Vice President of Marketing, Motorsports Division
GE Capital, Commercial Distribution Finance
From new manufacturers and dealerships just entering the industry, to those that have been building and selling bikes for 30 years or more, Sam Yourd has had a front-row seat in helping the powersports industry take its shape in the U.S.
But Yourd, vice president of marketing for the Motorsports Division of GE Capital’s Commercial Distribution Finance division, doesn’t merely watch from the sidelines. He maintains a connection with his industry partners by having ridden “just about everything, when it comes to motorcycles and scooters. It’s fun.” In addition, he conducts market analysis and tracks trends in order to bring financing solutions to GE Capital’s partners in the industry.
As the industry continues to work its way out of a phase of slow growth, Yourd has supported GE Capital products that allow wholesalers and retailers to become more successful at their craft. Rather than being simply a financial lender, GE Capital has become a source of intelligence for the powersports industry as dealers build their new and pre-owned inventory through some trying years.
“It’s a fantastic place for me here,” Yourd said. “I love my job, the industry that I work for and the people that I work with, both inside of GE and outside of GE. It’s very stimulating, constantly evolving. I’m touching on relationships that have been with us for 30 years as well as new OEMs that are just emerging with new technology. That’s the exciting part, to see everybody constantly growing, reinventing themselves and moving the industry forward.”
Lately, Yourd has been moving forward afoot rather than by motorcycle. In fact, he’s riding non-motorized vehicles as a triathlete in addition to completing marathons. In addition to the four half-Ironman Triathlon competitions that he’s completed, Yourd has his sights set on competing in the World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. In January, Yourd ran on the GE team that won the marathon at the U.S. Corporate Athletic Association national championship. (“Running is where I’m strongest, but I love the bike.”)
For his support of the industry as it continues to work its way into a more hospitable business climate, Yourd has been selected as a 2013 Powersports Business Industry Leader.
What is the biggest opportunity for the industry, and how can the industry take advantage of it?
In an industry where change is a constant, there are opportunities around every corner. It’s just a matter of deciding where to focus our energies to make sure we deliver on our customers’ needs. In order to do this confidently, we “pulse” customers with calls, surveys and of course personal visits. The power of GE is not only in listening, but engaging our domain and technology expertise to connect the dots to provide actionable data to help OEMs and dealers better manage their inventory. With that in mind, we developed business intelligence tools that can be customized by the user and incorporated into the operating rhythm of the management team. Known as COMS (Customer Online Management System), it provides information like aging, inventory turn and unit carrying cost (accumulated interest, curtailments) for the dealer, and credit line availability and inventory mix for the OEM. Looking ahead, we are continuing to focus on growing our analytics capabilities by utilizing statistics to interpret trends and ultimately to develop forecasting tools.
What has been the biggest challenge in your current position and how have you dealt with it?
Serving a broad spectrum of dealer needs can be a challenge. We’re motivated to innovate, and we’re driven to deliver new products and programs to meet those challenges. OEMs and dealers wanted financing for parts, garments and accessories, so we built a process to accommodate their needs. Dealers wanted to finance their trade-ins and their used inventory, so we created a program that would allow them to do that. In addition, we have created alternative financing programs to help dealers with their auction purchases, so they can conserve their working capital. We even built a Transfer Locator function so a dealer can find the unit his retail customer wants, now. The bottom line is that we have a broad and deep pool of resources to draw upon to meet the needs of the customer. Through feedback and collaboration, we work with our customers to meet their needs and help the industry grow.
What is the best advice that you can give others in the industry?
On a professional level, there are two significant changes I’ve seen. In the consumer channel, demographics are changing so OEMs and dealers have to appeal to a younger audience that’s technology savvy so there’s a need for websites, Facebook pages and Twitter feeds. Behind the scenes, it’s all about big data. What are the hot trends and the top sellers? What are your inventory turns and aging metrics? What are your F&I income and profit margins? Today it would be almost impossible for a dealership to thrive if it didn’t have access to key performance indicators. We are keenly aware of these needs and are responding with new business intelligence tools for a data-driven customer.
On a personal level, I’ve been in the industry for 32 years, and I love it. I make new industry friends every day through my business dealings and personal contacts with other enthusiasts. I think every one of us got into this industry because we love it. My best advice is to keep the passion alive by sharing the fun through the products you sell and the people you meet.