Power Profiles

Suzuki City – Biloxi, MS – July 21, 2008

Suzuki City
211 Beauvoir Road
Biloxi, Miss. 39531
Mike and Maria Nasakaitis
Younger generations are always trying to convince older ones to try new things. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. At Suzuki City, it was only after the urging of his son that Mike Nasakaitis decided to field a motocross team this year after 20 years in the business. The move has been a resounding success for the company, Nasakaitis says. “It’s just about getting the younger riders seen,” Nasakaitis said. “We are a stepping stone for them. They’ll move up from us eventually.” Suzuki City is a Suzuki-only dealership and has been since Nasakaitis purchased the franchise in 1986. The dealership in ocean-side Biloxi, Miss., is one of the OEM’s top dealers. Suzuki City is a family affair. Nasakaitis owns the dealership along with his wife, Maria. The couple’s son and daughter have joined Suzuki City to help out in a number of areas. The dealership’s southern locale means nearly year-round riding for many of its customers, which helps keeps seasonal selling to a minimum, Nasakaitis says. The company carries ATVs, motorcycles, scooters and UTVs. Suzuki City’s facility is 11,200 square feet. The company has an eye toward future expansion and just purchased property next door for that purpose.
Living in Hurricane Alley is not friendly on the pocketbook when it comes time to find insurance. Hurricane insurance costs have increased significantly in all coastal areas in recent years. Nasakaitis’ facility costs a bundle to insure and he says finding and paying for insurance on his facility is rather worrisome. Hurricanes are “a worry every year,” Nasakaitis said, and he added Biloxi is still recovering from Hurricane Katrina.
Nasakaitis estimates his company sells 600-800 units each year. The vast majority are motorcycles, and about 150 ATVs move off the lot each year, he says. The dealership would sell more, but it has a hard time getting enough units. Suzuki’s Boulevards, GSX-R models and the Hayabusa are the hot items at Suzuki City for the early part of the summer. The Boulevards have a look and cost that customers love, Nasakaitis says. People like the Hayabusa for its power and with its long-standing reputation, the GSX-Rs sell themselves, he adds. For all these street bikes, gas prices are bringing more interest and convincing customers’ significant others that it’s OK to buy the more fuel-efficient transportation mode.
With age comes wisdom, Nasakaitis says. He believes that’s a primary factor behind an increasing number of customers moving from sport bikes to the cruiser market. Ten percent of new bike buyers were age 61 and older, according to the 2007 J.D. Power and Associates’ Motorcycle Competitive Information Study. More than 25 percent of buyers were 51 and older. The study also found 32 percent of riders had 30 or more years of riding experience. “A lot of owners are starting to get a few more years on them,” Nasakaitis said.
Suzuki City has a dyno in its service area and that one piece of machinery leads to a whole lot of accessory sales. Those that use the dyno want to outfit their bikes to be as high performing as possible. The dealership stocks heavily in accessories and apparel for its most popular lines: Boulevard, Hayabusa and GSX-R. The company’s service department offers more services to bring out the performance in customer vehicles, including engine-building services. That has come in handy now that the company has its own motocross team. The dealership employs four full-time technicians.
Suzuki City sponsored the Mississippi Gulf Coast Bike Fest, which ran July 1-5 at varying cities along the coastline. The event included multiple poker runs and parties, but Nasakaitis was most involved with the Biker’s Ball and Bike Show. The show took place the evening of July 2 in Biloxi and drew bikers and nonbikers alike to see what was new.
“Don’t just say you care, show it,” Nasakaitis said. “Play like everybody’s from Missouri: Show Me. There are enough good customers out there to keep all us dealers in business.”
— Lisa Young

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