The Synchrony Pillars Project set out to celebrate 10 individuals who define what it means to be from a particular place, help elevate their local economies, and foster community pride. Sara Vincent and her team have turned an iconic brand into a vehicle for good.

SARA VINCENT | "THE MOBILIZER"

GOWANDA HARLEY-DAVIDSON | GOWANDA, NY

Sara Vincent has been hooked on motorcycles ever since 8th grade, when she hopped on the back of her father's Harley-Davidson and held on for dear life. "The wind was blowing in my face. It was like, 'this is so cool.' I was young, and it was definitely the coolest thing I had ever done," she says.

After serving in the Army, she realized her longtime hope to work at Gowanda Harley-Davidson in Gowanda, New York. As the store's finance and insurance manager, Vincent helps customers finance their dream bikes and join the worldwide community of Harley-Davidson owners.

"Harley ownership is a brotherhood," she gushes. "It's a community. It's a lifestyle. It's great to help people become part of it."

Gowanda is a small community, and Gowanda Harley-Davidson makes a massive contribution as a destination. By attracting visitors from all over the world and encouraging them to visit other Gowanda establishments, it's become an economic force for the area.

Vincent is also deeply involved in a number of charity and community efforts. Gowanda Harley-Davidson sponsors the Gowanda Food Pantry and a local camp. The company raises money for cancer research, helps local veterans, sponsors a local Little League team, and supports the town's fire departments.

The biggest fundraising effort of the year is a three-day event called "The Happening," featuring bands, stunt shows, and motorcycle displays. Vincent feels like the event's mayor, greeting every attendee she sees, whether it's a familiar face or a newcomer.

For all of its charitable efforts, Gowanda Harley-Davidson was awarded the Spirit of Gowanda Business Award, an annual award recognizing outstanding contributions to the community. What's next for Vincent and Gowanda Harley-Davidson? "Who knows?" she asks. "We love our community and are excited to see what the future may hold."

Published on: Oct 29, 2019