Wallingford Equipment Co., Inc. – Auburn, ME – July 26, 2004
July 26, 2004
Filed under Power Profiles
2527 Turner Road
Auburn, ME 04210
15,000-sq.-ft. dealership (9,000-sq.-ft. main building, 6,000-sq.-ft. auxiliary building) founded in 1953. Carries Bombardier ATVs and Ski-Doo snowmobiles, plus Kubota, Stihl, New Holland Construction, and Hyundai Heavy Industries equipment. Sells approximately 200 units annually (ATVs and snowmobiles); largest-selling segment is snowmobile. 14 employees, with more in Winter.
“Winters are shorter and warmer every year, so snowmobiling is getting less and less popular because customers look at the expense versus the use they get,” says Mark Wallingford, president, who joined the dealership in 1977. “The ATV business is going to grow — that’s where the future is — because you can use them nine months out of the year. And if they ever get the trail system set up, that’s what people will want to do. The state of Maine is involved and is working with the clubs. And the governor has an ATV task force to look at all the issues and come up with rules. The idea is to make things work better, because ATV riding brings a lot of money into the state. Snowmobiling brings huge money, but they’re organized on that side.”
“Everyone wants a Rev,” says Wallingford of the hot-selling snowmobile chassis. The hot ATV is the Outlander Max 400 two-passenger. What are folks using their ATVs for? “Everything. A lot of people — small farm owners and homeowners — buy them for work. But many people are getting more into recreational riding and hunting.” His commercial clients tend to go for the large Kubota RTV, “which is like a Polaris Ranger. It’s a four-wheel-drive diesel vehicle that has been really popular.” In PG&A, “we do a big helmet business — HJC and Bombardier.”
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
Wallingford says his clientele is “all over the place. We have racers, because we sponsor a couple of guys who race, and people who just ride their ATVs and snowmobiles more than anything else. There are young guys who like running the Revs and ‘bump riding,’ then the guys who are into touring. All the OEMs have a finance deal, like no money down, no interest, and no payments for 12 months. We finance a lot more than we ever used to because of that.”
“Personal watercraft issues aren’t as bad as they were,” says Wallingford, “but there are a lot of ATV issues. ATV riding is like snowmobiling was back in the late 1960s — growing pains, trying to get clubs organized, and dealing with landowners.”
PARTS AND SERVICE
Wallingford Equipment has two full-time parts salespeople. The platinum-certified Bombardier service center has seven employees.
PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS
Wallingford promotes Wallingford through advertising and an annual open house in the Fall. “Clubs don’t meet here — that’s the only thing we don’t do, because we’re not really set up for that.”
WORDS OF ADVICE
“Buy low, sell high, and be happy,” advises Wallingford. psb
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