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PSB Q&A: Changes in the marketplace seen at Bridgestone

INDIANAPOLIS — Bob Graham, senior manager for Bridgestone’s motorcycle/kart products, discussed the tire manufacturer’s business during the past year and where it has seen increases and decreases.
Graham spoke to Powersports Business from Bridgestone’s booth at Dealer Expo in Indianapolis.

Powersports Business: For Bridgestone, what are the business opportunities that you see in 2009?

Graham: Not just for the Bridgestone, but the industry in general there is a little concern with the economy, and what kind of ramifications that will have on all of us. In our case, 2008 was very strong. I’m talking to a lot of distributors and dealers who did good or did OK but we have inventory, we’ve got committed budgets, advertising, promotions for 2009. Hopefully we’re not all wrong, but we’re not going to participate in the recession. As soon as the weather breaks, people are going to start riding.

PSB: What about the company’s biggest challenges for the coming year?

Graham: If you look at new bike sales, the thing that really, really got hit was motocross bikes. Who’s riding motocross bikes? Young kids, blue-collar workers. I think that segment is hit a little harder. So that’s an area (of concern), but with the shift in the economy, scooters went way up because of the price of gasoline. So there’s a little trade off. We as a manufacturer, and the distributors and the dealers, have to adjust to a change in business. But are there still opportunities out there? Absolutely. So now every month when I check my forecast, I go down and check my scooter tires.

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