Steve Johnson notes that 2002 was a tough year for Tucker Rocky Distributing, but he says the company still posted record sales. “It’s not as good as I thought it would be,” Johnson told Powersports Business magazine recently, “because the first four months we were really on fire and then things slowed down. But, in retrospect, we’ll look back and say it’s one of our best years. Every year, in the last five years, Tucker Rocky has dealt with a major issue. But I just don’t see that in the future.”
Johnson, Tucker’s president and CEO, says he’s more optimistic than ever about the 2003 year for several reasons:
- The inventory position is better than ever to start the season. “We’re bringing in more new and exciting inventory than we’ve ever seen before,” says Johnson. This includes new boots, rims, and air filter products.
Tucker also is developing its own proprietary line of high quality boots and its own line of saddlebags and luggage. “There’s been a real focus on building our brand of product,” he says.
The new products will be promoted heavily at the upcoming Dealer Expo in Indianapolis.
And, says Johnson, the other side of the inventory equation is improving, as well— Tucker has been moving aggressively to get the “sludge” out of its inventory system. Sludge, according to Johnson, is inventory that’s been around more than 12 months. Last year, Tucker was able to reduce the inventory that was in excess of one year by more than 30%. “We’ve made a significant dent in improving the quality of inventory,” he says.
- Vendor relations have also improved, says Johnson. Tucker has worked hard at learning how its vendors operate and what kinds of lead times they need on orders. For example, Johnson lead a group of Tucker managers who went through the Cobra Engineering plant to better understand its processes and procedures.
“Pretty much our senior team met with their senior team. We tried to understand their manufacturing process — how they design and build quality products — and how much lead time they need. We have to know how to schedule so that we can get the right stuff in the right warehouse.”
- Bob Nickell, the founder of Tucker Rocky, who later sold the company to current owner LDI, returned as a consultant in August. “Bob has done a wonderful job of reconnecting Tucker Rocky with manufacturers and teaching me and a lot of people in our company about the industry. For Bob it’s old home week. He’s really done some wonderful things for us in getting us closer to manufacturers and leveraging relationships and knowledge that he’s developed over the years.”
Nickell also is making strides in training Tucker Rocky staffers, says Johnson. “They’ll be able to handle things after he’s gone and after I’m gone. The strength of our team is better than ever.”
- Improved fill rates. This has been a problem in recent years for Tucker Rocky, but Johnson says overall fill rates will be in the mid-90s this year. “We’re pretty close to that now,” he adds.
- New Internet-based project. The new dealer-ordering system is in final development and testing and is expected to be introduced in the first quarter this year.
Johnson emphasizes that the new system is designed to support dealers, not to help Tucker sell to consumers. “We won’t sell direct to consumers,” he emphasizes.
- LDI, Tucker’s parent company, and the board of directors are solidly behind Tucker, says Johnson. LDI has agreed to fund Tucker’s needs so that it can improve and be competitive, he says.
All in all, if the economy doesn’t sink, Johnson sees a good year for Tucker Rocky. “Last year was like the first lap on a MX track,” he says. “We had some incredible highs and hit some lows, but we’re ready for the next lap. A lot of people have been through a full season or two, and the service levels are getting better and better. The processes are getting more refined.
“And the company is starting to hit on all cylinders for the first time in many years.”
Coldwave helps Marshall
Marshall Distributing's Brian McMahon says the recent addition of the Coldwave line of snowmobile apparel should bolster a product area that the firm has been attempting to improve.
“If there was a weak area (in Marshall’s offerings), it would have been in the apparel side of the business,” McMahon told Powersports Business. “In the last three years, we’ve added FLY motocross apparel and GMAX snowmobile apparel, and now with the addition of Coldwave we have quality, selection, inventory, and the service to meet our customers’ needs.”
In 2002, McMahon says, the firm did “excellent” business with Big Gun exhausts for cycles and ATVs — “and we plan on adding more sku’s for 2003.” Ball bearing and seal kits also generated a lot of interest from the distributor’s 5000 dealers, and McMahon says those product categories also will receive more attention in the future.
“To be quite honest, our sales during 2002 were up in every market except snow — which, of course, was affected by the warm winter,” McMahon said.
World of Powersports, Decatur, Ill., has restructured its wholesale parts division to more closely resemble an aftermarket distributor; adding inside and outside sales reps, customer service personnel and relocating to its own co-located facility.
World of Powersports now offers Internet-based parts diagrams, online ordering, a parts quote generator and more. World of Powersports offers genuine OEM parts for Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha, Suzuki, Polaris, Sea-Doo, Ski-Doo, Bombardier ATV, Arctic Cat (Snow & ATV), Cannondale, and Triumph, to non-franchised powersport dealers and repair shops.
More information is available online at www.worldofpowersports.com/oem/ or by phone at 800/548-7218.