Bill Rucker, co-founder and chief executive officer of American IronHorse (AIH), the Fort Worth, Texas, motorcycle manufacturer, has left the company, Powersports Business has learned. Rucker was not available for comment.
A company spokesperson declined to comment about Rucker’s departure for this issue of Powersports Busines, but a statement distributed by the company said simply that Rucker had “departed” the company.
Until a replacement for Rucker is hired, the company has named James Collet and Donald Wilson to serve as interim co-CEOs. Wilson is a two-year member of the AIH board and Collet is an advisor to the company.
Other key members of the management team working with Collet and Wilson include Bob Kay, chief operating officer; Tim Edmondson, co-founder and chief designer; and Beth Owens, vice president of sales and marketing.
Kubota plans utility cart
Farm machinery and industrial equipment manufacturer Kubota Corp., Osaka, Japan, plans to launch a utility cart in the U.S. this year, joining a growing market that is shared by Polaris, Kawasaki and a number of high-profile manufacturers from outside the powersports industry.
Kubota plans to formally introduce the four-wheel-drive diesel-powered vehicle at its annual dealer meeting, Oct. 5-9, in St. Louis, Mo.
According to Kubota Product Manager Tom Sieper, the as-of-yet unnamed vehicle is a product of dealer requests and has been in development for more than a year.
“We’re holding it pretty close to our chest, but this is something the dealers have been asking for for quite a while,” Sieper told Powersports Business from his office in Torrance, Calif. “We have gone through two prototypes, one of which we showed at our dealer meeting in Salt Lake City in September 2002, and we’re expecting the first few production units to be ready for inspection in late July or early August.”
While Sieper declined to provide complete specifications on the planned utility cart, he said the vehicle will be offered in several trim levels, offering a variety of options. “Anything Kubota builds has a Kubota engine and a Kubota powertrain, will be 4x4 and diesel-powered,” he said.
The vehicle’s powertrain will be shipped from Japan to Kubota Manufacturing of America (KMA), Gainesville, Ga., where manufacturing and assembly will occur. KMA also builds Kubota’s BX Series of compact tractors, residential/commercial mowing units, and the firm’s zero-turn units.
Kubota has 1,000 U.S. retailers, most of which function as tractor/sub-compact tractor dealers. According to information obtained from Kyodo News International, Moriya Hayashi, Kubota's managing director, says the firm hopes to sell 5,000 units during the first year and 10,000 units by 2006.
The U.S. utility cart market deals in approximately 100,000 units per year. Kubota’s offering will compete with Kawasaki’s line of seven Mule utility vehicles, Polaris’ Ranger — available in 2x4, 4x4 and 6x6 — and EZ-GO’s five WorkHorse models, among others.
Cannondale concluded its transition through the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process on May 5, when it officially closed the sales of the assets of its bicycle and motorsports divisions to its largest secured creditor, an affiliate of Pegasus Partners II, L.P.
According to information supplied by Cannondale, Pegasus plans to move forward with the company’s existing staff, facilities, dealer network and overall strategy in the U.S. and at its European, Japanese and Australian subsidiaries, but plans to sell Cannondale’s motorsports assets.
The bicycle business now will be incorporated as the Cannondale Bicycle Corporation. Dan Alloway and Scott Montgomery will continue as senior executives of the company as vice president of sales and vice president of marketing, respectively. In addition, a chief financial officer and a chief operating officer will be recruited. Company founder Joe Montgomery will serve as a consultant.
“We’re extremely happy to have concluded the Chapter 11 process so quickly,” said Scott Montgomery. “We were in Chapter 11 for less than 100 days, but we’ve been a successful part of the bike industry for 32 years. We are back to our roots and it feels good to bring renewed focus to the bicycle business.”
“The bicycle division has remained profitable, which is a stunning accomplishment given the burden and distraction that motorsports imposed,” David Uri, a partner at Pegasus, said in a prepared statement. “We have no desire to disrupt a winning formula. As we’ve said before, our job now is to support and supplement the existing Cannondale team to allow them to concentrate on what they do best — designing, manufacturing and marketing lightweight, high-performance bicycles for the specialty retail market.”
Cannondale filed a voluntary petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Jan. 29, 2003. Cannondale’s largest secured creditor, Pegasus, had agreed in late January to act as the “stalking horse” bidder in the auction, which took place on March 20, 2003. On March 28, 2003 the Bankruptcy Court approved the Asset Purchase Agreement between Cannondale and Pegasus. Pursuant to the terms of the Asset Purchase Agreement, substantially all of Cannondale’s assets, including the Company’s bicycle and motorsports divisions, were purchased by Pegasus.
Honda ranks as the most popular manufacturer searched for on CycleTrader.com, garnering over 728,000 searches each month from nearly 1.5 million visitors.
“Over 25% of the total searches conducted on CycleTrader.com in a month are for Hondas,” said Danielle Kerner, business development manager for CycleTrader.com.
Kerner says Honda out-ranks the second most-searched manufacturer, Harley-Davidson, by over 250,000 searches. Harley-Davidson garners just over 470,000 searches a month on CycleTrader.com, while Yamaha averages nearly 463,000. There are over 4,200 Honda, 3,500 Harley-Davidson, and 3,800 Yamaha listed on CycleTrader.com.
Kawasaki Offers Military Special Discount
Kawasaki said it will offer U.S. military personnel an additional $250 disount on any new motorcycle, ATV or Jet Ski through July 31, 2003. The program works in addition to any discounts available to the general public, such as the May ’03 Good Times deal on motorcycles and ATVs or the Spring ’03 Good Times progam on Jet Ski watercraft. Buyers have the choice of taking a cash rebate or purchasing accessories. The program applies to any new, not previously registered vehicle, including new non-current models.
Superwinch Founder Dies
Frank F. Tolsdorf, Jr., founder and president of Superwinch, Inc., died April 27, 2003, after a long illness. Tolsdorf founded Superwinch, Inc. in Putnam, Conn., in 1970 and built the company into a successful, international manufacturing firm.
SMITH adds duties at S&S
S&S Cycle Inc. has appointed Brett Smith vice president of sales and marketing. Smith is the grandson of George and Marjorie Smith, founders of S&S Cycle. He began his career with the company as CFO in February of 2002, and will continue to maintain that role as well. Previous employment includes working for Deere & Company as a project manager in business planning and development. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point and holds an MBA from The University Of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business.
Founded in 1958 by George Smith, and located in Viola, Wis., since 1969, S&S Cycle designs, manufactures and distributes high performance carburetors, fuel systems, engines and engine components for the domestic V-Twin motorcycle market.
Triumph Adds Managers
Triumph Motorcycles (America) Ltd. (TMA), Newnan, Ga., has named Robert Ewing as eastern regional dealer development manager and Louis Posner as eastern region sales manager.
Polaris changes Sales Organization Leadership
Polaris Industries, Medina, Minn., has reorganized its sales leadership team.
Leading a new integrated Parts, Garments and Accessories (PG&A) and whole goods field sales team will be the new Director of Consumer Sales, Eric Lindquist. Lindquist served previously as the PG&A national sales manager for Polaris. He joined Polaris in 2002.
Polaris also created a commercial sales organization by consolidating Polaris Professional Series (PPS), military sales, government services (GSA) and national accounts into one organization. Ross Carlson, who has been with Polaris since 1998 leading the whole goods sales team, will lead the military, GSA and national accounts areas of the commercial sales organization. Carlson also will serve as interim director of commercial sales. Gary Fritz will continue to manage the PPS Sales team.
Victory Motorcycle Sales will continue to be led by Bob Durand.
Finally, new dealer and retail development activities will be consolidated under the direction of Steve Menneto as the new director of dealer and retail development. Menneto was named a regional sales manager in 2001.
PWC Sales Decline
Preliminary estimates from Statistical Surveys Inc. indicate that personal watercraft sales will be down about 5% for the first quarter of 2003. “The disappointing data from the first quarter does not come as a complete surprise,” said Dick DuMont, sales manager for Statistical Surveys Inc.’s Watercraft Division. “With the uncertainty caused by the buildup to the war in Iraq, a sales slump was fairly predictable.”
Ducati’s U.S. Sales off 42%
Ducati Motor Holding SpA (NYSE: DMH, Borsa Italiana S.p.A: DMH), Bologna, Italy, says unofficial Ducati worldwide registrations, a measure of retail sales, were down 18% versus the first quarter of last year, with the U.S. down 42%.
Yamaha Posts Record
Yamaha Motor Co. says its group operating profit for the year to March 31 was up 82% to $575.6 million, while net profit improved 168% to $219.5 million on a 7% rise in sales to $8.673 billion.
Yamaha officials said the record profits were achieved through strong sales in developing Asian markets. But the company forecasted flat earnings in the near future due to a softening of demand in North America and Japan.
“We will try to make up for the likely fall in North American motorcycle sales with a rise in other regions, but the business environment looks set to be difficult,” a Yamaha executive reportedly told a Reuters correspondent.