Former Grayboy Motorsports in Peoria purchased by Jacksons
Brothers Matthew and Mark Jackson, owners of the Decatur, Ill.-based World of Powersports, recently purchased Grayboy Motorsports in Peoria Heights, resuscitating a dealership that was set to close at the end of September.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for us, and it’s a great opportunity for the Peoria area,” Matthew Jackson told Powersports Business.
The Jacksons sought out the purchase when they learned that owner Sherry Hayes, daughter of former owner Tote Gray, was looking to close Grayboy Motorsports. The Peoria area, which sits less than 90 miles northwest of Decatur, interested the brothers.
“We do have 20 percent of our business from our Decatur store in that Peoria area,” Jackson said.
He arranged a meeting with Hayes, discovered that the dealership had not yet signed any franchise-ending paperwork with the OEMs, and offered to buy the store.
“Sherry thought it was a great idea that her employees would have the opportunity to stay in the business, and she was also happy her clients would have someone to take care of them,” Jackson said.
The brothers took over the dealership in October, and were waiting in mid-October to finalize agreements with Honda and Kawasaki before changing the Peoria location’s name to World of Powersports.
“We do have a management agreement with the dealership, and I am presently running the store and managing it,” Jackson explained.
World of Powersports is retaining all Grayboy employees and plans to add to the staff as well.
“Right now we have 10 people, and it will be our forecast that we will increase the staff to 20-25 people, and that will be spread throughout the dealership — sales, service and administration,” Jackson said.
The brothers are also looking for a larger facility in the area to accommodate more showroom space, parking spots and outdoor space.
“We like exterior showroom space. During the day we like to put 20-30 units outside to draw attention to us,” Jackson explained.
To fill a larger store, the dealership is also looking to add to its three current brands.
“We currently have Honda, Kawasaki and KYMCO, and I can’t really say what we’re pursuing right now, but we are pursuing additional brands to expand the dealership,” Jackson said.
Though buying a dealership while the country is still reeling from recession is a risk, Jackson is confident the economy will pick up. He also found now the best time to buy because his concern was that if the Peoria franchises were shed, they may not be available again in the future.
“Peoria has lost other dealerships and combined other dealerships over the last several years, and with this one closing down, we found we had the opportunity to make it work,” Jackson said.
He and his brother will draw on their lifetime of experience, which began with a motorcycle and bike repair business the duo began in high school and now includes two powersports dealerships, a powersports wholesale parts business and three auto dealerships, to make the Peoria location successful.
“That market is underserved. If someone up there was taking care of those people, nobody would be coming to me [in Decatur], up to Springfield or to the Quad Cities,” Jackson explained.
Customers who regularly shopped at Grayboy, which was well-known as Tote Gray was heavily involved in racing and the community, have already stopped by to visit, and Jackson is confident he and his brothers will be able to count on those people returning as they begin to build their own customer base.
“Those folks over the last three weeks came and met me and shook my hand and were really appreciative that we were staying open,” he said. “It’s nice to know that they’ll continue to get their service work done and buy their bike parts from us.”