September 3, 2007 – WPS Vendor Briefs

Selling everything from brake rotors to sunglasses and everything in between, more than 50 ATV, motorcycle and PWC aftermarket manufacturers gathered for Western Power Sports dealer meeting Aug. 13-17. With new units sales in varying parts of the industry either stale or slipping, Powersports Business asked several vendors their views on sales trends for both their companies and the aftermarket industry. Following are comments from five vendors interviewed at the event.
Paragon Powersports
Brian Cornelius, owner
What we’re seeing is people not spending money on the new units but actually spending money to fix up the old ones. So we came out with a product line under the Quadworks name, replacement seat covers, and they’ve been selling like gangbusters. We’re the only company on the market that does an entire range of applications, both sport and utility. So little niche products like this have really made a difference for us and for the aftermarket industry as a whole. No, I don’t think the downturn in new unit sales will continue. I think some years are great, others are down. I wouldn’t think this would last more than three years. Our customers are really looking for us to expand our product line into the UTV segment, and we’ve got some power kits for the Yamaha Rhino. We’ve got three new products this year for the Rhino that are really doing well, and we’ll continue to expand to other models, such as the Polaris Ranger, in the future. If your unit sales are down, it doesn’t necessarily mean your parts and accessories are going to be down, so don’t get too down and don’t be afraid to stock some product, too, because if you have it in stock, you’re more likely to sell it.
Techmount Accessory Mounting Systems
Mike Lee, owner
Although this has been a stale sales period as far as new unit sales go, we’ve actually seen our sales increase quite a bit in the past year. Part of that has to do with people spending money on things other than new vehicles, but we believe what’s been equally important has been the increasing number of riders who now own GPS units or cell phones, and the fact that these pieces of technology have become an integral part of many people’s riding experience. I believe our sales will continue to grow regardless of this recent recession in the industry, simply because GPS units or cell phones do you no good stuffed in your pocket or bag during a trip, and our products enable a rider to get the most use out of those products.
Matt Schumann, director of sales-moto
We’ve had a very successful year with our product line, and we have a lot of exciting products lined up for dealers in 2008. The fact that safety is a bigger issue than ever for people in the powersports industry means we are able to maintain strong sales numbers even when the market is facing a down time. Dealers have told us that many riders are coming in asking for better riding gear, and spending the money to upgrade equipment they might have sacrificed in the past to pay for a new vehicle or other add-ons. Although a lot of education is still needed, I think dealers are doing a better job working with customers to find the equipment that’s right for them, both in terms of the proper fit and necessary equipment for the type of riding they’re doing. I don’t see our sales being hampered by a decrease in vehicle sales, in many ways it actually can be beneficial. As far as the aftermarket industry in general, I can’t speak for other companies, but the industry traditionally weathers downturns in the market better than other segments, which I think is the case now.
Cory Johnson, aftermarket sales and market manager
I think for the past several years the fact is that most of the new motorcycles, unless they’re sport-oriented, are now shaft driven, ATVs are more shaft driven, so you’re having few sprockets being put on at the factory. So from that standpoint, it’s a decreasing market, and I think that trend will continue just because of the dependability of the drive shaft, the smoothness, etc. I don’t think you’ll ever see sport bikes with drive shafts, but the cruiser market obviously is a big chunk of the market. So our goal is market share; we have to continue to be in front of the dealer and the customer. We’re continuing to innovate products to stay at the front of the market. But from our standpoint we certainly don’t see it improving anytime soon.
Doug Muellner, national sales manager
Taking an overall look at the aftermarket industry, yes, the golden rule is that when new unit sales are down aftermarket sales increase, which is what we’re seeing now. We’ve had a great year sales-wise and we don’t foresee that slowing down in the near-term. Obviously we want to see vehicle sales increase again soon, but a product like ours is one of the first things a rider will look to when they’re thinking about improving the look and performance of their bike. Obviously that’s a huge advantage for us, because it allows us to thrive off a consumer’s desire to put money into their vehicles. (New unit sales) is something we’re obviously watching closely, but at the same time we’ll benefit on the front-end and that’s been the case so far. psb

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