Power Profiles

Lakeside Motor Sports – Mecosta, MI – Jan. 19, 2004

Ed Richter
35,000-sq.-ft. dealership (25,000-sq.-ft. main location, 10,000-sq.-ft. boat-rigging center three miles away) founded in Autumn 1998 at current location. Carries Ski-Doo, Polaris, and Yamaha snowmobiles; Bombardier, Honda, and Yamaha ATVs; Sea-Doo, Polaris, and Yamaha PWC; and Sea-Doo and Yamaha jet boats. Sells about 500 ATVs and 300 snowmobiles per year. Also carries boats: Bennington, Manitou, Smokercraft, Alumacraft, Rinker, and Gillgetter pontoons, plus Smokercraft fishing and fiberglass. 33 employees, including four part-time.
“The biggest problem is manufacturers pushing too many programs,” says Richter. “Everything is tied to a program and rebates. I’d like to see one low price, and let the dealer do their own promotions.”
“In sleds we do very well with the Ski-Doo Rev 600, and pretty well with the Rev 800 and the Polaris XC models,” notes Richter. “In ATVs the top sellers are the Polaris Sportsman 400 and 500, the Honda Rancher and Rincon, and the Bombardier Outlander Max and Outlander 400. We also really concentrate on used inventory. Right now we have 60 used snowmobiles and 20 used ATVs. I don’t feel comfortable selling the customer a unit one year and telling them I can’t take it in trade the next year.” What about lesser-known brands as trade-ins? “We’ve taken a few, but we’re not seeing as much of that as some dealers because we don’t have large chain stores. Mecosta is a small town of 1,000 people, but we have 35 lakes within 15 miles.”
“Mecosta is a resort area, so many of our PWC and ATV sales are to hunters and people who have cabins,” says Richter. “We’re open seven days per week, year ‘round, so they buy from us. We offer excellent service and probably have the largest inventory in the area — about $7 million. We store more than 500 boats per year, and we winterize about 700. We have storage slots, in-and-out service, and four service trucks on the road. We’ll go right to a customer’s dock and fix his watercraft.” Richter says in previous years most sales were of the price-leader units. “Now customers are buying more of the upscale units, like the four-stroke GTX 4-TEC watercraft. Things are getting so expensive that they want features for the money.”
“We have a really good snowmobile trail system within five miles, so when we get snow, that’s nice,” says Richter. “We could always use more ATV riding areas. Other than that, we’re in pretty good shape.”
“For a five-year-old company we have a very large parts and accessories department,” says Richter, adding that Lakeside has four staffers in PG&A. Service includes eight technicians — “when you service boats, it takes a lot of people” — plus two full-time pickup/delivery folks, a service manager, an assistant service manager, and a service writer. With so many marques, is it hard keeping everyone trained? “It’s a full-time job,” notes Richter. The two-year-old rigging center is almost like an assembly line; technicians install the motor and options, taking three to five hours. Richter built from the ground up in 1998, and in 2002 expanded and remodeled the whole store. “We opened it up, carpeted it, and made it more customer-friendly. This spring we’re putting an addition onto our service write-up area, giving it a personal touch with a waiting area.”
Richter worked at a Honda dealership for several years, then moved 30 miles to open his own shop, which now does more than $12 million in annual sales. “I’d like to see dealers stock more inventory and keep up their prices a bit. I’d like to see fewer, larger dealers who take it seriously, who are in it for a living rather than a hobby.”
10964 90th Avenue
Mecosta, MI 49332

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