New Louisiana facility assembles mini bikes, go-karts for kids
While a lot of marketing efforts as of late have been focused on the millennial crowd, Monster Moto is already looking ahead and attracting Generation Z to powersports.
Monster Moto has developed a line of mini bikes and go-karts aimed at getting kids away from their phone screens and outside.
Monster Moto was launched in Dallas in 2013. Before developing its first bike, the company contacted 600 small engine repair shops and powersports dealerships to ensure that if someone bought a Monster Moto, they’d have a place to get it repaired.
Then development and production began. After a year of working with Monster Moto’s contract manufacturer in China, the company came out with an 80cc mini bike, an 80cc go-kart and a 250W electric mini bike. The vehicles are unique to Monster Moto in that the engines are exclusive to Monster Moto in North America, and the bikes and go-karts can’t be sold in the U.S. by anyone but Monster Moto.
Knowing the company would have to build a solid foundation before earning space in powersports dealerships, Monster Moto first formed relationships with specialty retailers. Those that have been successful with the units so far include The Home Depot, Sears, Kmart, Ace, True Value and Do It Best, along with farm and fleet stores like Murdock’s, Blain’s, Theisen’s, Atwoods, Rural King and Big R.
CEO Alex Keechle also began calling powersports dealers, inquiring about what Monster Moto needed to do to earn their trust. He found powersports dealers were nostalgic about mini bikes, as many had owned Rupp machines in the past, but they were also brutally honest about how they’ve been burned by imported product in the past.
“Powersports dealers are some of the last group of true independent business people in the U.S.,” Keechle told Powersports Business. “They are true entrepreneurs, so you have to have your stuff together with them.”
Moving to Ruston
Shortly into its life as a company, Monster Moto began considering on-shoring its assembly. The company looked at three primary factors: the North American market for mini bikes and go-karts, projected MSRPs and on-shoring logistics. With the help of UPS, which has assisted with everything from supply chain to shipments to packaging to warehouse layout and more, Monster Moto made the decision in 2014 to bring assembly to the U.S.
“We did a nationwide search, and after narrowing down the location to South Carolina and Louisiana, we selected Louisiana and then specifically Ruston. We opened our doors in June,” Keechle said.
Monster Moto built a 100,000-square-foot facility at the end of an old airport runway in Ruston to house its new assembly operations. With savings coming from bulk parts orders, Monster Moto is able to pay a labor force of 40-60 employees, depending on production needs, without passing extra costs along to consumers.
Parts are now being shipped directly to Ruston, where workers assemble the vehicles using tools like Ingersoll Rand torque wrenches to ensure top quality. Monster Moto tests each engine before it leaves to guarantee that it’s running properly.
“As of January 1, 2017, outside of carryover inventory, all Monster Moto units will be assembled in the U.S., so about 25-30 percent of our sales this year will be assembled-in-the-U.S. products. And outside of carryover inventory from 2016 into 2017, we’re aiming for everything assembled in the U.S. in 2017,” Keechle explained.
Entering the powersports industry
With its assembly moved to the U.S., Monster Moto believes now is the time to approach powersports dealerships.
“Now it’s time to go to that last bastion of independent businesspeople and say, ‘We’ve answered all of your concerns. You can make good margins. We’ve got a great quality product, and it’s assembled here in the U.S.,’” Keechle said.
Monster Moto made its powersports industry debut at AIMExpo in October. There, the company unveiled prototypes of three new models that will join the Monster Moto product lineup in 2017.
The MMB212 is aimed at teens and adults. The mini bike has a 212cc, 7 hp engine that delivers plenty of low-end torque for adults, the company reported. The MMB105 is a 105cc, 3 hp mini bike that sits on the same chassis as Monster Moto’s 80cc bike. And the MME600 is a 600W, 36V electric mini bike that also sits on the 80cc bike’s chassis and offers 40-50 minutes of run time on a single charge.
“We have up-speced products that we believe will give both a higher dollar amount and higher margin for our dealers,” Keechle reported.
Monster Moto says its products will bring incremental sales and solid margins to dealerships, as its typical customers are parents of children who are around 8-12 years old.
One dealer equated having the mini bikes and go-karts in his showroom to having gum and candy bars at the register at a grocery store.
“You go buy a $5,000 bike, and your son or daughter wants a $450 mini bike, do you blink?” Keechle said.
He added, “We also help keep the kids engaged in the showroom, while mom and dad are actually looking at something larger for themselves. So you’ve got something to keep the kids entertained.”
The minimum initial order for dealers is one pallet, which includes nine units.
“Not only do we have a product that offers incremental sales, stays sold, we want to work with our dealers, so — outside of the MOQ (minimum order quantity) of a pallet — there’s no long-term commitment,” Keechle said.
Monster Moto’s vehicles are designed to get kids outside and to help powersports enthusiasts bond with their children over shared experiences. However, they’re also ideal purchases for parents who aren’t riders themselves but have children who are interested in riding.
“It’s attach the handlebars, add the oil and gas and go. It’s that simple. Part of our proposition is we want to demystify powersports. If you can cut your grass and start a lawn mower, then guess what, you can start a Monster Moto,” Keechle said.
However, for kids or parents who want to tinker with the machines, Monster Moto offers instructional videos on its YouTube channel.
“I didn’t grow up a gearhead,” Keechle said. “I didn’t grow up working on engines, but my boys are real interested in that, and so we put videos out there on YouTube on how to lube the centrifugal clutch, or how to make chain or brake adjustments, or how do you change your air filter.”
Monster Moto saw this interest in action about a year ago, when the company set up vehicle workstations at a Boy Scouts of America event at Texas Motor Speedway.
“We were slammed all day long because, while kids love electronics, and mine do, too, put them on a mini bike, and they don’t want to get off, so it’s a great opportunity for us to enable kids and their families to have a common point of bonding.”
So far, the company has seen remarkable success and plans to continue to grow with new product, more dealers, improved sales and likely additional staff in 2017.
“If the  selling season goes right, we’ll be somewhere around 100,000 units in distribution in our life,” Keechle said. “And to show you the growth, about 40,000 of those will happen this year.”