Power Profiles

Canyon Motorsports – Gaines, PA – March 29, 2004

U.S. Route 6
Gaines, PA 16921

John and Cindy McCarthy

Founded in 1989 in Wellsboro; moved to new 10,250-sq.-ft. store three miles away in Gaines in 1997. The McCarthy sons Shawn and Ryan work in vehicle and parts sales. The dealership carries Polaris ATVs and snowmobiles; Honda ATVs, streetbikes, and dirtbikes; and Austrian-made KTM dirtbikes. Largest-selling segment is ATV (about 600 new units per year), then 170 snowmobiles, 100 dirt bikes, and 40 streetbikes. 11 employees.

Cindy McCarthy’s greatest concern is market saturation. “All the manufacturers are getting so greedy for market share. Every time we turn around, there’s a new ATV dealer, because everybody wants a piece of the pie. The OEMs need to be a little more faithful to the large dealers that have legitimate businesses. John Deere, Cub Cadet, and Husqvarna lawnmowers are now sold at Lowe’s and Home Depot.
“Polaris told us that they’ve been approached but are not going that route; they’ll stand behind their dealers. But you have to wonder, because money talks.”
McCarthy adds that Internet sales are also a problem. “Our dealer agreement prohibits us from selling on ebay. We probably get 50 phone calls per day where our guys look up parts. The customers want to know what a part should sell for, so they can go back on the Internet to bid. One day this dealership will be our sons’ future. We take it one day at a time.”

Riding the peak at Canyon: the Polaris Sportsman 700 EFI and Honda Rancher utility ATVs, and the Polaris Predator and Honda 450R sport ATVs. ”We have a waiting list for those,” notes McCarthy. “KTMs are the cream of the crop in dirtbikes, and the 450 EXC is a hot model. Both of our boys race KTMs, and one of our mechanics competes in enduros and hare scrambles. So that helps our KTM sales.”

“Shawn is 29, Ryan is 23, and John and I are in our late 40s,” explains McCarthy. “So in our sales force, we have somebody covering most of our customers’ age groups. One man is 82 years old and has four snowmobiles. Some customers are married and have little ones, so they come in to buy small four-wheelers and snowmobiles.” (McCarthy grandson Nicholas rides a 120cc Polaris snowmobile.)

Canyon Motorsports is in Tioga County, which has snowmobile trails, but no ATV trails, despite a four-to-one ratio (four-wheelers to sleds). “Our District Forester and the local Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) just put $2.3 million into a rails-to-trails system for bicycling, hiking, and horseback riding,” explains McCarthy.
“There’s nothing wrong with those user groups — except they don’t generate any of the money for trails. And when they come to the area, they don’t spend money on lodging, fuel, or restaurants. We know that this is a by-county problem, because we’re only three miles from Potter County, which has ATV trails. We’ve gone to the state capitol in Harris
burg, and found out that counties’ District Foresters allocate money where they want to. But they’re getting a lot of pressure, because we sell many units — and we’re not the only dealers in the area.”

McCarthy says all the Canyon service technicians are factory trained. “We try to send them to all the updates. In the fall we’re sending them for training on diagnostic equipment — they’ll be able to plug equipment into a computer, then into an ATV, and it’s going to save a lot of time and pinpoint problems more specifically. Then we have to offer benefits to keep the techs here, because after spending all that money on training, we don’t want another store to offer them more. We try to treat our employees like family, and we know we couldn’t do it without all of them — it takes the whole team to make this work. We don’t have high employee turnover.”

“Treat people decently, the way you’d want to be treated,” advises McCarthy. “Listen, then put yourself in their shoes when they have a problem. What is going to lure them to your store when everybody else offers the same thing? A lot of customers come from five and six hours away because they feel like family here. Invest time in your customers if you want them to come back.” psb

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