Power Profiles

Extreme Power Sports – Fredricksburg, VA – July 21, 2008

Extreme Power Sports
10725 Courthouse Road
Fredricksburg, Va. 22407
Alan Potter
Extreme Power Sports Vice President and General Manager Ric Leary has followed a long path to this dealership, but it’s just the right fit for him. Leary, now 63, has been riding motorcycles for more than 45 years, but spent the early part of his career as a foreman in New England factories. Eventually, he decided he wanted a job he enjoyed more, so he applied at a local dealership and went on to become sales manager and general manager. Over time, he earned a reputation for improving sales departments. As a result, Leary and his family traveled across the nation, from Hawaii to Minnesota, and helped dealerships large and small improve gross margins and land more sales. He’s been at it for 31 years. Seven years ago, he landed at Extreme Power Sports. His family has since been folded into the dealership. Wife Linda is finance manager while son Seth is parts and service manager. The Fredricksburg, Va., dealership is 10 years old. “I started out in a store about this size,” Leary said. “I’ve managed larger stores, but they’re more impersonal. This put the fun back into it and that’s why I got into the business in the first place.” Extreme Power Sports sells ATVs, motorcycles, scooters and trikes and handles Kawasaki, Polaris, KYMCO?and Suzuki brands.
Extreme Power Sports is in the middle of a model drought and with that comes many frustrations, Leary says. The dealership is sold out of a number of 2008 models already this year. Leary knows he could sell more, but manufacturers just don’t have them available, he says. The problem is not unique to his store. Leary has received a number of calls from other dealers in his area wondering if he had excess product on hand to help them out with their low inventories. The fact that ordering for 2009 models is still a ways away adds to Leary’s frustrations.
It’s no secret ATV and dirt bike sales are down across most of the nation and things are no different at Extreme Power Sports. However, street bike sales are making up the lost ground for the dealership. “We had a terrible start to the year, but May and June were record months,” Leary said. “We’re supposed to be in a recession, but the people of Fredricksburg weren’t told.” Customers are looking for fuel-efficient vehicles and street bikes are their ticket, Leary says. They are a popular option for a town where 60 percent of the population commutes to Washington, which is a 100-mile round trip, Leary says.
Demographics are always shifting, but Extreme Power Sports has created such a wide customer base for itself, it’s getting harder to define, Leary says. “When I first got in, it was a far younger white male,” Leary said. Some time ago, the dealership added the area’s first women’s department. As a result, it’s not uncommon for a 65-year-old grandmother to come in and buy her first motorcycle, Leary says. The dealership is getting new customers from all age brackets. The area’s Motorcycle Safety Foundation shared with Leary that it has trained 450 more people through the first half of the year than it had during the same time period last year.
Parts and accessory sales are up so far this year for Extreme Power Sports. Leary attributes the increase to people dusting off their bikes. “I have a feeling that what I’m seeing is people that have had a motorcycle stuck in the garage for a couple years and want to save some money,” Leary said. “We’re getting more service and selling more parts because people need to get them up and running.” The dealership’s shop has three technicians. Seth Leary also serves as service writer, in addition to service and parts manager. The shop is busy pretty much to capacity this riding season. “We’ve been very busy and have about as much as we can handle,” Leary said.
The motorcycle business is tricky to advertise in, Leary says. Since only 2-3 percent of a general audience is riders, a lot of the punch of radio or other traditional advertising is lost, Leary says. Instead, Extreme Power Sports opts to put its name in front of audiences it knows have more of a riding-enthusiast base. The dealership does so largely through sponsoring riding-related events. Sponsorships include two local drag strips, where Leary himself drag races on occasion.
“One of the things I do is read everything I can get my hands on because this business changes almost on a weekly basis,” Leary said. “If you don’t keep up, you fall by the wayside. Stick to the basics. But on the other hand, you have to know what the market is like, what the economy is like. Change with the changes. The other thing is, if you don’t already, have a good computer system and get involved in a 20 group. You can’t stop learning in this business and that’s what makes it fun.”
— Lisa Young

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