Vision and guidance still important to leadership

The announcement of Rob Dingman as the winner of the 2012 Powersports Business Executive of the Year gives us a chance to look at how important his leadership was to the overturning of the lead law ban.

Just like the previous winners of the award, Dingman made his mark within his organization, and within the industry at large. Dingman, president and CEO of the American Motorcyclist Association, will be the first to admit that getting the law right as it relates to youth powersports units was far from a one-person or one-organization operation. But without Dingman’s lobbying experience on Capitol Hill and his ability to provide proper direction to the thousands of grassroots supporters, who knows if kids today could have returned to riding appropriately-sized motorcycles, ATVs and snowmobiles, or if we would have lost a generation of riders.

With Dingman’s foresight, the AMA moved a grassroots coordinator position to Washington, D.C., in 2009 after the position at the AMA’s Ohio headquarters had become vacant. From February 2009 to Aug. 12, 2011, the AMA generated roughly 1 million pieces of communication regarding the lead law to government officials. That’s so folks like you could continue to sell and make bikes for a future generation of outdoor enthusiasts. Allowing powersports to be an option for youngsters is a must — just take a look at a couple ideas from the 2012 Industry Leaders. Along those lines, be sure to read Associate Editor Liz Hochstedler’s story on Strider Sports and learn how your dealership can point the youngest of youngsters into powersports before they can even say the word “soccer.”

The 200 attendees who participated in the AMA’s Family Capitol Hill Climb came from 21 states. It’s thanks to the efforts of Dingman and his AMA team that those youngsters can return to their hometowns, and turn to you as dealers and OEMs for their next purchase.

Looking back and ahead
The Powersports Business staff annually selects an Executive of the Year and four Industry Leaders. We mull over dozens of prospects before honoring outstanding performance by executives throughout the industry, including OEMs, aftermarket manufacturers, distributors and dealers. Award winners are selected based upon their performance for their organization and their contributions to the powersports industry. The PSB staff considers innovation, aggressiveness, business growth and market share gains when considering potential recipients.

This year, we decided to reach out to several past winners of the Executive of the Year Award and asked them to respond to this question: How do you foresee 2012 shaping up in the powersports industry, and what will most impact the direction of the industry this year?

As always, we’re appreciative of them taking the time to provide their insight.

2011 — Scott Wine, CEO, Polaris Industries
“We’re positively surprised by the strength of the industry in the first quarter. We’ve been fighting headwind for some time now, so it’s nice to get a little bit of tailwind. For two years in a row, the powersports industry has done a little better than the overall economy, but I’m not so sure we’ll be able to avoid a summer or fall surprise as we see tax increases. But it’s very encouraging to see the growth right now. With the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and additional tax cuts imposed by the president’s health care plan, we could see another economic drag if those taxes go through. As we get closer to those dates, that may have an impact on our economy and our industry.”

2010 — Jack Snow, CEO, Sheffield Financial
“The powersports industry has already shown positive economic trends for the first quarter this year and looks to continue so long as consumer confidence remains intact. Industry direction is impacted through multiple variables. However, if aggressive retail promotion, adequate wholesale supply and sound dealer support continues, powersports can see significant gains in 2012.”

2009 — Bennett Morgan, President & COO, Polaris Industries
“2012 is looking to be a better year for the powersports industry. Most powersports categories are either growing again or showing real signs of improvement with the notable exception of first quarter snow sales due entirely to weak snow conditions. While we may not see the balance of the year as strong as Q1 we do see in aggregate a growing industry with certain sectors — side-by-side and motorcycles outperforming. Inventory positions seem to be in solid shape overall, and we believe consumer demand will be positive. The broader economy will continue to be the primary driver of additional industry improvement with innovation being the differentiator between winners and losers within the industry.”

2008 — Eric Bondy, named a winner as CEO, KYMCO USA (currently VP Consumer Business, E-Z-Go)    
“I’m quite optimistic about 2012 in the business. There continues to be pent up demand at the consumer level, and companies have invested in new product development that’s creating excitement in the marketplace. We’ve had a nice first quarter with year-over-year sales gains, and we’re extremely excited by what we have to come this spring. We’re eagerly looking forward to getting together with our dealers in May for our 2013 model year introduction. While there continues to be negativity around the rising cost of gasoline, field inventory levels are manageable, dealer sentiment is fantastic, and we know our customers will do everything possible to partake in recreational activities using the products we provide. We really believe we have the opportunity to continue the momentum gained last year.”

2005 — José Boisjoli, CEO, BRP
“We have seen our retail in the U.S. improve in the second half of 2011. Overall, our momentum was better than what we can read on the U.S. economy. For the first quarter of 2012, all product lines had the same momentum with the exception of snowmobile, which was affected by a short winter with minimal snow in many regions. Outside the U.S., all our markets are doing good except in European countries like France, Italy and [the] U.K., where sales are slow. Overall, since last fall, we are pleased with our momentum worldwide.”



One of the intriguing things about this industry is we never know which company or what executive is going to bring the “Wow! factor” next. Here’s to another year of even more outstanding candidates.

Dave McMahon is Senior Editor of Powersports Business. Reach him at or 763/383-4411.


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