If it’s May and the temps are finally rising, the industry must be going fast and furious. It’s no different around the PSB offices, where we’re proud to unveil the 2014 Executive of the Year and Industry Leaders.
It’s always a fun project for managing editor Liz Keener and me to consider dozens of candidates who have caught our eye over the past year. We keep a running tally throughout the year, then gather often as the snow begins to melt — well, when it usually begins to melt — and see which leaders rise to the top.
Speaking of snow, I think I grabbed a seat on the last flight out of Atlanta in February as part of my first-hand Snowmageddon experience. That came at the conclusion of a tremendously insightful trip to Triumph North America headquarters, where CEO Greg Heichelbech told me all he could about his vision for the Triumph brand in particular and motorcycling in general. Whether it’s for reporters, dealers or consumers, Heichelbech is all about all-access, all the time. Just look to his 24/7/365 customer service department for proof (you wouldn’t believe how many calls the customer service department receives on holidays). With that in mind, he provided Liz with gobs of time for our annual Executive of the Year interview, and, in 4,000 words or less, she provides a remarkable read on how and why Heichelbech has gotten to where he is today.
I’ll admit I sat in on part of the interview as well, and enjoyed hearing him refer to so many people who have educated and mentored him along the way, starting at Harley-Davidson. His experiences with colleagues on snowmobile rides and on the bikes themselves left a lasting impression, and it’s one that hopefully more of us can encounter. Dealers file en masse to the Triumph dealer meeting at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham mostly because Heichelbech wants them to come and ride. The slide presentations are kept to a minimum. Instead, he wants dealers to return home talking about the rides.
The all-time PSB Executive of the Year and Industry Leader lineup reads like an All-Star team of sorts, and this year is no different. We’re hugely appreciative of the time these high-level executives and entrepreneurs have afforded us to put the project together. A few were able to oblige despite being out of the country, and all of them are as busy as ever. Even so, they all let us know how appreciative they are not only of their selection, but of the program in general. We think you’ll get a good feel for their industry insights on these pages, but the three questions we ask them in print are only the start. Be sure to go to www.powersportsbusiness.com to read more about their roles in the industry.
PWC takes center stage
Speaking of rather lengthy stories that will make you want to take your copy of PSB and nestle into an airplane seat or other comfortable chair, senior editor Tom Kaiser’s story provides an exhaustive look at the PWC market. Executives from all three major PWC brands were gracious enough to share their market expertise with Tom, and if you sell PWC or are thinking about selling PWC, it’s a must read, too.
Tires and wheels galore
The Tire & Wheel Focus section is another section of this edition that you’ll want to investigate in this edition. We’re proud to unveil more exclusive data from ADP Lightspeed that shows the results of tire sales and installations at more than 1,000 dealerships.
An interviews with Rhett Turpin from ITP and Rick Emmert from Duro provide insight into the expanding role of the side-by-side market in the tire business.
“The side-by-side market has definitely impacted our business,” said Emmert, director of sales and marketing for Duro. “We’ve seen some significant growth year-over-year from 2012 to 2013 in terms of overall units that we’ve put into the market, both on the OE side and the aftermarket side. We’re actually ahead of pace in Q1 2014 compared to 2013 on the powersports side.”
Duro, with headquarters in Taiwan, began its U.S. operations in 1982 and distributes through Tucker Rocky and Parts Unlimited in the U.S. Its tires for vintage and classic bikes has also seen steady growth over the past three years.
Duro’s Power Grip, Frontier, Red Eagle and Buffalo are among its best sellers in the ATV market today. The Power Grip V2, with a rounder profile to assist with steering response and extra puncture protection in the tread and shoulder area, launched at AIMExpo after feedback from both OE and aftermarket customers. Duro is already booked for a return appearance at AIMExpo in October due to the plethora of OE and aftermarket customers in attendance.
“In both the side-by-side and ATV markets, we’ve added a lot of OE fitments the last couple of years,” Emmert said. “We’ve tried to push the envelope with our aftermarket products, trying to push them into the OE segment, with a little bit of success.”
Duro’s custom, or ODM (original design manufacturer) business, has provided consistent growth.
“We do a very good job of custom building a Duro-branded tire for the OEM, almost like custom-spec’d,” Emmert said. “They’ve been open to that idea and we’ve done that in the past, but it’s a gamble that OEMs are either willing to take, or they’re not. They have some aftermarket parts and accessories departments that they’re looking out for as well.”
Dealers, meanwhile, are attracted to Duro for its high quality tires that offer lower price points than other premium brands.
“OEMs are looking to us and asking us to either expand our reach or to get onto new machines or expand our fitments with them, and they wouldn’t be asking us if we didn’t offer high value and high quality. And that translates well to the aftermarket, it’s a just a matter of getting the brand awareness out there.”
More mobile bike views than ever
We’re also proud to unveil in this issue data shared by CycleTrader.com that relates to annual visits to the company’s website. And while you’ll likely find those numbers astounding, there’s another that CycleTrader president Jack Webber offered that’s might need just as much of your attention. Visits to CycleTrader.com via smartphone or tablet comprised just 15 percent of total visits in 2012. Today that number has soared to 45 percent. Is your dealership prepared for the continual rise of mobile usage?
Dave McMahon is editor in chief of Powersports Business. Contact him at 763/383-4411 or email@example.com.