Mar. 10, 2008 – Getting some lift from a new market segment

Donald and Adam Arnott are aiming to transfer worldwide success as an automobile air suspension manufacturer to the motorcycle industry.
Arnott Inc. added a motorcycle division a year ago and is aggressively marketing its aftermarket lines at dealer and consumer shows this year. Motorcycles are the father and son team’s latest frontier. It has been making air suspensions for cars for nearly 20 years and added lines for light trucks and SUVs in 2005.
Air suspensions take the bump out of bumps. Arnott’s products make for a 50-200 percent smoother ride, Donald Arnott says. They also allow the motorcycle to be height adjusted, meaning those who might not be able to put their feet flat on the ground when stopped on a bike with a traditional suspension will be able to do so at the touch of a button. The product also allows riders to move the bike around more when stopped.
It was at the behest of some auto customers the Port Canaveral, Fla.-based company forayed into motorcycle suspensions.
“We had a couple customers yelling at us in the auto industry to build systems for their bikes,” said Donald Arnott, CEO. “They went nuts over it, and we went from there.”
The reception has been a warm one so far. The motorcycle division is behind in deliveries because Arnott’s suppliers are having a hard time keeping up with the volume of orders the products have brought in, Donald Arnott says. The buzz drew him and his wife out of retirement on a Texas ranch to support the motorcycle division’s launch.
“It’s been a big ramp up procedure that’s taken some time, but now they’re selling faster than we can put them in the box,” Donald Arnott said.
Arnott’s products are similarly priced to traditional suspensions, Donald Arnott says. A complete bagger package, retails for $999 for most models. The company backs its products with a 30-day money-back guarantee and a five-year warranty.
Right now, Arnott has air suspension lines for Boss Hoss, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha bikes. The company also does some custom fabrication work.
As a bolt-on product, motorcycles don’t need to be modified to add the air suspension. Arnott’s auto and truck products are available at national chains AutoZone and O’Reilly Auto Parts. The company hopes to transfer that national availability and accessibility to the motorcycle industry. Arnott is currently developing its national dealer network and selling its products online. It also has a technical support infrastructure in place. In addition to its toll free technical helpline, all the company’s sales personnel have cell phones for immediate customer response.
Donald Arnott doesn’t like classifying a specific target customer, although he admits air suspension has greater appeal to certain demographics. One of those is Baby Boomers. They’re typically drawn to the smoother ride, which is easier on aching backs. Female riders are another group Donald Arnott believes will appreciate the benefits his products provide.
Looking forward, Arnott is in talks with a number of motorcycle manufacturers seeking the company’s product for their bikes. The manufacturer also recently started working with some trike companies to bring the product to that arena. psb

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