By Neil Pascale
INDIANAPOLIS — A manufacturer known for its snow plows and its growing ATV accessory lineup is taking an aggressive, all-season marketing approach this year.
Cycle Country, the Milford, Iowa-based manufacturer, is hoping to build off a successful sales year with a “Season Ready” marketing concept. The plan calls for Cycle Country to offer dealers significant, relevant product in each of the four seasons, from plows in the fall and winter to game lifts and gun racks in the spring to mowers and cargo racks in the summer.
“I see our products enabling the dealers to not only survive in this economy but to grow,” said Jeff Tetzlaff, Cycle Country’s CEO.
Tetzlaff started as the CEO nearly a year ago and has focused on intensifying the company’s marketing and sales efforts.
“We stepped up our efforts in sales and marketing, really being aggressive and going out there and getting the business, taking market share from our competitors,” he said in an interview with Powersports Business at Dealer Expo in Indianapolis. “And this year we’re going to continue that emphasis on sales and marketing and providing back to the new products.”
Those efforts helped the company grow its sales volume in its last fiscal year by 23 percent over the previous-year period. Cycle Country did finish its fiscal year in the red — a first for the company — but that was largely a result of severance packages to former executives, Tetzlaff says. “Without those payments, we would have been profitable,” he said.
Not surprisingly, the company’s ATV division sales slowed in its past quarter as consumer spending tightened. Cycle Country’s quarterly financial report also noted a decrease in gross profit as a percentage of revenue. That was mainly attributed to an increase in raw material costs, including steel and other metals. The company did implement a price increase but it noted that it did not pass along the full expense of the increased raw material costs to consumers or its distributors in order to remain competitive and thus maintain or grow its market share.
“My focus is on new products,” Tetzlaff said in discussing his concentration for the coming year. “On providing our customers with products that are just not new but innovative, are sellable by the dealer standpoint and usable from a customer standpoint.
“In addition to the powersports market, we have to provide more use-ability to the lawn and garden market. We have to look outside of our niche industry to extend our capabilities to these other market segments.”
Besides looking to extend its reach, Cycle Country also will be marketing its “Season Ready” campaign to the powersports industry.
“The Season Ready concept really came from looking at how deep Cycle Country was in product categories,” said Curt Hill, Cycle Country’s national accounts manager.
The seasonal concept includes: plows and plow accessories for the “Snow Ready” season; winches, bedrails, bed extenders and baja bars for Trail Ready; three-point hitches, sprayers and spreaders for Work Ready; trailers, hitches and tie downs for Haul Ready; bow and gun racks and game lifts for Hunt Ready; and light watercraft trailers and rod lockers for Fish Ready.
“The one missing link typically has been the hook and bullet category,” Hill said of the accessory lineup for ATVs and UTVs. That changed with several line-up additions, including the ATV/UTV Rod Locker, which carries up to four rods, and a number of hunting accessories.
The marketing concept was kicked off earlier this year.
Copyright 2009 Powersports Business