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Harley-Davidson dealer: We've seen 'zero' backlash from Trump tweets, boycott talk

Key Points
  • "Harley-Davidson is unlike any other brand. It's a family," says Harley dealer George Gatto.
  • He says there has been no backlash at his dealerships from boycott calls or Trump's tweets.
  • Gatto doesn't see Harley customers shifting to other brands.
Trump vs. Harley-Davidson: View from the dealerships

Despite talk of a boycott and President Donald Trump's Twitter pressure, there has been no backlash seen at two Harley-Davidson dealerships in the Pittsburgh area, owner George Gatto told CNBC on Tuesday.

"We've seen nothing at all. Zero," he said on "Power Lunch."

And that doesn't come as a surprise, noted Gatto, who owns Gatto Harley-Davidson and Three Rivers Harley-Davidson.

"Harley-Davidson is unlike any other brand. It's a family."

The iconic motorcycle brand, once praised by Trump for being made in America, has come under fire from the president after it said it planned move some of its European market production out of the United States.

Harley blamed the move on retaliatory tariffs from the European Union, which were implemented after the U.S. placed duties on steel and aluminum imports from Europe.

At the time, Trump threatened to tax Harley-Davidson "like never before." On Sunday, he renewed his war of words in a series of Twitter posts that denounced the brand's production plans and appeared to back consumers who have called for a boycott.

On Tuesday, Harley-Davidson CEO Matt Levatich addressed the issue in a memo to employees and dealers.

"There continues to be misinformation circulated in conjunction with this issue," Levatich said.

For one, motorcycles for the U.S. and most international markets "will continue to be made in the United States," he said.

Gatto said he understands where Trump is coming from.

"I get that he wants to see these tariffs reduced," he said. "I also see Harley-Davidson's point where they are going to face $9 million a month in tariffs. I can think of a lot more important things to do with $9 million than send to some foreign government."

The company's bikes were once taxed at 6 percent in Europe, but the new tariffs raised that to 31 percent. Harley-Davidson was already under pressure because of the Trump administration's tariff that levied taxes on steel and aluminum imports.

In his memo on Tuesday, Levatich reiterated the fact that the EU's tariffs would cost Harley-Davidson an estimated $90 million to $100 million on an annualized basis.

Gatto, who also sells names like Honda, Suzuki and Kawasaki, said that despite the political firestorm, he doesn't see customers shifting to other brands.

"Harley-Davidson is Harley-Davidson. It is one of the most recognized brands in the world," he said. "The other brands … there's very little brand loyalty. Harley-Davidson people, they wear it on their arms, they wear it on their chest, they wear it on their clothing."

— CNBC's Angelica LaVito contributed to this report.