701 Tagish Road
Kamloops, BC V2H 1B6
10,000-sq.-ft. dealership founded in 1995; at present location for three years. Carries Arctic Cat snowmobiles and ATVs, and Kawasaki dirtbikes, streetbikes, and ATVs. Largest-selling segment is snowmobile. 10 employees.
While noting that the economy and last Summer’s wildfires in British Columbia were “a bit of a concern,” Hughes says his greatest worry is the weather. “It’s something we’re very dependent upon. Last year wasn’t very good in terms of actual snow. The dealership did quite well, though, since we had a very good product. This year the snow seems to be a lot better.”
The hot sled at Leading Edge is the Arctic Cat King Cat; the best-selling ATV is the Arctic Cat 650 4x4; and the fastest-selling streetbike is Kawasaki’s all-new-for-2004 ZX-10. As for add-ons, “we sell a lot of parts, accessories, and clothing — just everything,” says Hughes.
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
Hughes’s customer base ranges from 20- to 60-year-olds. “Kamloops is a town of 80,000. It’s a very popular vacation area, Summer and Winter, since we’re surrounded by lakes and mountains. About 50% of the ATVs I sell are for recreation — hunting, fishing, and general trail-riding, and the other 50% are for work — farming, ranching, and all kinds of agricultural work.” Customers also use ATVs for surveying and construction. “The ATV market is getting stronger, and it has been for some time,” says Hughes. “The motorcycle market seems to be on an upward spiral, too. Snowmobile sales are staying fairly flat.”
Hughes says there are no anti-powersports issues that are directly impacting the dealership right now.
PARTS AND SERVICE
The Leading Edge parts department includes three counterpeople, and the service department has three technicians and a service manager, all of whom attend Arctic Cat and Kawasaki service schools. What type of background does Hughes want to see when hiring a mechanic? “It depends upon what we’re looking for in that tech. Are we searching for someone to step right in and fill someone’s spot? Or are we looking to gradually train somebody? Most of the time we start training them from the ground up, over the years.”
WORDS OF ADVICE
Hughes believes it is important for a dealer and his staff “to be very knowledgeable about the product and very confident in it, as well.” He says that customers today know more than ever about the powersports vehicles, “so you have to make sure that you know as much or more. The Internet is very powerful tool and has had a huge impact on us--I think, in general, for the good. Customers have much more access to a lot of different products these days, and are more knowledgeable about those products. This has made the whole industry feel a little bit smaller because the customer can do research so much easier.”
— Julie Filatoff