By Neil Pascale
FORT WORTH, Texas — The first-quarter slowdown that hit large sectors of the industry did not extend to national distributor Tucker Rocky.
Officials at the company’s National Sales Meeting & Vendor Expo said their overall business growth continues, just as it has in recent years.
But a random sampling of at least a quarter of the more than 80 suppliers on hand at the event revealed the slowdown did reach portions of the aftermarket as most manufacturers reported either flat or reduced first-quarter sales.
There were definite exceptions, including companies that make products that get worn with continued use, like tires and grips.
But other manufacturers at the event — most of which were off-road related — reported decreased consumer spending for high-end products. Brett Snider of White Brothers said motocross consumers this year are “definitely limiting their amount of aftermarket dollars.”
Steve Johnson, president of Tucker Rocky, said the company has heard plenty of “doom and gloom” regarding this year’s industry sales, including that some “dealers are cautious” in their aftermarket spending. But he said in a press conference that Tucker Rocky “continues on the growth path.
“We’re doing very, very well,” he said.
In fact, the Fort Worth-based distributor is actually doing better this year with its ATV aftermarket sales than in 2006, said Glen Urquhart, Tucker Rocky’s ATV segment director.
“We’re growing at a faster rate in year-to-date 2007 than we ended ’06,” Urquhart told Powersports Business.
Part of what’s driving growth, company officials say, is Tucker Rocky’s ability to increase its portfolio of suppliers, including in its quad segment.
Dallas-area dealers and Tucker Rocky’s sales reps saw several new ATV and UTV suppliers at the event, held June 8-10. Among those new suppliers were Tire Balls, a company that uses an air cell system rather than traditional inner tubes to inflate wheels; TJD Fabrications, a track system manufacturer; and Motoworks, an exhaust system supplier that previously sold systems to other companies but has decided to sell its own labeled product.
“I think we’ve hit some big targets with the products that we have added since last June,” Urquhart said, noting the company’s push over the past couple of years to add products for sport quad riders.
“Now we’re going to let the market tell us, ‘Did we get it right? Do you need more (sport quad aftermarket suppliers?)’”
Dealers will certainly see more products aimed at the UTV buyer.
Tucker Rocky unveiled at least two new vendors — RedArt and J.Strong Industries – that are solely devoted to providing side-by-side accessories. Plus, a number of companies known for developing ATV products, including Pro Armor, also are offering UTV accessories.
Urquhart sees the UTV aftermarket, which has “grown exponentially” at Tucker Rocky, as “a very, very crowded market right now.”
Even as the UTV aftermarket grows — Urquhart expects that will be the case for at least the next three to five years — the deluge of companies entering the sector doesn’t figure to last.
“The cream always comes to the top, so it will probably be a two- or three-year shakeout,” he said.
Tucker Rocky has responded to the growth in its ATV sector by recently adding a fourth segment buyer, to ensure a consistent inventory, and by examining its outside sales staff’s territories.
Del Munoz, Tucker Rocky’s director of outside sales, said the company has worked recently to ensure reps have more time to spend at dealerships. To do that, Tucker Rocky has split up some territories, creating six new sales areas for its outside reps. The distributor now has 137 outside sales reps and approximately 20 inside sales staff.
By Neil Pascale