Parts Unlimited’s Greg Blackwell says he believes the powersports industry is remaining strong despite an unsure economy, but he says a lack of early season snowfall has had an affect on business.
“Snow dealers are being very conservative and are taking a ‘wait and see’ attitude,” Blackwell said. “We’re seeing a lot of dealers living hand-to-mouth, ordering what they need and waiting to see what’s going to happen.
“They’re watching their inventories very closely and they’re watching their dollars very closely sometimes too closely, to the point where they don’t have the product on the shelf that’s being asked for.”
Blackwell says Parts’ response is to concentrate on its fill-rates, “because we know when they need it; and they want to be able to order the product and get it the next day.”
To aid in fulfillment, Parts spent 2002 updating its distribution unit by building a new East Coast warehouse in Albany, NY. The warehouse, priced at about $12 million, will have a 280,000 sq. ft. foot print supplying over 1.2 million sq. ft. of space.
“It’ll be an automated four-tier warehouse typical to our other units, and will replace the existing Albany facility, which was built in 1983,” Blackwell said. “We’re already shipping tires from it, and we’ll be moving more product into it as we move into the New Year.”
Parts deals with over 400 vendors and 11,000 retailers, and did about $600 million in sales during 2002.
In August, during his annual presentation to vendors and reps, Fred Fox, Parts’ founder and chairman, said he expects the firm will experience sales growth of about 12% during 2003.
One area Parts hopes to capitalize on in 2003 is the Internet. Currently, according to Fox, 27% of the firm’s dealers are ordering on-line. The number has been growing, however, since the implementation of partsnetweb.com and dragnetweb.com.
“Those two outlets have been an unbelievable tool for us and helped our growth immensely in 2002,” Blackwell says. “Dealers can use these online services to order products, look at their purchase histories, print invoices, look at sales trends, price products and check inventory.”
As far as products are concerned, Blackwell says Parts is pleased with the performance of its new Icon brand of helmets and apparel, and is looking forward to its new relationship with EBC brakes – signed in August.
“Our Thor line also continues to do extremely well, and we’re looking forward to showing new Alpinestars product at Indy in February,” he said.
While Parts boosted its offerings in the sportbike market during 2002 — releasing an increased number of what Blackwell called “trick, bolt-on items” like colored shields, anodized bolt tips and triple clamps, braided brake lines and carbon fiber pieces — the firm’s Drag Specialties unit received extra attention.
“We put a big emphasis on Drag Specialties in 2002, and that will continue into 2003,” Blackwell said. “We brought in a lot of products that we felt were strong in the marketplace that we weren’t carrying, and we’re adding reps that are 100% devoted to Drag Specialties and the V-twin business.”
Expect to see a greater selection of items that will allow consumers to build their own custom cruisers — powerplants by S&S and TP Engineering, frames, suspension components, forward controls, racks, and a number of new chrome bolt-on items.
Copyright 2003 Powersports Business