102B Carpenter Road
Turin, NY 13473
John and Laura DeGuardia
In the snowmobiling hot bed of Upstate New York sits Timberview Polaris. In 1998, John DeGuardia purchased the John Barleycorn restaurant and bar in Turin. A frequent snowmobiler in the area, it was one of his favorites stops on the trail. After extensive remodeling, Timberview Lodge opened in 1989. Five years later, he opened the Polaris dealership in the lower floor of the lodge. The dealership features a 2,000 square foot showroom and a 1,900-foot shop. DeGuardia also operates a 10-room lodge with a 75-person conference center. He hopes to add another hotel room expansion in the future if the summer ATV riding continues to grow in the Tug Hill area. Timberview sells mostly snowmobiles, about 80 percent new. Some used machines also sell. There are also 8-10 sleds in the rental fleet. “We run 8-10 units and we turn them over every two years, then we sell them,” says DeGuardia. “That way, we’re giving people nice new sleds to ride.” DeGuardia spends a lot of time running all the different aspects of his business, and Tim Hyde manages the dealership, along with four other employees.
“We’d like to see the ATV industry grow in our area,” says DeGuardia. It seems to be harder. We can’t even rent ATVs — the insurance is just ungodly. We used to rent them and the insurance was $300 per unit. Now it’s $3,000 per unit. We need the ATV industry to take hold like the New York State Snowmobile Association did to get better organized. Get more word out there that it’s a family sport.”
“The 600HO Fusion, by far, that’s been the hot sled,” says DeGuardia.
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
“We have a lot of out of town customers,” says DeGuardia. We have a good amount in town, we’re getting better and better. But we have a lot from out of town because people have to ride where the snow is and they are starting to realize that there is no sense in buying a sled down in New Jersey when you’re going to be up here. If it’s going to break, you have to be up here. There is no sense in hauling it back and forth. There are a lot of guys who are keeping their stuff here. Or they still haul it back and forth, but they buy it up here. Our motto is ‘Buy where you ride.’” DeGuardia also sees a more educated customer coming in his shop. “Definitely a smarter consumer,” he says. “I think it makes it easier because they know what they want and there’s less of a chance that — not that we do it — a salesman can BS them. With newcomers, you have to be honest with them. A lot of people at to oversell, sell a guy something because it’s more money and you are going to make a few more bucks, but you’re selling somebody something and they aren’t going to be happy.”
“There is always a little bit of trails closing here and there,” says DeGuardia. “But New York State passed a new liability law that should make the land owner more at ease about opening private land.”
PARTS AND SERVICE
“If I wanted to, I could have five mechanics wrenching all day long,” says DeGuardia. “We get customers who come up in the summer and bring in their sled in the off season. They say: ‘We’re going to come up on a Thursday, spend a night or two and you can do all the work on the sled.’ So then I get a room rental out of it. I get them buying food in the restaurant. It keeps they guys busy in the shop.” DeGuardia has three technicians during the summer and lays one off for the summer. “My guys are multi-taskers,” he says. “Plus in the summer time when we’re not as busy, I can give them a day off during the week and a day off on the weekend. During the winter we have to be open seven days. We are busy seven days.”
PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS
“We do an open house that’s a little different from most people,” says DeGuardia. “We did a benefit this summer for the ATVers and had more than 400 people at out place. Most of the time I’m in the bar until closing time and if someone needs a part, we go downstairs and get it. So that helps us, and gives us a real good name. We advertise as Polaris recommends. We try to get into some of the [enthusiast] magazines.”
WORDS OF ADVICE
“Treat your customers good, treat them fair and they’ll come back,” says DeGuardia. “Whether they spend $20 or whether they spend $10,000, you have to treat them right, otherwise they are not going to come back, That $10 customer might turn into a $10,000 customer if you treat them right. And that’s worked for us.”
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Timberview Polaris – Turin, NY – Dec. 26, 2005