OPINION – There’s little to share but a lot to like

This is a dangerous confession. Even as I write this, I’m subconsciously asking myself, “Isn’t there another way? Can’t you focus on something else? Puh-leeeze?”
And the simple answer is, yes, I could write about something other than Indian Motorcycle Company. After all, as we look forward to hopefully another prosperous powersports year in 2007, there’s a ton of interesting questions to ask. Can small motorcycle OEMs like Ducati North America and Victory string together another year of double-digit growth? Can UTVs continue their rapid sales growth? Will ATV sales rebound?
There are so many interesting questions, but none of them truly rivals the biggest question of all — what can we expect from a relaunched Indian Motorcycle Co.?
My answer: I don’t know. And what’s worse: I really, truly believe that’s a good thing.
And that’s why I sit here with a finger precariously poised over the delete key. See, the worst thing for the editor of any trade magazine is to stand before his readership, put his hands up in defeat and shrug his shoulders when asked a simple question about an intriguing company.
Reader: “So have you talked with the new owners of Indian?”
Editor: “Yes, for quite some time the other day.”
Reader: “And what do you think?”
That’s when my babbling would begin, and it would eventually end with you, the reader, knowing a little more than you knew before, but hardly enough to be able to make a decision about whether that OEM fits into your future.
And really, I think that’s a great thing.
See, this industry is so entrenched with The Sales Pitch that any communication that doesn’t include “best in its class” or “highest quality” seems foreign. That’s really not all that surprising considering powersports is primarily a need rather than a want, more passion than prudence.
But that’s not the case, at least so far, with Indian’s owner, Stellican Ltd., and more specifically, Stellican’s Managing Director Stephen Julius.
Julius is not making any grand promises or sales pitches. In fact, what Julius is willing to say about the relaunch is, well, pretty ho-hum. And that’s what so great: The last thing dealers and inevitably consumers need is some grand vision of what the reborn Indian will be. The potential already exists. What it needs is the financial stability and the attention to detail that its predecessor lacked.
And that’s what seems to be happening now. Julius has made a conscious effort to spend his company’s resources on developing the product — the company’s only employees thus far are engineers — rather than The Sales Pitch. And that’s not easy considering the overwhelming curiosity this brand generates.
And Julius is well aware of this. He is sincere when he points out “the huge opportunity” Stellican has with Indian, and only moments later admits the anxiety in such an undertaking, the fear that “we’ll get lost in the opportunity.”
Most of the anxiety that goes in relaunching such a brand is living up to the interest from the public, not to mention the media. Julius said he has received interest from thousands of people wanting to know more about the new Indian Motorcycle Co.
Actually, he said “thousands of thousands of thousands.” That’s a lot of consumers, not to mention dealers, who thus far have been kept, albeit politely, on the sidelines.
“This industry has been littered with people who have talked too much and did too little,” Julius said. “We’re very mindful of that. Indian was not a happy ending. We’ve got to go, as the Italians say, with our feet firmly planted on the ground.”
And their minds firmly focused on developing a premium product, rather than a premium sales pitch. That can wait. We can wait.
For awhile. psb
Neil Pascale is editor of Powersports Business. Contact him at or at 763-383-4422.

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