President and CEO
ARI Network Services, Inc.
Roy Olivier doesn’t hesitate when asked to describe his favorite Saturday. An admitted gearhead, Olivier, who once restored cars as a hobby, thrives in an environment that includes plenty of tools and time. So it’s no surprise to learn that a day spent taking apart car and motorcycle parts and putting them back together is time well spent. In fact, it was such tinkering that led to the initial foray into parts lookup systems by Olivier, the current president and CEO of ARI Network Services.
“I was working with a parts and service manual on an old Lotus, and I was thinking ‘There’s got to be a better way to do this.”
I ended up starting a company in 1993, and we produced technical documentation for Lotus cars, as well as a lot of companies in the construction, mining and material handling verticals,” he said.
ARI at one time had shown an interest in purchasing that company, which he later sold to the company that would become Snap-On. “We used to compete with ARI in a few segments,” Olivier said.
After joining ARI in 2006 and becoming the Wisconsin-based company’s CEO in 2008, Olivier has guided the business to being named one of Wisconsin’s top 25 fastest-growing public companies for four of the past five years by The Business Journal in Milwaukee. In addition, ARI in November was granted the purchase of website provider 50 Below’s retail assets in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. That decision was prescient, as Olivier said ARI had been eyeing 50 Below as an acquisition “for some time.” The addition of 50 Below to the company’s lineup more than doubled the size of ARI’s website business and has made websites ARI’s largest source of revenue, which led to a 36 percent increase in revenue in the fiscal quarter-ended Jan. 31, 2013.
Those transactions under Olivier’s leadership led to him being named a 2013 Powersports Business Industry Leader.
What is the biggest opportunity for the industry, and how can the industry take advantage of it?
For me, the biggest opportunity is attracting new potential riders to the industry. My 22-year-old daughter called me last spring and announced that she wanted a motorcycle. At her age, she obviously doesn’t need my permission, but I did strongly encourage her to attend a riding school and purchase the important safety gear. She is very technologically literate and researched bikes, helmets, gloves and jackets online or on her phone and iPad before purchasing one at a local dealership.
To attract younger potential riders who are very tech savvy, dealerships must have a strong presence on social media, in local search results, and on mobile devices (SoLoMo). She picked up a great starter bike, and I suspect she will be a rider and a great customer for the industry, for many, many years.
What has been the biggest challenge in your current position and how have you dealt with it?
The biggest challenge for me has been managing change. We’ve made great progress at ARI moving our culture to one that is focused on People, Rapid Innovation, Initiative, Delivery and Embracing our Customers, or P.R.I.D.E. Moving the company toward that new culture, while integrating new acquisitions like 50 Below and Ready2Ride at the same time, has been a huge challenge. Growing from approximately 100 employees to almost 270 in a short time, with many team members working from remote offices, makes that challenge even tougher. We have tackled the challenge by repeatedly communicating our values and objectives to all members of our team and by recognizing members who exemplify these values. It helps that we have a great team of managers who live those values every day.
What is the best advice that you can give others in the industry?
The best advice I can give to the industry relates to the fantastic emerging best‐of‐breed technologies that can help dealers run their dealerships more efficiently, more profitably, and that help them sell more stuff. There are a lot of offers right now from software companies that are promoting “packages” or “bundles” of technology that are supposed to help dealers be more efficient. That actually goes against the way technology and innovation work today. Our world has evolved to a best-of‐breed approach where software developed to do one or two things exceptionally well — and only those things — simply works better. Many of us have experienced the underwhelming results of these bundles at home. You might get an “ok” TV service, maybe a great Internet connection and a so-so phone connection. If you want to grow your business, then you should focus on buying best-of-breed solutions that are integrated with other best-of-breed solutions. In the long run, it will help you drive up your employees’ adoption of the solutions, help you sell more stuff and improve your dealership’s efficiency and profitability.