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Veteran Kawasaki dealers still making the rounds

By Dave McMahon

I ran into Duff Shelley at the Kawasaki Dealer Business Meeting in Orlando. He’s been in the powersports business for 42 years and currently owns Duff Shelley Mower and Cycle in American Fork, Utah. He didn’t hesitate when I asked him what’s allowed him to stay in the business for more years than I’ve been alive.

“Treat people right,” he said.

No sooner had I finished a conversation with Shelley when Lee Schwartzkopf stopped by to chat. Schwartzkopf knows a little bit more about the business of being a Kawasaki dealer than Shelley — he’s been a Kawi dealer for 43 years at Kawasaki Corner in Scotts Bluff, Neb.

“Kawasaki is all I’ve ever sold,” Schwartzkopf said. “It’s a beautiful brand. Gorgeous bikes. I buy all of the used bikes I can, too. It’s been a tough go the last three years. I come from an agricultural community, and those guys are making money, but they’re holding onto it. They’re afraid. It has to be something special for those guys to buy it and it has to be a good price. Anytime you get over $10,000 on anything, it isn’t working in my area.”

Money makers
One way for dealers to attempt to overcome the “tough go” is via the Powersports Business Nifty 50 contest. For the 13th consecutive year, any supplier of products or services that will be available for dealers to use or sell in 2012 will be eligible for the award. The product must be new or significantly updated to be eligible.

The first 25 winning products will appear in the January issue of Powersports Business, and the second 25 will appear in the February issue. The second deadline for submissions is Friday, Jan. 6. Winners will also be announced online at the new PowersportsBusiness.com.

To participate in the contest, download the form at PowersportsBusiness.com and send it to PSB associate editor Liz Hochstedler at  ehochstedler@powersportsbusiness.com.

Site update
Speaking of the new PowersportsBusiness.com, be sure to check it out if you haven’t already. Trust me, after you see it for the first time, you’ll want to go back time and again, just like you do to your other favorite easy-to-navigate, user-friendly sites. There is no longer a subscription fee for most editorial content. We do, however, offer digital downloads such as the Market Data Book for a fee. Currently we offer the Market Data Books from 2009-11.

You’ll also find stories that have appeared in the magazine, in addition to breaking news, photos, a product showcase, polls, a Profit Xcelerator page, the PSB Insiders blogs and video from events attended by associate editor Liz Hochstedler or me. One of the most popular features in the early weeks of the site’s relaunch has been the list of Most Read stories on the site.

Media mavens
Liz and I have been hounded by media members in recent weeks to provide insight various aspects of the powersports industry. Like yourself, reporters from The New York Times and Minnesota Public Radio know where to turn when the business of powersports is the topic.

Pre-owned tips
You’ll find plenty of pre-owned coverage in this edition. Dealers are aware of the importance of pre-owned to their dealership’s bottom line. But don’t think you need an airline ticket to take advantage of auctions. Also take advantage of online auction opportunities.

Karen Braddy of Manheim Specialty Auctions provides some valuable insight into the auction experience for dealers considering using an auction for the first time.

She also told us how important the powersports market is to Manheim Specialty. Manheim Specialty provides the company with its largest percentage of online sales, at more than 40 percent; auto sales at Manheim account for 32 percent of online sales. Braddy said repos and commercial sales represent about 50 percent of total sales at Manheim Specialty.

Braddy’s assessment of the current market?

“We hit rock bottom and we’re on the way back,” she said. “We’re seeing fewer repos and more dealer sales.”
Manheim Specialty, meanwhile, aims to solidify its market share spot among powersports auctions in 2012. “I anticipate continued growth in motorcycle, and there will be new programs and expanded programs to come.”

Auction data
Read about wholesale price fluctuations month-by-month and the top viewed pre-owned motorcycles and ATVs in 2011 in the 2011 Powersports Business Market Data Book. Digital downloads are available at PowersportsBusiness.com for $49.95.

Dave McMahon is Senior Editor of Powersports Business. Reach him at dmcmahon@powersportsbusiness.com or 763/383-4411. 

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