Feb. 12, 2007 – DOWCO realigns its powersports division

GRAPEVINE, Texas — DOWCO Inc., a vehicle cover and luggage manufacturer, has realigned its powersports division in a move expected to not only result in more new products, but also a broadening of its product line.
Last fall DOWCO divided its powersports division into two segments, one with a focus on the company’s growing OEM business and a separate group focusing on the aftermarket side, according to John Petta, the company’s distributor sales manager. That separation of labor affects the company’s sales, engineering and marketing operations. Employees in those areas can now concentrate on their side of the industry, unlike in the past when they had to divide their attention between OEM or aftermarket business.
“We’ve had a lot of growth through our OEM business,” said Petta, noting DOWCO works with most of the powersports’ major OEMs. Petta also said Deb Drinan and Ken Schweda have done a phenomenal job in assisting DOWCO’s efforts to provide the needed attention to their OEM accounts. “With them having to divide up the country with distributors and OEMs like they were,” Petta said, “it came to a point where it was evident we needed to pay more attention to the distributors.”
Drinan and Schweda will work mostly with OEMs while Petta and newly hired sales representative Matt Martell will work with the distributors on the sales side. The company realignment also ensures an engineer will work full time on designing new products solely for the aftermarket business.
“I’m glad I’m on this side of it because we’re the customer,” Petta said of the difference between DOWCO designing a new product for OEMs and the aftermarket. In the latter case, “we’re the ones who lay out the specs, lay out our desires of what we want as a look and capabilities and everything, whereas with the OEMs, we bid on projects and it’s the customer.” Petta says DOWCO will introduce 19 new products this year. But thanks to the realignment, he predicts that number will increase for 2008.
“It’s a streamlined process now,” he said of DOWCO’s product development for the aftermarket industry. “Our development process is dedicated solely to us so our timelines are easier to keep a hold of and we’re only relying on ourselves.”
As a result, not only are more new products expected, but also an expansion of the product line. Without getting into specifics as to what that will entail, Petta said “there’s very exciting stuff going on at DOWCO.”
Continental Tires Reports Surge in 2006 Sales
The German tire maker reported a vast increase in its U.S. sales in 2006. Greg Reich, Continental’s U.S. sales manager, said last year’s sales were up 77 percent compared to the previous year.
Reich says it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what caused the sales spike, but noted his company’s return to Tucker Rocky was one possible reason. Last year marked the first full year Continental had been with the Texas-based distributor since 1999.
Reich also pointed out that the sales surge could be linked to the company’s continued effort to produce new radial tire lines (Continental has added eight new models since 2000).
“I think it’s a combination of adding Tucker, adding new product lines, increasing our awareness with dealers by doing specials and going into consumer advertising as well,” Reich said, noting the company hadn’t done any consumer magazine advertising in more than 12 years.
Hoping to continue to build on its increasing sales — Continental saw an 18 percent increase in 2005 — the German manufacturer will be unveiling a racing tire at the upcoming Dealer Expo in Indianapolis.
The company also has plans to again offer a special it ran last year with dealers — buy six tires and get one free — that will run this year for a limited time period.
Elka Suspension Develops Custom Distribution System
After a year of negotiations, Elka Suspension and Tucker Rocky have developed a distribution system that will work for both parties, said Peter Demers, Elka’s sales manager.
A typical strategy of having a manufacturer stock a distributor’s warehouse isn’t possible with Elka since the company builds custom pieces based on different specifications, including a rider’s weight and his/her ATV. Because of that, Elka has gone dealer-direct in the United States, by far its largest market.
Demers says under the new plan with Tucker Rocky, the distributor will get the necessary specification information from a dealer and pass it along to Elka’s Montreal facility, where all of the company’s design and manufacturing occurs. Elka will then build the product and ship the completed part to the dealer.
“That way we’re not going to lose the custom part of our business and the customers will be happy at the end,” said Demers, noting the entire process is expected to take two weeks.
Besides figuring out the distribution process, Elka also had to make sure it could handle the expected increase in production. The company not only took steps to quicken its production turnaround, but also added a sales position who will be dedicated to dealing with the new distribution. Initially, Elka will be supplying Tucker Rocky exclusively with suspension parts for the utility segment while continuing to go dealer-direct with its racing parts.
Shark Helmets Expects to Triple Sales in U.S. This Year
The manufacturer of Europe’s top-selling helmet made its first serious push into the United States market last year with Tucker Rocky.
Their campaign started in June, meaning the company came on at a difficult time when many dealers had already committed to that year’s helmet orders. Still, Christophe Miravalls, Shark’s export director, stated that Shark had set sales goals with Tucker Rocky and were on target to meet them for 2006.
Miravalls says expectations are that Shark’s sales will triple in the coming year. “We’ve been selling a lot more road helmets than off-road helmets when we know the off-road market in the U.S. is very big,” he noted.
He expects the gap in off-road vs. on-road sales to narrow this year as the company is introducing its SXR helmet. “With the new model I think we can be more present in both market segments,” he said.
Shark, which will continue to be sold exclusively in the U.S. through Tucker Rocky, also has plans to change its advertising
this year so it can market both the company itself and also its products.
Kansas Manufacturer Develops New Type of ATV Wheel
HiPer, the Kansas manufacturer of racing wheels that are made entirely from injection-molded carbon fiber material, is taking its first step into national distribution with Tucker Rocky.
“We reach a pretty targeted niche and we’re missing a big part of the most casual consumer market that doesn’t know to seek us out and doesn’t see us at the race track,” said Chris Bovis, HiPer’s director of marketing.
HiPer’s wheel, which was developed in conjunction with DuPont, is touted for its strength, light weight and the philosophy that “if a little carbon fiber is good, then a lot is better,” Bovis said.
The company has been building wheels for six years and has seen sales grow 35 percent each year by selling direct to dealers. With Tucker Rocky, Bovis says HiPer is hoping to see its sales growth increase to 45 percent in 2007. To reach that goal, the company has spent the past 10 months marketing its products.
The company will unveil what it calls the world’s first all-carbon fiber ATV wheel at the upcoming Dealer Expo in Indianapolis. Bovis says the product will have a lower price point than the company’s racing wheels.
Bovis also notes that HiPer will begin focusing on the UTV market near the end of 2007. “The UTV market is half of the industry that we don’t even touch right now,” he said.
Teknic Pleased With Change in Distributors
Specialty Sports CEO Chris Hayes says the apparel manufacturer, which is known for its street bike apparel line, is pleased about its switch last year in distributors. In June, Teknic ended its relationship with Global Motorsports Group and started being distributed by Tucker Rocky.
“Everybody is really happy,” Hayes said of the switch. “The shipments have been good. The fill rates are in the 90th percentile. We’re above expectations, both on our side and for Tucker’s side.
“When we were with our former distributor,” Hayes continued, “there were areas where we just didn’t have any representative coverage, such as Colorado, so we lost our exposure in those markets. So now that we have people back on the ground to show our products, handle the dealers’ issues on a daily basis and present our programs, we’re able to get into stores that way. And that’s really the focus for us.”
Hayes says Teknic is also seeking to pick up additional market share in the cruiser apparel side. Three years ago the company introduced a separate catalog and logo for its cruiser line, the Highway Collection. Teknic also has stepped up its advertising in V-twin publications and appeared at the V-Twin Expo in Cincinnati, Ohio, to promote its Highway Collection.
“There’s still a lot room for us to grow in the cruiser segment,” Hayes continued. He notes the company also will pursue more of the freestyle products and continue to work on setting up more dealers across the nation with Teknic, allowing consumers more choices and places to shop and try on their products.
Laeger’s Racing Begins National Distribution
Laeger’s Racing, the Temecula, Calif.-based manufacturer of A-arms, suspensions, steering stems and other ATV products, has announced it will be teaming with Tucker Rocky for use as the company’s first national distributor.
Besides manufacturing ATV parts, Laeger’s Racing is also in the research and development phase with its UTV products. Although Tucker Rocky is the company’s first national distributor, Laeger’s Racing products also are sold through Southern.
The company, which started in 1983, grew out of small shop located behind Mark Laeger’s house. The business prospered after Laeger’s ATV products had success in racing circles. In 2004 Laeger sold the business to Jason Touhy, an engineer in the manufacturing industry, and Scott Taylor, a software consultant.

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