Aug. 10, 2009 – New business challenges for longtime executive

FORT WORTH, Texas — Longtime industry executive Frank Esposito has made a quite a change in the past year, shifting from the demands of leading a national distributor to focusing on building a small manufacturer.
Esposito was on hand at the recent Tucker Rocky National Sales Meeting, discussing not only his new company’s product but its recent business strides.
Esposito, who has had management roles at both Tucker Rocky and most recently Global Motorsports Group, is now president of Kendon Industries Inc., a manufacturer of stand-up, fold-away trailers and other accessories.
“For a small company, it’s a very big challenge,” Esposito said of his current position, which he started at the Anaheim, Calif.-based company near the outset of this year. “There’s a lot to do. But it’s fun work because you can feel the results when you make decisions and get things done.”
Some of those decisions include a couple of key initiatives that Esposito has led in the past six months, including reinvigorating the company’s sales and bringing higher-level business processes to the company.
Kenny Thurm, a design engineer, started Kendon Industries nearly 20 years ago after a friend asked him to design a trailer. The friend had been fined repeatedly by his local government for parking his motorcycle trailer on the street. Thurm was asked to design a trailer that could be stored in a garage, thus the stand-up trailer was created. Kenny and his wife Tina then built the business during the years.
“Kenny and Tina are both highly intelligent people and they knew to take the company to the next level they needed a higher level of professional management,” Esposito said. “So part of my early strategy was to build processes to get an effective operating basis so the company could grow.”

Distribution changes
Esposito also immediately faced a pressing issue of sales as Kendon suffered two difficulties: the effect of the recession plus its then largest distributor, Global, filed for bankruptcy.
“Because Global took on Kendon, Tucker made a decision to not be very aggressive with the brand,” Esposito said, “so part of my immediate challenge was stabilizing and increasing sales immediately. Part of that was taking care of the existing customers, good communications, networking with the media and reviving the relationship with Tucker, which is going very well.”
In fact, Esposito is confident Kendon can have success not only with its stand-up trailer through Tucker Rocky but its motorcycle lift, which like its trailer is designed to be stored conveniently in a garage. The lifts, which also are bought by dealers for showcase opportunities for their new and used stock, are not new but have not been heavily marketed. So Esposito ran into many Tucker Rocky sales reps at the Fort Worth event that had never seen the lift before.
“Plenty of dealers and consumers don’t know about it,” Esposito said of the lifts, which have a 1,000-pound capacity. “We see that as a huge opportunity.”
Esposito says with the distribution change and the new internal processes, the company is poised to grow. “The company can have significant growth without any change in capital structure or in fixed costs or facilities,” he said.
Looking ahead, Esposito said Kendon Industries is working on new product
development as well as finishing a branding program that is meant to clearly define the company’s objectives. The latter project, done by textbook, is a rigorous project that the
company already has spent two months on, Esposito says.
“We will be a premium brand with premium services focused on stand-up, fold-up motorsports vehicle handling equipment,” he said.
“So we’re going to be laser-focused on those
— Neil Pascale

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