Mar. 9, 2009 – Hot News

Former Suzuki exec returns for ‘ultimate job’

American Suzuki Motor Corp. hired a familiar face as its new national sales manager.
Rod Lopusnak, the OEM’s former ATV operations manager, returned to the Brea, Calif.-based manufacturer Feb. 23 to lead American Suzuki Motor Corp.’s sales and dealer development teams.
“Going all the way back to my dealership days, this was my ultimate job,” Lopusnak said in an interview with Powersports Business.
Lopusnak left American Suzuki in late 2007 to become vice president of business development for national distributor Tucker Rocky. Lopusnak says American Suzuki contacted him about the national sales manager position and he couldn’t pass it up.
“It was like a dream come true for me from a personal aspect,” he said.
Lopusnak says he will oversee the company’s 30 district sales managers as well as the dealer development and dealer relations departments. Those are roles that were formerly held by then Vice President Mel Harris, who retired from the company late last year.
“I have such good friendships and relationships with a lot of the key management at Suzuki and throughout the whole sales side,” Lopusnak said. “It’s like going home. I kind of moved away for awhile and now I’m going home.”
Lopusnak says his 14 months at Tucker Rocky were incredibly valuable.
“It gave me a whole different window to look through,” he said. “It showed me a lot of stuff that I either took for granted or didn’t understand clearly and now I have a complete understanding of how the whole aftermarket world works. I’m confident that will help me moving further.”
Lopusnak realizes he’s making the move at a difficult time.
“The economy is difficult. The industry is difficult,” he said. “But I definitely think we can get it turned around for sure.
“There are definitely some things we have to work on hard, but I’m confident we’re going to get it done.”

100-plus dealers have reached special Yamaha status

Yamaha Motor Corp. U.S.A.’s Pro Yamaha program has had more than 100 participants achieve Pro Yamaha status since it began in September 2007. The program is intended to help dealers improve customer satisfaction and dealer profitability, according to a Yamaha press release.
Yamaha dealers need to meet specific criteria to earn the status, and once they do, they’re rewarded with incentives to maintain high levels of customer service and support.
The manufacturer has seen a positive response from dealers, says Yamaha Motorsports President Henio Arcangeli.
“Pro Yamaha raises the industry standard for sales support, service and customer retention and ultimately makes our dealers more profitable,” he noted in the release. “Yamaha is excited about the response we have seen from our dealer partners and from their successes as part of the program.”

ADP Lightspeed, 50 Below to develop integrated Web sites

ADP Lightspeed and 50 Below plan to integrate dealers’ Web sites and dealer management systems (DMS), allowing dealers to fully utilize the Internet and reduce redundant steps in updating information.
“In a tough selling environment, powersports dealerships are looking for new revenue opportunities,” Laurn Rice, general manager of ADP Lightspeed, said in a press release. “The integration that this alliance will provide will open the Web’s vast marketplace for all dealers to capture more business from the Web.”
Doran Nurmi, product manager for 50 Below, stated, “Dealers can’t let information on their Web sites get stale. Yet most dealers lack the resources to dedicate someone to update inventory information from their DMS to their Web site. This alliance allows us to do the integrations automatically for the dealers, saving them time and giving them the ability to capitalize on Internet opportunities.”

BMW reports increased sales in January

BMW kicked off its year with a motorcycle sales gain in January.
The company says its worldwide sales of 3,731 units represents a 1 percent increase over the previous year period. BMW’s sales for North America were not announced in the press release.
BMW attributed the sales gain to continued strong demand for the F 650 GS and F 800 GS models, each of which were introduced last year. The company also says it expects to get a further boost from the launch of its revised K models that occurred in February.
On the auto side, BMW says it sales declined 24 percent compared to the previous year period.

Dealerships offer 12-month return program

St. Paul Harley-Davidson/Buell, St. Paul, Minn., and Wild Prairie Harley-Davidson/Buell, Eden Prairie, Minn., signed an agreement with WALKAWAY USA, a provider of performance management solutions and technologies, to offer customers a financial protection program, according to a press release from the companies.
Exclusively offered in the Midwest, the program, called the Pledge, is currently being offered under the WALKAWAY Protection for motorcycle financing as a complimentary 12-month motorcycle return program in case of job loss or certain life-altering circumstances.
The program is provided with every new and used Harley-Davidson or Buell motorcycle that is purchased and financed at either dealership.
The complimentary package allows the customer to walk away from up to $7,500 in negative equity while keeping their credit rating and savings intact. Enhanced levels of the Pledge allows motorcycle owners to extend their coverage for up to 84 months on a maximum loan of $50,000.

Harley-Davidson, Ford to release 2010 F-150 truck

The 2010 Ford Harley-Davidson F-150 is the 14th collaboration the companies have done since the partnership began in 2000, according to the Associated Press.
“Image buyers” remain despite the recession, says Matt O’Leary, chief engineer for Ford. “Image buyers buy based on what the product represents,” he said. “We have a very loyal following.”
The truck’s interior is intended to look like a Harley-Davidson jacket with its deep red and black leather seats. PSB

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