Power Profiles

Blackhawk Powersports – Strasburg, OH – Dec. 22, 2008

Blackhawk Powersports
8396 Fort Laurens Road N.W.
Strasburg, Ohio 44680
Matthew Frimel
The pressure the recession has put on many dealerships hasn’t been as intense for Blackhawk Powersports. Owner Matthew Frimel says the dealership is in the top 20 percent of Suzuki dealers nationwide, its scooter sales have at the minimum tripled in the past year and its parts department has grown 80 percent since it re-opened in 2005. Blackhawk Powersports’ strong business can be attributed to its enthusiastic, knowledgeable staff. “It’s amazing the employees we have. They’re great people. We have a lot of fun together,” Frimel said. “If I see something that we need to do differently, I consult with them and then I make a decision. Really I just can’t say enough about the team we have here.” Frimel’s uncle started the dealership in the early 1990s, but he bought it after it burned to the ground in September 2004. With the help of his brother, they built a 10,000-square-foot facility. “We made sure we built it really tall so you can see it from the highway,” Frimel noted. “We also made sure we could add a second story because they always say it’s cheaper to go up than out. We reopened a year to the day, Sept. 24, 2005.” The dealership carries Suzuki motorcycles, ATVs and scooters; KTM motorcycles and ATVs; TOMOS mopeds and scooters; TGB scooters and CPI youth ATVs.
“My biggest, most giant concern is two-fold because they go hand-in-hand: jobs and credit,” Frimel said. “I see jobs going away, and people being laid off left and right. Credit has gotten really tight, and that’s hurting the industry tremendously.”
Ever since the gas spike hit last spring, Frimel said moped and small scooters sales have been “out of control. I think the moped and the small scooter sales have more than tripled, probably quadrupled. If it’s a 150cc scooter or a 50cc moped, you’re going to sell it.” He adds the TOMOS scooters and KTM dual sports have been great sellers as well. “It’s surprising because dual sports weren’t a huge mover until this gas crunch hit.”
With gas prices on their minds, Frimel says people are looking for that high-mileage bike, and because of that, the large cruiser sales have decreased for Blackhawk Powersports. “The big cruisers, like the 1,500cc and 1,800cc, those sales have dropped way off,” he said.
The extra effort Blackhawk Powersports’ employees put into their customers, Frimel says, is the No. 1 reason the PG&A department has grown more than 80 percent since it reopened. “It has gone gangbusters,” he said. “You’ll hear, ‘I’ve been to four different dealerships and I hope you can help me because no one else has been able to help me.’ The first thing the customer will hear is, ‘Hey if we don’t have it, we can get it for you.’ (The staff) really gets to the heart of what the customer is trying to achieve. ‘What do you need it for? What type of riding do you do?’ They guide them in the right direction. Customers will say how amazed they are that we stopped and took the time to really help them make that purchase.” The No. 2 factor that has helped grow the department is the amount of inventory the dealership carries. “We carry more items here than a lot of our competitors in the area,” Frimel said. “More selection on the gear side. That’s always a struggle though because you can carry too much, and then you’re sitting on all this inventory.” One segment that moves quickly is tires. “We have really gone after the tire business, street, dirt and ATV,” Frimel added. “So far in ’08, we’ve sold 6,000 tires.” The service department is just as busy as parts. Frimel says his employees are known for their experience with a combined total of 50 years. They’re only one of 30 KTM dealers in the United States who are a part of the Orange Level. The Orange Level means the dealership has tools and the staff has training to help riders with special bikes that other dealerships can’t. “If you bring in your bike and it needs special suspension work, we can do that work here. If you have the new RC superbike, we have the tools to do all the work from A-Z,” Frimel said. “We spend a lot of time sending the mechanics, technicians (to training).”
Blackhawk Powersports has a constant buzz due to the advertising it does and its Web site. Frimel says he’s had a lot of success with the call-to-action type programs with direct mail and radio. “Obviously this time of year with all the craziness going on (with the down economy), it hasn’t been as successful as we’ve liked compared to the past,” he noted, “but we’ve never had a problem filling the parking lot.” The dealership also does Cycle and ATV Trader online.
“Tighten the belt,” Frimel said. “Watch your overhead as close as possible, and watch your labor.”
— Karin Gelschus
Dealers who would like to be featured in Power Profiles should contact Associate Editor Karin Gelschus at kgelschus@affinitygroup.com.

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