ALL AROUND POWER EQUIPMENT
1746 Memorial Drive
St. Johnsbury, VT 05819
Hudson started a service garage in his home in 1983, then in 1988, went to work for Ide’s Power Equipment. Hudson bought the facility (one hour south of Canada) in 1993. Carries Polaris ATVs, snowmobiles, and Ranger utility vehicles; Yamaha ATVs, snowmobiles, and motorcycles; Cub Cadet tractors; Stihl and Husqvarna power equipment; lawn and garden equipment; and Holland, U.S. Cargo, and Triton trailers. No personal watercraft.“We had our venture with watercraft years ago, but Vermont’s strict laws pretty much shut us down,” says Hudson.
Dealership operates a 4,000-sq.-ft. main store plus 5,200-sq.-ft. warehouse facility, and a snowmobile and equipment rental store directly across the street.
Largest-selling segment is ATV; All Around has been the biggest Polaris ATV dealer in Vermont for the last four years. Named three time as Dealer of the Year by the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers (VAST), and East Coast Dealer of the Year by the International Snowmobile Congress (ISC). 12 employees.
Hudson’s greatest concerns include the economy (“In 21 years I’ve seen it go up and down and up and down”), the OEMs (“A manufacturer comes out with a great product this year and puts you back on top. Next year they don’t, so you’re frustrated”), ATV and snowmobile regulations (“Whether it’s emissions or where we can ride them — Vermont is a liberal state and becoming more so”), and neighboring states.
“We’re 15 miles from the border of New Hampshire, which has no sales tax. 6% on $10,000 is $600, so you can sympathize with customers a bit.” Hudson is also concerned about powersports’ image. “There can be 10 car accidents per day, but one ATV accident makes the front page of the paper.”
“The Polaris Sportsman 500 is the hottest ATV, and the Polaris Ranger, the new 4x4, side-by-side unit, has been very dominant,” says Hudson. “Our customers use it a lot for small farms. Kid’s Yamaha dirtbikes have been really strong; summer 2004 was our first year for those. And Yamaha streetbikes did well. We sold a lot of cruisers. As a new Yamaha dealer we struggled to get product from that OEM.
“In snowmobiles, the new Polaris Fusion hasn’t come off as hot as I’d like, although the new Yamaha Vector has been pretty hot. Right now people are getting into the snowmobile season, so we’re selling studs, carbides, and belts. We have a full line of clothing and stock over 500 helmets.”
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
“Because we sell everything from a push lawn mower to a weed trimmer to a chainsaw to a Polaris Ranger to a $15,000 cruiser, we have a wide clientele,” says Hudson.
“Generally, ATV customers are middle-aged and middle-class. We do a lot of out-of-state business. People in Connecticut and Massachusetts have a second home or just come to ride snowmobiles. We have many young buyers because of the manufacturers’ easy financing programs. At one time we believed we knew who the ‘buying’ customer was. With financing, that’s not the case anymore. When customers finance, they add accessories and extended warranties.”
“Five or six years ago ATV sales went past snowmobile sales,” explains Hudson. “VAST is a great organization that maintains a statewide trail system. But there isn’t the same type of trail system for ATVs. They can’t just use snowmobile trails, which may go through the middle of an unused cornfield, across brooks, or where people put fences up for animals in Summer. The Vermont Association of All-Terrain Vehicles (VAAT) is having a hard time because of activists dead-set against these vehicles.”
PARTS AND SERVICE
All Around’s service department includes four technicians and a writer, and there are two parts salespeople and one who inputs orders. “The last couple of years we have tried to run departments as independent profit centers,” says Hudson. “We’ve been computerized since 1994, but now we’re going to e-commerce.”
WORDS OF ADVICE
“Dealers need to make a profit and not get worked up about the neighboring dealer who’s giving something away,” advises Hudson. “Instead, worry about taking care of the customer and making the profit you need. I hear dealers whine and complain about what the manufacturers are doing. You need to stand up to them a bit, but you’re not going to change a lot, so go with it and do the best you can.”
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