The distributor of TNG brand scooters, CMSI, Inc., Preston, Wash., was founded approximately 12 years ago as Classic Motorcycle and Sidecar Incorporated to import the Ural brand of motorcycle.
CMSI today offers a line of scooters under its Twist ’n Go brand — also known as TN’ G — and a 250cc motorcycle carrying the Flying Tiger brand. A new line of ATVs will be added soon, and with CMSI’s exclusive licensing of the famous Lambretta brand, a new line of scooters carrying that badge will be available in showrooms in early 2005.
The company started moving scooters four years ago, after giving up the Ural brand. Retailer of choice was Costco.
“We sold one unit through Costco for about two years,” explained Rob Gates, CMSI director of sales. “It was fairly profitable, but then we started seeing about a 27% return rate so we discontinued that relationship.”
CMSI’s next step was the development of a dealer network. In 2003, with 10 dealers, the company began distribution of two scooter models, the 50cc Venice and LS models.
“Then, last year, we introduced two 125cc models and color variations of the Venice and LS, and for ’05 we introduced four new models,” Gates said. “So, we’re gradually growing our product selection, and our dealer base has grown to 182 dealers — about 31 of which are service facilities only, and don’t sell machines.
Gates said the company’s goal is to have 300 dealers by the end of 2005. “I don’t think we’ll attain it, though,” he said. “We’ve actually really become tight on who we sell our product to. We need specific requirements met by our dealers, and they have to be legitimate.”
To assist its dealers, CMSI, in September, signed with Sparta Commercial Services to provide a consumer leasing and financing program for CMSI’s three vehicle brands.
THE NEW LAMBRETTA
In June, CMSI signed an agreement to develop a 250cc automatic scooter with Frank Sanders of Scooter Innovations of the UK.
The model will be badged as a Lambretta for the U.S. market. The Lambretta brand in the United States is controlled by the Kuruahn family of Washingon.
In February, CMSI formed a Lambretta Italia office in Italy to coordinate Italian sourcing and vendor relations. Christopher Sparacino of CRG, SpA, a leader in high-performance karting, led the Lambretta Italia offices.
“Right now we’re at the prototype stage,” Gates said. “We hope to have it in the United States by December, and plan to show it at Indy in February. “Where we are going to manufacture hasn’t been determined.”
The goal with this machine, he said, is to update the classic Lambretta with the technology and quality available today.
“Gathering information provided by industry leaders as well as overwhelming numbers of enthusiasts who have been providing feedback on www.lambrettausa.com has helped us form a picture of what the market is looking for from the re-introduction of the Lambretta,” said Tom Lynott, CMSI President. “Plenty of focus will be placed on performance and handling characteristics with Italian engines, adjustable shocks and disc brakes both front and rear.”