55405 29 Palms Highway
Yucca Valley, CA 92284
Hutchins Motorsports was founded in 1982 in high-desert Yucca Valley, 30 minutes north of the resort town of Palm Springs and 22 miles west of the 29 Palms Marine base, from which many combat troops go to Iraq. Hutchins owned several dealerships in Los Angeles, but sold the last one in 1981. He is owner and president of the corporation, and son Chris is vice president and general manager. Carries Harley-Davidson motorcycles plus Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, and Suzuki motorcycles and ATVs (and Honda generators). Not PWC — “too big a headache and no profitability,” says Dick Hutchins. Motorcycle and ATV unit sales are approximately equal. 40 employees.
“The Chinese manufacturers are shipping in many illegal small bikes and ATVs,” says Hutchins, and circumventing the CPSC. “But I understand that a new law will go into effect January 1 and everything will have to meet California’s standards. Three used car lots in town have 10 to 15 of these Chinese imports. People who buy them come into our dealership and say, ‘I need this part,’ and I tell them we don’t sell that brand — to go back to the car dealer. ‘He doesn’t have any parts.’ And I say, ‘Well, that’s why it was so cheap.’ They buy based on price.”
Harley is hottest in the high desert, followed by Honda, then Yamaha, then Kawasaki and Suzuki. “But particular hot models — you can’t say,” notes Hutchins. “We’re so versatile here because we have dirtbike country and touring country, and some people use motorcycles strictly for transportation.”
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
Take a peek into the garage of the average Hutchins customer’s family. “There’ll be a Harley-Davidson touring bike, and the wife may have a smaller Honda or Yamaha touring bike, and the kids have dirtbikes. There may be seven, eight, or nine different vehicles in that one garage,” says Hutchins, who has been in the industry for nearly 60 years. “Powersports is a fun hobby, and most riders stay with it two to three years then buy a boat or go to some other pastime.” Still, Hutchins has a good repeat business — often from the next generation. “I’m pretty well-known throughout southern California, so people come from the L.A. area. They bought a bike in Los Angeles when I was a young salesman in the 1950s, then brought their sons here to Yucca Valley, and now they’re bringing their grandsons.”
“The town of Yucca Valley has passed a pretty strong ordinance regarding the use of dirtbikes on private property,” says Hutchins. “So many new people are moving in that we’re building 300 to 400 new homes per year. People in Los Angeles or Orange County who paid $20,000 years ago for their houses can sell them for $300,000 or $400,000, retire here, and build a beautiful home for $200,000. These people in their 60s, 70s, and 80s have the problem of dirtbikes crossing their private property. We have so much desert area — and it’s only a few riders who cause all the trouble. We’ve printed leaflets on rules and regulations that we give out to everybody who purchases a machine, and we’ve supplied the sheriff’s department with a couple of Honda 650L enduros to get out into the desert and talk to the young people — or cite them.”
PARTS AND SERVICE
Hutchins’ service department includes six technicians and a yard man who delivers bikes. There are six staffers in the parts department. Hutchins has divided his sales, service, and parts folks into Harley and import specialists, “so there’s no problem keeping up with what’s new.”
PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS
The Route 62 Diner, right in the dealership, has six employees. “It’s very, very popular,” says Hutchins. “In fact, it’s crammed full with a waiting line for breakfast right now.” Hutchins advertises on radio and TV, through direct mail, newspaper, and Thunder Press. “We hit everything.”
WORDS OF ADVICE
Hutchins’ words of advice are to the import dealer. “They have probably one of the finest, most dependable products manufactured, yet they don’t know how to sell them and make a profit. They’ve educated themselves and the customer that the buyer doesn’t pay retail, and that they sell at a discount. We make a profit on our products because we sell the customers on how good these machines are. For instance, you can buy a Gold Wing for $200 over net from other dealers 50 miles from here. Then all they’re doing is living off their holdback.” psb
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Copyright 2004 Powersports Business