Brian Dubose and Aaron Whitfield know a thing or two about selling side-by-sides from their place of employment — Honda of Sumter in South Carolina. Billed as the “Biggest Little Honda Dealer on the East Coast” and “South Carolina’s SxS Headquarters,” it’s no wonder the two didn’t hesitate when offered a chance to attend the Pioneer 1000 Line-Off Ceremony at Honda of South Carolina Manufacturing, Inc. in nearby Timmonsville.
Brian, the dealership’s service manager, and Aaron, who oversees parts, were making their debut at the sprawling HSC factory. They were joined at the August event by several other nearby Honda dealers, as well as list of executives from Japan and local dignitaries that stretched far and wide. After all, it was a celebration not only of the well-received Pioneer 1000 side-by-side, but a $42 million investment in the factory to bring the product on board. An additional 44 jobs were added to the line with the launch of the flagship Pioneer 1000. Now holding strong at 1,200 associates and an investment in the plant that has exceeded $344 million, HSC president Brian Newman was more than happy to show off the talent to visitors such as South Carolina Lt. Governor Henry McMaster. The event also featured a video message from Gov. Nikki Haley.
“We’re well supported here in the great state of South Carolina, and that’s what it takes — a community of dedicated people to make this day happen,” Newman told Powersports Business.
With heavy collaboration from Honda facilities in Japan and Ohio a key part of the Pioneer 1000 development, executives shared their thoughts on the milestone with the factory employees. Takuji Yamaha, chief operating officer of North American Regional Operations for Honda North America and American Honda president had the honors first, followed by Newman. Quality Control coordinator Mary Nowlin then gave her final stamp of approval on the first Pioneer 1000 to roll off the assembly line.
McMaster then waxed poetic with his Southern charm that had the gathered crowd yearning for more words about why the event was so important to the citizens of South Carolina.
Next, Toshiyuki Shimabara, executive in charge of Motorcycle Power and Product Production and Operations, and general manager of the Kumamoto Factory, Motorcycle Operations, and Akio Handa, side-by-side Large Project Leader, shared the contributions of their teams in Japan to the Pioneer 1000.
David Taylor, HSC New Model SxS Engineering Project Leader, and Chuck Boderman, vice president of American Honda Motorcycle, concluded the momentous occasion with rousing speeches.
Meanwhile, Dubose and Whitfield from Honda of Sumter were thrilled to be able to walk inside the factory and see the production line.
“It’s our first time in the factory,” Dubose said. “We just wanted to come see it and check out the new Pioneer 1000. I’m pretty pumped. We think it’ll sell great. The other Pioneers have done well, and we’re looking forward to selling this one.”
Dealers have been selling the Pioneer 700 and 500 with huge success. In fact, year-over-year sales of Honda side-by-sides have increased 90 percent from 2014, Boderman reported at the event.
“We’re listening to our customers and want to supply a product to them that they’re expecting. If we don’t meet those expectations, we’re aren’t going to sell very many. This one, the Pioneer 1000 — it’s going to be a good one. We’re going to have to get busy here!”