Four years ago, the Malaguti brand returned to the United States after a 20-year absence from the market. The last family-owned scooter manufacturers in Italy, Malaguti entered the United States as Malaguti USA through Joel Martin, the Miami-based son and grandson of scooter retailers.
In 2001, Martin successfully launched Malaguti product here via various co-branded marketing campaigns. By 2003, he had built a retail base of 90 dealers and opened a 15,000 sq. ft. distribution center in Doral, Fla. Malaguti’s best-sellers in the United States have been the Yesterday ($2199) and F-12.
While Malaguti continues to see potential in the U.S. scooter market, Martin said he feels most growth will occur in the 49cc category. “What we’re seeing is that people who never had an interest in scooters are making their way into local dealerships and asking about saving money on their daily commute, but the majority won’t spend more than $1,000 on a bike,” Martin told Powersports Business. “Now, we’re facing rising costs in Italy and the fall of the U.S. dollar, so we’re having to adapt.”
For Martin, adapting to the market meant expanding his offerings.
In May, he changed the name of his business from Malaguti USA to Martin Racing Performance, Inc., in the wake of two deals he signed with Sangyang Motor Company (SYM) of Taiwan and Motor Hispania (MH) of Spain. The SYM agreement allows the company to represent the scooter line I Puerto Rico and the Caribbean; the MH deal encompasses the U.S.
In addition to offering the two new brands, MRP also expanded by forming an in-house parts brand and taking on several exclusive racing parts line, including Turbo Kit of Spain, Wan Yang Parts and Polini. He says he now services more than 300 parts clients, 70 to 80 Malaguti retailers, 10 MH dealers and 20 SYM dealers in Puerto Rico.
“Malaguti has been around for 75 years and they want a solid importer,” Martin explained. “We’re still actively promoting Malaguti. I think once the new world-wide motorcycle standards become active, the brand will have a better chance in the US since they will be able to release newer models without having to make a million changes or increase the costs of the units.
“This parts thing is taking off and I think there’s plenty of market for everyone, but I’m not touching the vintage,” Martin said. “I figure Scooterworks is doing a good job on that. They service the Vespa and Stella, and we do the new bikes like MH and Malaguti, and parts for brands like the Vento made by QianJiang in China and the MZ made by CPI in Taiwan.”
Copyright 2004 Powersports Business