469 Main Street, Route 219
Limestone, NY 14753
Charlie Krepp and sons Charlie Jr. and Dusty
12,000-sq.-ft. dealership founded in 1991 at present location, one hour south of Buffalo on the Pennsylvania/New York border. The Krepps also own a second retail location that sells accessories and is in a mall. The flagship store carries Polaris ATVs and snowmobiles; the largest-selling segment is ATV. 16 employees, 12 at the main store and four at the mall store.
“One thing we’re always concerned with is if the market becomes flooded,” says Dusty Krepp, “but we try to not think about that too much. It just seems that we sell so many vehicles, and there are only so many people around here. We don’t worry much about trails being closed. In Pennsylvania, they just dropped the mandatory motorcycle helmet law. That may bring more people into riding motorcycles, but helmet sales might go down a bit.”
Hot ATVs at Charlie’s Cycle include the Polaris Sportsman 500 and 700, and the Magnum 330. Krepp estimates ATV customer use is 60% recreational (including hunting), 20% farming, and 20% industrial (including contractors, surveyors, and logging companies).
“In snowmobiles, the Polaris XC 600 SP, 600 Classic, and Supersport 550 are pretty popular,” says Krepp. “In ATV accessories, our key sellers are snowplows and winches. As for parts, we sell a lot of ‘regular’ stuff like brakes, tires, oil filters, belts, chains, and sprockets. In our mall accessory store, helmets are the big seller; including both stores, we sell 3,500 helmets per year. Around Christmastime we’ll sometimes sell 25 to 30 helmets per day. Other hot sellers in our accessory store are riding gear and boots.”
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
“Our average customer is 30 to 40 years old, although actually, there’s a pretty big range,” says Krepp. “The average income is probably $30,000 to $40,000 per year.”
As for customer buying trends, “It has stayed
pretty much the same, just more volume. It’s really stable. ATVs are getting a little more popular since there are more places to ride them. 70% to 80% of our sales are financed because of the favorable interest rates. There are some pretty aggressive financing offers right now — mainly through Polaris, but we deal with six different local banks as well, so we can shop around.”
Neighboring Pennsylvania “has cracked down on registration and insurance, and has closed some trails,” says Krepp.
PARTS AND SERVICE
The dealership has two devoted parts counterpeople, while the service department consists of service manager Charlie Jr., three mechanics, a person who installs accessories at time of sale and performs the free initial service, and one who sets up all new machines, cleans up all used machines, and delivers bikes. “35% to 40% of our vehicle sales are used,” says Krepp.
WORDS OF ADVICE
“My dad has been in this industry since 1971, and opened his own store 20 years after that, so we’ve grown up around it,” says Krepp. “Treat customers with respect. Spend time with them and answer all their questions. Stay interested in what they have to say — really listen to them.
Some dealers just give customers the price and that’s it. Good service keeps them coming back. Whether they’re buying just a small, used machine or a brand-new, $10,000 one, just treat them well. We have a pretty good reputation because of that.”