44-50 Balbo Drive
Clarenville, Newfoundland A0E 1J0
Web site under construction
Bruce and Sherry Pike
6,000-sq.-ft. dealership founded in 1998. Building a new, slightly larger facility nearby. Carries Arctic Cat snowmobiles and ATVs; Kawasaki ATVs, motorcycles, and power equipment; and two outboard motor brands — Johnson Evinrude and Mercury. The largest-selling segment is ATV, “but we’ve had some great winters, which have helped with snowmobile sales,” says Bruce Pike. Nine employees.
While Pike says “things are going well; right now we don’t even think about concerns,” he does believe there will come a time that the markets for every powersports segment will be saturated. “Our province is an island. On 50,000 square miles we have half-a-million people, with more than half of that population situated here on the East Coast. More than 600 snowmobiles have been sold in the area this winter.”
At Pike’s peak: Arctic Cat’s Pantera two-up snowmobile. As for ATVs, “the Kawasaki KVF 650 V-twin (known in the USA as the Prairie) is our largest-selling unit. We sell Kawasaki street and dirt motorcycles. We sell more cruisers — Kawi’s Vulcan series — than any other type of motorcycle. The cruiser is targeted to buyers with disposable income, the Baby Boomers and people who had motorcycles years ago and now the family has grown up, the mortgage is behind them, and they can afford a bike. Sportbikes are mostly for the younger set, but a lot of these people just can’t afford to purchase them.”
Pike says the dealership sells more snowmobile parts than other types, “because snowmobiles are subject to a different type of use and abuse. As for accessories, we sell more for ATVs than anything else.”
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
The town of Clarenville includes a hospital and major shopping venues. “We have an oil refinery here and a fabrication site for off-shore, gravity-based, oil-drilling platforms —we built the second-largest in the world,” says Pike. “Newfoundland has substantial oil reserves on the coast. We deal a lot with ‘outport’ communities — 40 little fishing communities with maybe 1,500 people each. They primarily perform seasonal fish-related work, so they have time to use these vehicles. If our customers burn wood as a source of heat, they may use their ATV to retrieve firewood. But to generate income — very few.”
Pike says Newfoundland hasn’t had to face anti-powersports issues. “We’re in a unique situation in Canada. About 10 years ago they closed our railway because it was not feasible to bring items from the mainland on a ferry boat, then on the railway. The railway was turned over to a group known as the Trailway Association, which made it into a cross-province ATV/snowmobile trail. Those sports have become more family-oriented. The club in Clarenville even received a new trail groomer last year.”
PARTS AND SERVICE
Pike’s has three service technicians and one service manager. “We’re a new Arctic Cat dealer — this is our second season,” notes Pike. “They generally hold service schools in Thief River, Minn., but we’re trying to get all the dealers together and fly a trainer from Arctic Cat here. Regarding the other manufacturers, my service technicians have all been to a school. We have two full-time parts clerks, and one full-time salesperson. Both my wife and I wear many hats — sales, parts, service. Wherever we need to fill in.”
WORDS OF ADVICE
“Dealers should work together instead of against one another,” says Pike. “The Honda dealer here and I have such an excellent rapport, it’s phenomenal. You can’t downgrade any customer for what brand they buy. That person is spending their money; it’s their choice.”
As a former OMC rep, Pike realizes that what may work in one area may not in another. “When I started my business, I was well-known. I brought in Kawasaki, which had never been sold here. We were going against well-established dealers with other brands. I couldn’t do anything better than these guys, so I had to do something different. We took the approach of customer service. For example, we give a free service and oil change with every unit we sell.
“Two years after starting with Kawasaki we became the largest ATV dealer in Canada. We’ve won 14 awards with Kawasaki. The product has helped, sure. For the most part, customers understand that we can’t afford to give anything away or we won’t be here next year. They don’t expect something for nothing — but they do want to be treated with respect.”Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2003 Powersports Business