Dealership, online parts retailer both find success
The OEM and aftermarket parts business is riding an upward trend in southwest Georgia.
“We can’t expand our warehouse quick enough,” is how Martin Polo, CEO of Powersports Plus, LLC, which owns the Powersports Plus retail store in Albany, Ga., as well as its sister store, online retailer Partzilla, describes the current business environment. “Yes, the OE parts business is booming.”
The two separate locations in Albany are doing exceptional business these days. Principal and Partzilla founder Tom D’Azevedo hired Polo first as a consultant in 2010 for his marine outboard engine and powersports parts business, then got Polo on board for good after seeing continued strength in the market.
“The online parts business started booming, and Tom turned to me more for my ability to grow the transaction volume,” Polo said.
The 18,000-square-foot dealership, purchased Polo’s three years ago, was his introduction to retailing powersports units. The lineup includes Honda, Kawasaki, Polaris and Yamaha.
The following year, Partzilla was launched and there’s been solid business performances ever since in Albany.
“The dealership has had double-digit growth every year since we’ve had it. It was in pretty bad shape when we bought it, so it grew exponentially in the beginning,” Polo said. “Of course we knew not to expect that kind of growth every year, but we plan to have pretty big growth over the next few years.”
Meanwhile, down the road at the 50,000 square-foot Partzilla warehouse, expansion is abundant. Following the construction of a mezzanine, another growth phase is expected this fall.
“It will allow us to increase by about 70 percent on the transaction level,” Polo said.
The marine business is run out of the same facility, and Polo said the company is considering other industries “where we can capitalize on our expertise and pick up without a lot of cost. We have been in the dealership business about 13 years now. We’ve had an Internet presence in the marine outboard segment from an OE perspective for 10 years now. That’s given us quick acceleration into the powersports. There wasn’t much of a learning curve.”
A total of 100 warehouse and call center employees during the offseason ramps up considerably during the riding season, when Partzilla’s business grows by about 50 percent.
Partzilla sees the bulk of its business from independents or repair shops that don’t have a source for OE parts.
“We’re a good fit for them,” Polo said. “We stock 70-75 percent of all the active parts, and that’s very uncommon. We offer free delivery for orders above $200, and we do a lot of business in that range. We have an extensive amount of product in stock. If the OE is in backorder situation, there’s a good chance that we might have the product.”
The OEM parts sales success in the marine business has brought similar growth in powerports.
“Based on the little bit of experience we had in the marine segment, and also based on the climate that we’re seeing a lot more repairs going on than new purchases,” Polo said. “The timing for that was right, and I think that trend is going to be strong as well as the amount of people adopting the Internet for their purchases.”
Powersports Plus is already a Kawasaki Ichiban dealer, and Yamaha’s 5-Star status is within reach, Polo said.
“We have expertise in the dealer environment, and that translates into the OEM parts market,” he said. “You’ve got to sell the units, and we’ve done a good job of that. That’s really the crux of maintaining your relationship with the manufacturers, is to continue to sell the product all the way around.”