2310 South US Highway 93
Kalispell, Mont. 59901
Brothers Jeff, Kirk and Vaughn Penrod
The Penrods moved from California to Montana after purchasing a hotel in 1981. At the time, Jeff, the oldest brother, was selling pharmaceuticals, Kirk, the middle brother, was a mechanic, and the youngest brother, Vaughn, was just a year out of high school. The common thread — their passion for powersports. In 1985, they opened a 7,000-sq. ft. powersports shop in Big Fork, Mont. “We worked on everything from cars to chainsaws to keep us busy,” Jeff Penrod said. In 1989, the brothers started selling Arctic Cat snowmobiles. “Then we thought Yahama looks pretty good,” Jeff Penrod said. “They make so many things and have a diverse line.” Despite being told they had little chance at landing a Yahama franchise, the brothers put together a video and an application and sent it to Yahama. They later landed Yahama after the nearest franchise went bankrupt. Since that time, the brothers have moved their business 18 miles away to Kalispell. They first rented a location before building a new, 13,000-sq. ft. store on two acres. Besides Yahama, Penco Adventures also features KTM.
Penrod is concerned with state franchise laws. Montana franchise laws include motorcycles but do not deal with ATVs, snowmobiles or personal watercrafts. Meaning, an OEM could provide a nearby, competing store with an ATV, snowmobile or personal watercraft. “They can just put one across the street and you don’t have a say in it,” Jeff Penrod said. The concern is eased somewhat, Penrod said, because his store is well established in its marketplace. Plus, “Yahama has been super” to deal with, he said. “They’re a great company to work with.” Since Penco Adventures is close to the border, exchange rates with Canada have played a role in the success of his business.
“ATVs are hot,” Jeff Penrod said. What’s been especially hot is the Yahama Rhino, the side-by-side ATV that has a 400-pound capacity bed. “When we first took them on, we were wondering,” Jeff Penrod said, noting the vehicles looked like simple golf carts. But they’ve been anything but dull to consumers. Jeff Penrod thinks the Rhino has done so well because competing models are more utilitarian.
Sport bikes have been a hit with consumers, but Jeff Penrod fears he won’t have enough bikes in the near future. “We don’t know if Yahama will have the product,” he said, noting sport bikes in general “are tough to come by.”
Other market trends
Jeff Penrod has seen a marked improvement by manufacturers to lure in consumers with attractive financing programs. Low or no-interest programs “has really helped us sell product,” he said. Penrod noted Yahama and KTM are “both getting tuned in to making it easy (for the consumer) to buy.”
Parts and service
Penco Adventures carries several parts lines, with Tucker Rocky, Parts Unlimited and Yahama being the biggest vendors. “We do a lot of merchandising,” Jeff Penrod said. That includes motorsports casual clothing, like T-shirts, hats, sweatshirts and jackets. “It’s a growing thing that we’re doing,” he said. “We’re also getting an education. It’s a different deal” than selling vehicles. Jeff Penrod and his brothers have noticed how quickly clothing can become obsolete because of changing styles.
Promotional home runs
Penco Adventures put on a demo day geared at fathers and their young children. After promoting the event through the local media, Penco set up an arena for kids to drive around Yahama and KTM 50ccs. One of the small bikes even had training wheels. Participants had to sign an insurance waiver before riding. “We sold quite a few little bikes,” he said. “You don’t make much, but it’s a lot of fun.”
Words of advice
Jeff Penrod preaches patience to dealers new to the powersports industry. He compares making a profit in the industry to planting crops — the harvest won’t come overnight. “We’re just starting to get over the hump,” he said.
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Penco Adventures – Kalispell, MT – Jan. 23, 2006