Power Profiles

Honda House – St. Cloud, MN – Jan. 1, 2003

1805 East Highway 23
St. Cloud, MN 56304

The Besser Family

Founded in 1967; at present location since 1971; rebuilt in 1985. Includes a Honda automobile dealership and a powersports dealership (with a 7,500-sq.-ft. showroom). Carries Bombardier (snowmobiles, ATVs, and PWC) and Honda motorcycles and ATVs (which is the largest-selling segment). “I think it’s going to be a big ATV year,” says Lorin Besser. Also stocks Sled Bed snowmobile trailers and a full line of utility trailers. 24 employees.

“The manufacturers have to keep their R&D departments going, because new-product development is crucial in keeping this market rolling,” says Besser. “There are so many new products coming out.” How good is business? “If this is a recession, I want to see it more often.”
When we spoke, five inches of snow had fallen on Minnesota but melted, “and we got a dusting last night,” says Besser. “We’ll keep our fingers crossed, because there’s a lot of energy out there in the snowmobile industry that’s just waiting for snow.”

Ski-Doo’s new Rev is the best-selling snowmobile at Honda House. “That, by far, is the hottest thing out there,” says Besser. “In ATVs, the Honda Rubicon is still our biggest seller, then the Foreman 450, then the Honda Rincon. We’re finally getting enough numbers in to have a true gauge. And we stock about 150 used motorcycles at all times.
“In clothing we sell a lot of the Ski-Doo line in the Wintertime, but Fox is probably our biggest line, followed by Thor. And HJC helmets.”

Besser says that his clientele “has changed dramatically in the last two years. We have more people coming back into the business than we’ve ever seen — ones who got married, raised their families, and want to get back into motorcycling. So custom bike and Gold Wing sales have been very good.
“But the fastest-growing segment right now is small dirtbike. My family is a prime example. My kids are now older, and they want to ride dirtbikes because we rode dirtbikes.” Besser says it’s not unusual for a family to purchase two or three dirtbikes at a time. “That’s what we like to see, because those are customers for the future.”

The biggest issue that Minnesotans are currently facing, Besser says, is getting ATV trails established. “They opened riding areas in the town of Gilbert recently after a four-year battle. We’re facing a little trouble with the state and national parks letting in ATVs. We used to have a lot of ‘open riding’ areas. Now that’s all controlled.” Still, Besser thinks this may be a blessing. “It’s forcing the state to take some of our registration money and actually build some trails.”

Honda House has three service technicians plus three setup/PDI technicians and one service writer, as well as four staffers in parts. “Probably the last big change we made in PG&A was adding our clothing department, actually catering to that market more,” says Besser. “It brings a lot of non-powersports people into the store, because Fox clothing is big in the schools in this area.”

“Keep focused on what you do yourself, not on what every other dealer is doing,” says Besser. “I just do my job right, and we always seems to be successful. Our entire family has been involved in the business our whole lives, but you have to stay energetic.
“As for employees, you have to hire people who are interested in the powersports business, who are enthusiastic, and are not just looking at this as a stepping stone to some other job.”

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