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Dealer promotes via regular social media updates and Test Drive Fridays

Established in 2005, Centre Powersports & Marine, located in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, welcomed Eric Peterson as a co-owner in 2017. Mark Fiedler started conversations with Peterson about becoming involved in the business and Fidler now holds a five percent ownership stake.

Heather Peterson, the wife of Eric Peterson, is also employed at the dealership, and their 11−year-old son, Ben, often spends time there after school. “He’s pretty proud of the dealership,” Eric Peterson says. “It’s pretty fun. We’re a very family-driven dealership.”

“When you start here, the first thing my wife and I will tell you is that you will not miss any of your kids’ school activities,” he continues. “Right now, one of our staff is gone because her daughter had something going on at school.”

Centre Powersports & Marine owners Eric and Heather Peterson are pictured with their son, Ben, who is often at the dealership after school. Photos courtesy of Centre Powersports & Marine

Before the Peterson’s entered the powersports industry, the two worked at the same independent phone company. “Many couples can’t do it. We enjoy it. It’s been so long, it’s just what we’re used to,” Peterson says. “It works really well for us. It also helps from the aspect of having two of us that are all in and understand what the goal is. It really brings in the whole family atmosphere.”

The Centre work family

He shares that as owners, they make it known that their employees’ jobs are important, but ultimately, that their families come first. This is why employees are dedicated to the business, according to Peterson.

“Our work family is incredible. These guys and gals snowmobile together, they go fishing together in the winter, and they hang out together. My dad passed away two and a half years ago and every one of my employees showed up. That’s the kind of team it is.”

“We had our open house last weekend, and we took everyone out to dinner. After we got a ton of text messages saying, ‘thank you for all you do for us,’” he continues. “They truly appreciate what we do for them, and we truly appreciate what they do for us. We could not do what we do without them.”

Fall Open House

The Pflipsen Racing snocross team attended the dealership’s annual fall season open house. Drivers signed autographs and gave attendees a tour of their hauler. One snowmobile club parked a groomer on the parking lot, and another provided a side-by-side with tracks for attendees to get a close look at.

“We had tents outside with clearance clothing and inside was all our gear and clothing specials. We had reps from every one of the clothing brands that we carry on hand,” Peterson says. “Also, we had a lot of avalanche safety gear sold that day.”

Centre Powersports & Marine was established in 2005 and is located in Sauk Centre, Minnesota.

Mike Duffy from Avalanche 1 held an avalanche training course. Half a semi load of sawdust was used to mimic snow. “It’s super realistic,” Peterson says. “We had 40 spots open on Saturday and we had 37 spots filled. So, lots of people got very good training.”

The 100.7 KIK local radio station broadcasted live for two hours and served brats. “I think they served 300 brats,” Peterson says.

And the fall open house is not the only way the dealership is engaged with its community. In October, Centre held a coat drive. “We do all of the local parades. We sponsor some stuff with the local chamber in town. They have chamber events every month and we go to as many as those as we can. We belong to as many of the local snowmobile clubs as we can,” Peterson says.

Trail Talk Tuesdays and Test Drive Fridays

The dealership also contributes to the snowmobile community through its Trail Talk Tuesdays Facebook posts. Peterson started posting snowmobile trail conditions two years ago. “Two or three snowmobile clubs posted what their trail conditions were. I took their updates and put it together in one post on our Facebook page,” he says.

Then he reached out to a couple of clubs asking for their trail conditions to add to his trail update and the weekly posts were named Trail Talk Tuesdays. “It was pretty crazy how this started spreading around the state,” he says. “Sometimes it will have over 3,000 views. It’s been a cool marketing thing, not just to bring awareness to our company, but also to get people out riding and let them know when the trails are good.”

To reach other customers, the dealership recently launched Test Drive Fridays. The dealership provides brats and chips while customers test drive units from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“The Spyder [test drive day] went over really well. We did a side-by-side one, and it didn’t do much,” Peterson says. “You just never know what’s going to work and what’s not going to work. We’re going to try again and do a side-by-side day in the Winter.”

Shop talk

Peterson is curious to see how the economy will affect the powersports industry in the next two years and is currently keeping an eye on interest rates and the buying habits of consumers.

Staffing in the service department has been challenging. “Not as many young people are going in to be mechanics like they used to,” he says. “These machines are getting more advanced than they were 20 years ago. You really have to go to school and be trained and understand it.”

“As far as staffing otherwise, we’ve been very lucky because we have a really good reputation as far as being a good place to work. We’ve had a number of people that stop in, asking if we’re hiring. It’s been fortunate that we’ve had people walk through the door and that’s how we’ve grown.”

Along with the dealership, Peterson also acquired The website was launched in 2008 and originally only sold snowmobiling gear and apparel. He has since expanded what the e-commerce store offers.

“We sell all your major snowmobile clothing brands. We also sell parts. In the summer we sell a number of brands of lifejackets and water skis and wakeboards – things like that. And year around we have side-by-side and ATV riding gear.”

The e-commerce store is an entity of Centre Sports LLC. Operations take place within the dealership and are handled by a team of three full-time and two seasonal employees.

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