Shortly before LeRoy Cerwinske of Nashua, Iowa, was supposed to leave for a fishing trip to Northern Wisconsin, he was informed to change his direction to Utah.
When Cerwinske, owner of the Polaris dealership LeRoy's Repairs, asked why, he was told he was to receive the American Council of Snowmobile Association's (ACSA) Dealer of the Year award presented at the International Snowmobile Congress (ISC) in Salt Lake City in early June.
“I said, 'You mean I was nominated?' and they said, 'No, you won it.' So of course, I couldn't miss it,” Cerwinske said.
The ACSA Dealer of the Year award honors snowmobile dealers who have made positive contributions to the grassroots of snowmobiling.
Cerwinske has spent all 28 years of his dealerships existence helping out. He's been a member of the Nashua Stumpjumpers snowmobile club, a multi-time officer and a constant club promoter through his shop. He was also instrumental in convincing the county to buy a groomer in the 1970s. “We ran it and started the first trails in this area that were actually groomed.” The county now has approximately 280 miles of trail.
He's committed to bringing newcomers to snowmobiling, and organizes annual rides in Wisconsin for friends and customers. If someone doesn't have a sled, Cerwinske arranges for a loaner, “because it usually means a sale afterward.”
Cerwinske sells approximately 50 snowmobile units annually, and about the same number of ATVs. “We're not a big dealer, we just try to be a good dealer,” he said. “We'll bend over backward and kiss them if we have to to get them to come back. We treat them as good as we can.” That includes an annual open house that has become more of a customer appreciation event.
“Customers shop farther than they used to,” he added. “When we started, we didn't have to worry about people shopping 100 miles away. They do that now.”
The shop is a family affair. Cerwinske's wife Sandra takes care of parts, garments and accessories. “She's putting away parts right now,” he said. “I call her the parts manager. She also takes care of the clothing; we have to have the womens' touch in here.” His youngest son, Kevin, is the mechanic and service manager. He's also shuffled all the nephews through the shop in succession. “As one would graduate, we'd get another,” he said.
CANADIAN DEALER HONORED
Cerwinske wasn't the only dealer honored at the ISC. Arctic Cat dealer C.C. Cycle of Westlock, Alberta, was honored as Outstanding Dealer by the Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations. The dealership, owned by Jim and Claudette Kuster, has been in business for 20 years.
The Kusters are involved with their local snowmobile club, the Pembina Drift Busters, not only with their presence for trail maintenance, but with their time and efforts in fund raising and keeping up with land access issues. They also use their dealership as a place to promote avalanche safety and awareness, conducting clinics and speakers on the subject.
“We're all snowmobilers ourselves,” Claudette Kuster said. “We want to make sure in the future that our children have a place to ride.”
For the Kusters, it also makes good business sense to be involved. “People see that you actually care about their sport and you're not just selling them a machine and then looking for the next guy's money,” Kuster said.
The CCSO honored other snowmobile-related businesses through its awards program. High Mark Products, also of Westlock, was awarded Outstanding Snowmobile-Related Business. The company is owned by Terry Byvank and it makes lightweight seats and backpacks. The District 1 Snowmobile Association in Ontario was honored for its tourism efforts as well as its promotion and development of snowmobiling.
ACSA and CCSO gave out some more personal awards to individuals, families and clubs active in the grassroots side of snowmobiling.
Jan Gordon of Spenser, Mass., was named as ACSA Snowmobiler of the Year. The Kenny and Jeanne Cassavant family, also of Spenser, was named as ACSA Family of the Year.
For the CCSO, the Western Sno-Riders of Newfoundland and Labrador, were named as Outstanding Snowmobile Club. Gerry and Marion McLallen of Nova Scotia was named Outstanding Snowmobile Family; Tyler Armstrong of Ontario was given the Outstanding Youth Contribution; and Dave Acreman of Newfoundland was named Outstanding Snowmobiler.
- Lynn Keillor