Power Profiles

Midwest Motorsports – Rice Lake, WI – April 4, 2005


3280 South Main Street
Rice Lake, WI 54868

Don Johnson, Dave Bernier,
and Roy Roberg

30,000-sq.-ft. facility founded in January 2004 when the owners bought a nine-year-old dealership. Two hours east of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul in Minnesota. Carries Polaris ATVs, Ranger utility vehicles, and snowmobiles; Kawasaki (full line); Suzuki (full line); and Bombardier (full line). Largest-selling segment is ATV. 10 employees.

“My greatest concern is dealer support,” says Jason Butcher, sales manager. “We’re losing a bit of that, because there are getting to be many dealers, and the OEMs put a lot of pressure on us to retail more and more. We tell the OEMs, ‘We don’t need another hundred of those,’ and they tell us, ‘Well, you do and you’re going to take them.’”

“The Suzuki King Quad is probably our hottest ATV,” says Butcher. “In the motorcycle line, the Kawasaki and Suzuki heavy cruisers comprise our hot market; there’s really not one model that stands out. We just became a Ski-Doo dealer two weeks ago, so we don’t have the sleds in yet.”
Vehicle accessories across the board sell well. “Our customers use their ATVs for recreation-just putzing around the yard and trail riding. They like the add-ons. For example, snowplows are a good item for us.”

Butcher comes from a Harley-Davidson background. “In that market, you know your demographic and that’s whom you sell to. I’ve only been at this multi-line dealership for a year, and we don’t have that set demographic; it’s really diverse, and we run the whole spread.
“I’ve been trying to get a handle on that to see where I should be advertising. It’s wide-open, because we get the new ATV riders who are retired, and the young crowd who wants the new, hot bike/ATV/sled. As for Sea-Doos, we sell to the weekend vacationers with lake homes.”

“Wisconsin hasn’t seen too many hurdles here, unlike a lot of other areas,” says Butcher. “We have really good associations with the snowmobile and ATV clubs. Our state has a ton of ATV clubs, and they’re really strong in each community. The economic base is driven by this industry (both in recreation and the fact that several OEMs have manufacturing or distribution facilities in Wisconsin) “so the state is really good about keeping trails open, and the municipalities let ATVs and snowmobiles ride on the streets to get to their destination.”

Midwest Motorsports has four employees devoted to service and one to parts. “We’ve made sure that all of them stay up on schooling on each of our product lines, because it’s important to have them cross-trained,” says Butcher.

Rice Lake has several radio stations in the area, “so we advertise a lot there and in the many different newspapers in the small communities,” says Butcher.
“We’ve held an open house and have given away an ATV, but we’re going to really hit that strongly this season: sponsoring events and rides to get that target market in here. We want to make Midwest Motorsports a destination, a place to hang out instead of just somewhere to pick up your parts or your machine.” A group of people are working on Midwest’s web site, which should be up shortly.

“I’m sure dealers have heard this a million times, but take care of your customers,” advises Butcher.
“Your return customers and overall customer satisfaction are what make your dealership strong. If you have unhappy customers and ones who don’t return, it’s tough to be in business. If your customers are smiling when they walk out the door, that drives your business. Word-of-mouth is most important. One bad report does more damage than 10 good ones can undo.” psb

—Julie Filatoff


If you would like to share your story with the readers of Powersports Business, please contact Julie Filatoff at filatoff@cybermesa.com.

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