Home » Features » Sept. 25, 2006 – Spotlight on the LeMans showcase suppliers

Sept. 25, 2006 – Spotlight on the LeMans showcase suppliers

MADISON, Wis. — The LeMans Corp.’s annual Parts Unlimited and Drag Specialties showcase drew 150 vendors this year, according to company reports.
Here’s a look at news about some of those vendors:
Wiseco, the Ohio manufacturer of pistons, sees its biggest growth potential in Europe, said Ralph Johnston, the company’s director of sales and marketing.
“Before we were staying busy enough here,” Johnston said of the company’s North American sales. Europe, he said, ‘just wasn’t a company focus.”
That’s changed, however, as four-stroke technology has increasingly edged its way into the marketplace. “Four strokes don’t eat pistons” like two-stroke engines, Johnston said, resulting in slower sales in North America. That’s partly why Wiseco has looked beyond its borders, especially to Europe.
“We’ve had somebody internally at Wiseco focus just on the international market,” Johnston said. “So we understand the shipping, the logistics of what it takes to get there.”
Wiseco is selling in several European countries, but is in the process of changing its distribution plan. Previously, Johnston said, Wiseco operated through one distributor per country. Now they’re moving to having at least two per country, hoping the competition between distributors will fuel sales.
Johnston said Wiseco also is working on creating a common price list for the European countries. “In the past, the price list was set up by each distributor, so there was quite a bit of fluctuation,” he said. “We felt our product was outpriced in some markets.”
The U.S. dollar’s reduced value compared to the Euro also is driving Wiseco’s interest overseas. “We feel that’s a strategic advantage for us,” Johnston said. “We should be popular over there.”
Besides Europe, Wiseco also sells its pistons in South America, Africa, Australia and Asia.
The protective gear company will be adding helmets to its lineup starting this winter, said Todd Lentz, EVS’ director of sales.
The helmets, which will come in two models (981 and 985), will have a unique feature — a collarbone protection piece built into the chin bar.
“It was a natural progression for us,” Lentz said of EVS manufacturing helmets. “We knew we were going to do it five years ago.”
The helmets, which have been DOT and Snell approved, will retail for $329 and each model will have its own color wave.
“Keep in mind we didn’t take an existing helmet and put our logo on it,” Lentz said. “A lot of companies do that. A lot of companies don’t want to bite the bullet and buy the molds. We went out and spent the quarter million dollars and bought all molds. Everything we’ve done is from scratch.”
The helmets will feature aramid Kevlar carbon fiberglass composite construction and have a tri-density impact liner, which EVS said will improve safety and reduce weight. The helmets will weigh 3.3 pounds.
The helmets, which took 18 months to develop, will be ready to ship to dealers in December. Contact EVS at 888-873-8423 for further information
PIAA Corp.
The Japanese bulb and light manufacturer has made a concentrated push into the powersports industry the past two years, said Wayne Hughes, the sales manager for the company’s U.S. headquarters, Beaverton, Ore.
PIAA brought its automotive technology to powersports about five years ago, but created a separate business unit specifically for ATVs and motorcycles about two years ago. The company now has a separate powersports catalog and six employees working in the powersports unit in Beaverton.
“We still use some cross reference between the two (auto and powersports industries), but we do plenty of bulbs and lights that are motorcycle and ATV exclusive,” Hughes said.
In fact, the company recently designed a headlight for American IronHorse, which changed the look of its front-end on all of its ’07 models.
Besides bulbs and lamps for ATVs and motorcycles, Hughes said the company could look at developing a headlight in the near future.
“There’s a need for a highly engineered headlight instead of just a run of the mill reflector system, something that’s a little bit more high tech,” he said.
Arlen Ness
Arlen Ness’ partnership with Victory motorcycles has been a huge boon for the California-based company, said Andy May, an account executive for Arlen Ness Motorcycles.
Arlen Ness, which is still best known for its Harley-Davidson products, has two signature bikes with Victory and an assortment of hard parts and accessories.
“Our Victory parts and accessories have taken off dramatically,” May said, noting the company has a 35-page catalog just for Victory. “The owners of Victories are just drooling to do anything to their bikes.”
May said “all summer long we’ve been back-ordered on exhaust pipes. We sold well over 2,000 sets of pipes this summer easy. It’s a huge market potential for us.” psb

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