, with new guest stars joining each week’s adventure. Kurt Russell, Penny Marshall, Jack Klugman and folk singer Buffy Sante-Marie were just a few.

Parks’ rendition of “Long Lonesome Highway” was released as a single, and reached Billboard’s Top 20.  A scruffy looking Parks even sang on The Ed Sullivan Show to promote his “Long Lonesome Highway” album.

Parks worked steadily if without major note through the ’70s and ’80s, appearing on The Colbys, The Equalizer and The Return of Josey Wales, also directing the latter, a 1986 feature film sequel to the Clint Eastwood film The Outlaw Josey Wales.

The actor’s career was revitalized with Twin Peaks, the David Lynch sensation in which Parks played the murderous French-Canadian drug-runner Jean Renault. After that, he appeared mostly in feature films, a favorite of the hot ’90s directors who no doubt recalled Bronson.

Over the next decades Parker would appear in Tarantino’s From Dusk till Dawn and Kill Bill films, Django Unchained, the Tarantino/Rodriguez Grindhouse, Kevin Smith’s Red State and Tusk, and Andrew Dominik’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, among others.

His brief teenage marriage to Louise Johnson produced a daughter, and in 1997 Parks married Oriana Parks who, along with son James, survives him. Funeral services are pending.