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Part of The Club

By By Kate Swanson

BRP global reveal draws crowd, enthusiasm

When I had the opportunity to fly to Nashville, the home of country music and more importantly, the BRP global product reveal, it took me no time to accept the offer. As my first business trip outside of the Midwest with Powersports Business, this experience was definitely one for the books. With approximately 2,300 dealers from 65 different countries, BRP’s semi-annual dealer meeting hosted its largest gathering to date. 

Dealers take the opportunity to demo the new 2016 Sea-Doo Spark in Nashville, Tenn.

Dealers take the opportunity to demo the new 2016 Sea-Doo Spark in Nashville, Tenn.

The BRP product launch took place at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, and the atmosphere added to the anticipation of the unveiling event. In fact, I found myself almost giddy sitting next to other dealers who were trading theories of what vehicles would be released next. During this time, BRP announced three major products in separate segments: A 300-hp engine for three Sea-Doo models, the Can-Am Defender side-by-side and the expansion of the Can-Am Spyder lineup.

Anne Belec, BRP’s senior vice president of Global Brand and Strategy, explained the decision to unveil numerous products at the same release.

“We bring our dealers from all over the world at one time. We wouldn’t have an event for each brand because a lot of the same dealers sell each of our products, so it’s very efficient to do [one event],” she said. “We talk about the novelty, what’s new and what we’re launching, and this time it was three products.”

In addition to the exciting reveal, BRP made quite possibly the most important announcement of the night: For the next four years, BRP is committed to releasing a new model every six months for their dealers.

From the left, BRP CEO Jose Boisjoli and NASCAR drivers Alex Labbé, Jeffrey Earnhardt and Bobby Labonte.

From the left, BRP CEO Jose Boisjoli and NASCAR drivers Alex Labbé, Jeffrey Earnhardt and Bobby Labonte.

David Glassman, owner of Tousley Motorsports in White Bear Lake, Minn., said the new developments will promote positive changes in his dealership and bring BRP to the next level.

“That announcement was the single most important take away from the meeting. Nothing propels a brand forward more than innovation and change,” he said. “New products create excitement and give consumers a reason to replace their current unit. I am confident that [BRP president and CEO] José [Boisjoli] and the BRP team will deliver on that promise with more than just ‘bold new graphics.’”

The majority of dealers were excited about the new plan for model releases, though inventory concerns and consumer demand were listed as possible side effects. Danny Ayala, general manager at Broward Motorsports in Davie, Fla., said that although he feels comfortable BRP will make good on its promise, the consumer response will make all the difference in its success.

“As a dealer I don’t think someone will order as much inventory to carry as long, because they know that something else may be coming out. It really depends on if it’s really going to be six months,” Ayala said. “Inventory management will definitely be something to keep a close eye on.”

From the left, Daytona International Speedway president Joie Chitwood III, Jeffrey Earnhardt and Anne Beléc, senior vice president, BRP Global Brands and Strategy. BRP will serve as the title sponsor for the 150-mile qualifying races for the Daytona 500, the Can-Am Duel at Daytona.

From the left, Daytona International Speedway president Joie Chitwood III, Jeffrey Earnhardt and Anne Beléc, senior vice president, BRP Global Brands and Strategy. BRP will serve as the title sponsor for the 150-mile qualifying races for the Daytona 500, the Can-Am Duel at Daytona.

Can-Am Defender

The most anticipated announcement of the night came from BRP’s decision to enter into the utility side-by-side marketplace with the new Can-Am Defender. Belec shared that it was important for BRP to move into the utility segment in order to continue grow and sell more volume.

“We’ve been in the side-by-side business for several years, and we entered that market in the sport segment initially because this is what we’re known for — for performance and enthusiasm. But really, 60 percent of the side-by-side market is the utility segment. If we want to grow and sell more volume, we need to have a presence in that area,” she said.

A Midwest dealer, Glassman said that it has been a challenge to go head to head with Polaris when it comes to a straight up utility side-by-side, but not anymore.

“While the 300 horsepower Sea-Doo and the touring F3 Spyder were also great additions to the lineup, they take second and third on the podium next to the Defender,” Glassman said. “This is a machine that will bring in fresh customers and provide instant increase in year-round sales.”

Ayala, who had never participated in a demo ride, was floored by the experience he had with the Defender.

“I’m glad that I did it because the terrain that they had and the course they had was phenomenal. It’s nice because you get a really good feel for what the vehicle itself is going to feel like under those conditions rather than in my kind of demo, which would be taking it up and down a parking lot vs. being off-terrain.”

Sea-Doo

Updates to the Sea-Doo line included an impressive new 300-hp model that will help cater to not only enthusiasts, but those who need a more powerful engine when the water gets tough. (See more on this on Page 36.) Belec explained that those who live in coastal areas experience bigger waves, and riders need more power in that type of water as opposed to a freshwater lake. “That’s where the 300-hp can be very useful,” Belec added.

The Advanced Combustion Efficiency (ACE) engine will be included in all three of the new models, which promises to higher performance and added control. I was able to test of the new GTX Limited 300, but nerves prevented me from getting past a lofty 50 mph on the practice course. While the 300-hp was appealing, I found the revamped Sea-Doo Spark to be a personal favorite, especially with the new Key Lime color option. I liked the lightness and easy handling that the Spark offered.

“[The Sea-Doo Spark] has been received really well. The model is still relatively new in the market, so we didn’t really want to change many things,” Belec said. “Just switching some colors to bring a fresh look in the showroom at the dealership and then we have the new version of the iBR [Intelligent Brake Reverse], so that’s the main improvements on the Spark.”

Ayala agreed that the changes made to the Spark will lead to good sales for the dealership. “The Spark is definitely one of the things that we really appreciate now. The fact that the convenience package comes with the iBR is great because it was such a fiasco trying to figure out what came with what. And, obviously the colors now are a little more attractive.”

Glassman and his team also took full advantage of both the Sea-Doo and Defender demo rides offered. “In order to speak honestly about the product, we had to experience it first hand,” he added.

NASCAR

The surprises kept happening even past the first night. On Saturday morning, I boarded a private jet alongside prominent BRP members and NASCAR driver Jeffrey Earnhardt. Upon boarding, I learned that I was flying to Chicagoland Speedway as part of Can-Am’s title sponsorship announcement of the Can-Am Duel at Daytona races. So again, it was a day of firsts. My first time on a private jet, first time meeting a racing legacy and first time at Chicagoland.

Joie Chitwood III, president of the Daytona International Speedway, agreed that Can-Am’s sponsorship will change the way fans experience events at the Speedway. “I can’t think of a better time in terms of the opening of Daytona Rising (a $400 million redevelopment), for a new partner to jump on board with really an iconic race. When people come back in February, they’re going to be blown away.”

Through its association with Kappa, Cyclops Gear and GoFAS Racing, BRP will be the sponsor of the No. 32 Sprint Cup Series race car being driven by Jeffrey Earnhardt and Bobby Labonte. “Both of our organizations, I think, are built on tradition, history, competition and leadership, so this is a really good fit,” Belec said. “BRP and its Can-Am products are synonymous with innovation and performance in the powersports industry, and we feel that it’s a natural fit with NASCAR racers and their fans.”

“The thrilling and unpredictable Can-Am Duel at Daytona will provide a great platform for us and our dealers to promote our products at the world center of racing,” she added.

Jeffrey Earnhardt, who I found out likes hunting and the great outdoors in his free time, was also excited about the partnership.

Assistant editor Kate Swanson rode alongside prominent BRP staff and media to and from Chicagoland Speedway.

Assistant editor Kate Swanson rode alongside prominent BRP staff and media to and from Chicagoland Speedway.

“Can-Am sponsoring the Duals is just going to be an excellent package, and I hope to see this partnership continue to grow and continue to get better,” he said. “To be able to make this step into the Sprint Cup Series is a dream come true. I know I have a long way to go, but with Bobby Labonte being my mentor and co-driver for the No. 32 Can-Am car, it’s going to help me a lot.”

BRP is setting up for a record-breaking 2016, with enhanced product recognition through the NASCAR sponsorship, entering the side-by-side utility segment and promising a commitment to its brand innovation for years to come.

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