Logan Motorcycle Sales
Route 44 South Omar Road
Logan, W.V. 25601
Mike Ratz has leveraged his business assets by creating some friendly competition between the four powersports dealerships he owns or co-owns in West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky. All are marketed under separate identities and draw in customers from throughout the region. Logan Motorcycle Sales in Logan, W.V., was the first outpost. Ratz’s father Steve opened the dealership in 1961. Keefer’s Powersports is also in Logan. The town serves as a central hub with Route 119 Powersports about a half hour northeast in Danville, W.V., and Hatfield-McCoy Powersports a similar distance to the southwest in Belfry, Ky. Ratz shares ownership in Route 119 Powersports and Keefer’s Powersports with Eddie Keefer. Ratz spent his high school nights and weekends sweeping out the powersports dealership his father started. It was a natural extension of his love for riding, which budded while riding the motorcycle he received when he was 12. Ratz eventually took over Logan Motorcycle Sales from his father and added the other three dealerships since the turn of the century.
Logan Motorcycle Sales carries new and used ATVs, motorcycles and UTVs. E-ton, Honda, KTM and Yamaha products fill its showroom. The dealership is housed in a long, narrow building, which Ratz’s father used to joke was “the longest Honda shop in the world – Guinness World Record.” The family business might continue for several generations to come. Ratz has a son and a grandson who are making their way up the ladder.
West Virginia has not escaped the economic slowdown that has plagued much of the country, and it looks to have a two-fold impact at Logan Motorcycle Sales. Not only will the downturn be detrimental for dealers immediately with slower sales, but even after an upswing, consumers might be slow to return to the industry, Ratz says. Another concern is rider safety legislation. The dealership does a lot of ATV and UTV sales, so Ratz monitors safety issues that come up, especially those related to children. “We want to make sure it’s fair and equal and not just one-sided,” Ratz said.
After a drastic drop in ATV sales during the winter months, they are starting to pick back up again with the arrival of warmer weather, Ratz says. One segment that stayed afloat during the cold season was UTVs. The sector was stable all winter for Logan Motorcycle Sales and might have even seen a slight increase in sales, Ratz says. Yamaha Rhinos are the company’s top sellers. Polaris Ranger models have done well at Ratz’s other dealerships and Kawasaki’s Teryx is coming in strong, he says. “I think the big thing is that it’s passenger friendly and being in the mountains here, it gives you an opportunity to ride together,” Ratz said of UTV popularity. “Plus some people feel it’s possibly safer than an ATV.”
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
Along with a large volume of Internet research before the sale, Logan Motorcycle Sales has been getting a lot of phone shopping, Ratz says. It’s not necessarily that people are looking to order something over the phone, but they are price shopping. If they don’t hear something they like, they might avoid going to the brick and mortar store altogether. “Customers want to get prices and deals over the phone,” Ratz said. “There’s not much of the brand loyalty that we had years ago. Now it seems like they don’t really care.”
PARTS AND SERVICE
The parts and accessories department benefits from the collective buying power of four stores rather than one, Ratz says. Although it can be difficult having four parts managers at times, the group can save money with its distributors through bulk orders. Accessories for UTVs are especially popular at Logan Motorcycle Sales, Ratz says. The service departments welcome riders from outside the area who flock to the many trails there. The company has a policy that if a visitor is in from out of state, they get top priority for service. “They’re here on vacation, so we want them to be riding,” Ratz said. “We do a lot to accommodate tourists. We’ve had them come back and purchase from us or do more service work.”
PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS
Logan Motorcycle Sales is connected. The dealership, along with Ratz’s four other dealerships, has its own Myspace Web page where customers can interact with the dealership daily. It also reaches out to its local community with the 35-foot trailer it fills with parts and accessories for off-road events at the Hatfield-McCoy Trail System and brings along some service personnel as well. The trailer, which the company started taking eight years ago, generates a lot of traffic, Ratz says.
WORDS OF ADVICE
“I think the big thing is this: when times are tough, you go back to basics,” Ratz said. “You’ll get through the tough times, and then you’ll pop right back once you’re out of them.”
Copyright 2008 Powersports Business