A rich showroom display for Honda dealership

Off-Road Express once again a zone winner

Off-Road Express Honda and Kawasaki didn’t repeat as national champion of the annual Honda ATV display contest, but the dealership in Erie, Pa., outdid itself once again with an in-store display that literally brought people in off the street just to see it.

Last year’s Christmas-themed display had reindeer guiding Santa’s sleigh via ATVs hanging from the ceiling. This year, Honda dealers were tasked with designing displays that honored Honda of South Carolina Manufacturing Inc., which earlier this year reached a production milestone of 2.5 million ATVs.

Off-Road Express Honda and Kawasaki in Erie, Pa., was its zone winner in this year’s Honda ATV display contest.

And with a deadline of Nov. 1, Halloween and election seasons current and past made their way to the party. Mannequins dressed as President Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin and Dick Cheney were used to highlight the various uses of ATVs. There was Obama raking leaves into a trailer behind an ATV, complete with turf and a picket fence; Palin roasting Honda bonus bucks over a campfire alongside a Foreman; a perfectly executed motocross track with ATVs in mid air; Cheney sitting next to a barely visible camouflaged unit, pointing his gun at a duck on the water; and Romney holding a motocross plate touting 2.99 APR financing on all Honda ATVs next to a Recon.

The display measured 1,000 square feet and required six yards of topsoil for the racetrack. Much of the display was already being constructed as part of the dealership’s Outdoor Expo, which ran for three days in October.

“We had a great time building it,” said Ernie Askins, co-owner of Off-Road Express West Kawasaki/Honda and Off-Road Express East. “It came out kind of cool. People were coming in just to check it out. It was something different and got a lot of laughs.”

Askins used a recommendation from his 11-year-old daughter to include the Halloween element. Her idea of scary costumes, however, eventually became the political figures.

Askins estimates the store’s staff had about two weeks “of work work” into it.

“These guys did everything themselves — they built the fence, built the motocross track. Everybody from here did their thing,” he said.

Off Road Express Honda and Kawasaki’s display included a turf lawn, a campsite, a hunting blind and a racetrack, complete with mannequins dressed as politicians.

The timing was ideal, as the “hugely successful” Outdoor Expo brought customers to demo ride ATVs and watch local celebrities race ATVs on a track on the dealership’s property. A local radio station broadcasted the event via live remote over the weekend.

“Our goal was to drive more traffic to the store. It’s not really about the sales you get that day — it’s for the people to come in,” Askins said. “Maybe they’ve never been here before or they’ve never ridden an ATV before. It’s a chance for them to get on one and see what it’s all about. What we try to do is attract people to the sport.”

Askins reports, “ATV sales have been great for us in 2012. We’re moving right along, doing the best we can every day. In our area, we’re pretty strong with both Kawasaki and Honda.”

The Kawasaki Teryx 4 brings in its share of customers who want to accessorize, with roofs and windshields getting the most attention.

“We definitely can’t complain about out ATV and side-by-side business,” Askins said. “It’s been a great year for us.”


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