2010 Corporate Honoree – Black Diamond Harley Davidson

Corporate Honoree for 2010 HerrinFesta Italiana is Black Diamond Harley- Davidson of Marion. Rodney Cabaness and Shad Zimbro, both Sesser natives, own Black Diamond,  listed among the nation’s top-performing Harley-Davidson dealerships. Cabaness and Zimbro are responsible for that familiar roar one hears when driving by their busy parking lot at 2400 Williamson County Parkway. The pair met when Rodney moved in to Shad’s grandparents’ Sesser neighborhood way back in 1977. The two youngsters became fast friends, riding dirt bikes in Sesser and the surrounding area. Their friendship lasted through elementary and high school. They travelled different roads after high school – Rodney enrolled in Rend Lake College in 1988, later graduating from SIU-C. Shad went directly to work after graduation, hiring on at General Tire in Mt. Vernon. Both continued their passions of riding motorcycles, and when they faced the opportunity to go in to business together, they jumped at the chance, purchasing Campbell’s Harley-Davidson in Marion. They renamed the business Black Diamond, after Sesser’s Black Diamond Conference and Marion’s Black Diamond Mine. Black Diamond Harley-Davidson sells motorcycles, of course, but the underlying commodity is a lifestyle – from clothing and toys, to home accessories and bike parts. Their unique advertising campaign has made Black Diamond Harley-Davidson a household name in Southern Illinois.

Shortly after their business partnership began, Shad and Rodney purchased more land to “super-size” their space. The new building behind the dealership includes showroom space as well as facilities for reconditioning trade-ins for resale. Black Diamond has earned a reputation for taking not only motorcycles, but automobiles, trucks, boats, campers and ATV’s for trade-in deals. Recently they even offered their own take on “trade your unwanted gold for cash”, when they accepted old jewelry as down payment on a motorcycle. Block parties, dancing girls, bands and free food are available for the entertainment of prospective buyers and returning customers who just want to hang out with friends. They must be doing something right – in 2009, Marion Chamber of Commerce named Black Diamond the 2009 Business/Industry of the Year.

Shad and Rodney are philanthropists with hearts as big as their 135 foot tall Christmas tree. Every year they join area Kroger stores in an annual poker run for charity. They are involved with the Red Cross for blood drives, they provide $45,000 in scholarships to area community colleges, and their latest charitable cause is the restoration of Bald Knob Cross. Black Diamond’s obvious knack for combining business and recreation drew them to their latest venture, joining Southern Lights Entertainment as a corporate sponsor. SIU Event Services Director Bryan Rives believes their partnership with Black Diamond Harley-Davidson makes perfect sense. “Obviously, Black Diamond has made a huge splash since opening in late 2007…We launched Southern Lights Entertainment early in 2008 and, much like our friends at Black Diamond, our goal is to positively impact the lifestyle of our customers.” Shad and Rodney certainly have a positive impact on the lifestyle of area Harley aficionados, and routinely keep them informed about merchandise and scheduled events by radio and television ads, Twitter and Facebook announcements, and the Black Diamond web site, where they promise that every week-end, winter or summer, there will be a party. For five days in May 2010, they and their loyal followers will be at Herrin’s own party. Look for them in the HerrinFesta Parade on May 29. Here is a hint for recognizing them – they will not be riding in a convertible.