Charles Gref and the motorcycle is a life story, a family core, a racer’s ambition, and an entrepreneur’s success. The common factors? The passion of a winner, the will to surpass oneself, the thirst for innovation, and now an experience that is only looking to inspire.
Born in Chicoutimi, Canada, in a family whose heart had already been beating for motorcycles since 1947, Charles mounted his first motorcycle at the age of 6, and quickly found his place on the tracks less than four years later. During his career as a racer, which lasted until the 1980s, the young Gref won close to 200 trophies in trial, motocross, enduro, drag, and snowmobile, without counting the provincial and national titles.
In 1979, his family moved to Montreal and continued planting the seeds of what they had started to grow in Chicoutimi: their company, values, and fame. This is how Harley-Davidson Montreal was born on Ste-Catherine Street. The next few years proved to the Grefs their talent, prosperity and business intelligence. In 1984 they opened Moto Internationale, a dealership for Harley-Davidson, Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha, Kawasaki, and BMW. The year 1993 marked a second major milestone, when their business relocated to St-Jacques Street, where it is still situated.
Throughout the years, Charles developed his leadership and management skills, and at the same time he consolidated his knowledge of the market and his expertise. He quickly moved up the business ladder, thanks to his experience, his undergoing continuous training, and his Harley-Davidson and BMW university diplomas. Soon he became co-owner of Moto Internationale, first taking the position of Vice-President, and eventually that of President. In July 2004, Revue Commerce honored him as Builder of the Month, a title he shared with his father, Raymond. The tone was set. More than a retailer, Charles Gref played a key role in the motorcycle businesses. His objective? Innovating and standing out from the competition, with his well-known passion, ambition, and courage. He steadily guided the growth of his business, from retail to online sales, to import and export, to distribution. In 2005, when the Gref family chose to keep only the Harley-Davidson and BMW brands, Charles's entrepreneurial flair led him to prove his managerial courage. Following a $3M investment in 2006, the Harley-Davidson Montreal and the BMW Motorrad Montreal divisions saw the light of day. Charles Gref proved his determination and his winning vision in helping his business develop and establish its reputation in North America. During peak seasons, the company generated sales revenues of more than $33M, sold more than 2700 motorcycles, and had 100 employees a year. The company was at the top of Canada and Quebec sales of motorcycles - many times for Harley-Davidson and other manufacturers, and for 25 years for BMW. In 2018, after 60 years of successful business, the Grefs took an opportunity and passed the torch to Groupe Gabriel Auto. Charles was then President and General Manager of Motos Daytona Inc., comprising Moto Internationale, Harley-Davidson Montreal, and BMW Motorrad Montreal.
Charles Gref is not only an experienced businessman, but also a talented instructor and a truly expert in the field. First in North America to hold 3 diplomas of certified chief instructor on road and off road with BMW Motorrad, he organized the first Canadian GS Challenge in 2007, event which he reiterated every 2 years until 2017. In 2014, he participated in the International GS Trophy as Marshall for BMW Motorrad, experience which led him to cover 4800km in 7 days! In Montreal, at Securite Active, his advance training school dedicated to driving Harley-Davidson and BMW motorcycles, he has offered on road and off road courses since 2006. Until now more than 2000 motorcyclists have benefitted from his experience.
at BMW Motorrad Montreal | Moto Internationale in Montreal, QC.
2006 - Present
of Sécurité Active, teaching off-road and on-road courses.
for BMW Motorrad Canada in Calgary.
2007 - 2017
event organizer, coordinator and judge.
participant alongside with Simon Pavey.
2005 - 2006
from BMW Motorrad Munich in Germany - first in Canada.