New distributor foresees ‘best chapter yet’ for Italian brand
The MV Agusta spread at EICMA in Milan annually brings a ‘Wow!’ factor that can only be experienced by those on site.
It’s with that same amount of excitement and enthusiasm that Joseph Elasmar has taken over the distributorship of the storied Italian brand in the U.S. and Canada. Elasmar doubles as CEO of Urban Motor Group, the distributor in Australia and New Zealand for MV Agusta. He also handles some distribution for brands such as Royal Enfield, Benelli and Gas Gas, among others, in his native Australia.
In addition to being one of the key motorcycle distributors for the brands he represents, he also heads an asset finance company and a property development company in Australia.
More recently, he launched a technology company that has developed proprietary software for the automotive industry that will be launched into dealerships across North America in early 2018.
Powersports Business editor in chief Dave McMahon caught up with Elasmar, CEO of MV Agusta USA LLC, to discuss the brand’s future in the U.S.
Powersports Business: Congratulations on the new acquisition. Based on the buzz around the MV booth here at EICMA, it seems like a good time to be on board.
Joseph Elasmar: It’s an exciting time to be involved with MV Agusta as the successful recapitalization has just been completed, which means more new models in the lineup along with significant technical updates that will result in a comprehensive premium range of motorcycles for 2018.
We are releasing some of the most desirable bikes in the world and focusing on the high-end product pipeline for clients seeking something more, and we’re so grateful to be a part of what is set to be the best chapter yet for MV Agusta.
PSB: I know you’ve had great success with the brand in Australia and New Zealand. How did the U.S. distributorship evolve?
JE: Personally, I had been planning to enter the U.S. market for quite some time. I actually spent a bit of time there in 2013 and set up a U.S. company, arranged staff, warehousing, etc., but due to a change in family circumstances, I had to delay the launch plan. So it has always been part of the overall plan for me and at the start of 2017 after almost a year of discussion, planning, persistence and proven results in other markets, Urban Motor Group officially acquired MV Agusta USA LLC for North America.
PSB: What kind of plans do you foresee for the brand in the U.S.?
JE: There is a clear need for the USA to be the key market for MV Agusta, and in order to achieve this, it requires a strong focused team to take it to the level it deserves. The factory has a clear focus on building luxury motorcycles that are superior in technology and design, while maintaining the hand-built-in-Italy approach, which is where we see the competitive edge for those looking for something more in a motorcycle. We have a clear understanding on what needs to be done in terms of bringing products of distinction to market with a focus on strengthening dealer network, further improving aftersales and offering a unique customer experience which is our key objective for USA moving forward. In saying this, the factory has recognized our ability in this area and is now focused on supporting us to deliver just that.
PSB: What will the geographic footprint look like in the U.S. for your company?
JE: At the moment we have offices in Pennsylvania and also California, with distribution facilities in both New Jersey and more recently in California. In addition, we also have staff based out of Atlanta, Wisconsin and New York, which gives us greater flexibility as a company. Of course having operations in Australia and New Zealand allows us to make greater investments in certain areas for the future with the economies of scale allowing to do things more globally rather than just locally when required.
PSB: How many dealers do you have now in the U.S. and how many will you be looking to add?
JE: At the moment there are several new dealership requests for the brand across USA and Canada, which in some case are still being evaluated. Some of these are proposals for new stores but our immediate focus is to strengthen and better serve the existing dealer network, while also rolling out new service and product training programs so dealers are well informed on all that relates to MV, including the new and revised 2018 range, allowing them to best serve the current and future customer base.
For the most part of 2017 we spent much time evaluating the dealer network and have now begun the process of appointing dealers within some of the key areas. Our current dealer network size in the U.S. is approximately 40 dealers with another five dealers scheduled to be onboard by the year’s end, in time for the MY18 range arrivals.
PSB: It’s been quite an eventful 2017 for you, with getting the business launched. What plans do you have for 2018?
JE: Next year we will continue developing and expanding the dealer network to improve customer accessibility to our motorcycles and service centers, with the aim of reaching a network size of 55 dealers across the U.S. and 10 dealers in Canada. In addition, we are also working through plans to launch flagship stores in some key locations that we anticipate to announce in first half of 2018.
PSB: That sounds like a nice future for MV dealers. And looking around here at the booth and the amazing motorcycles being launched, the product lineup has to be appealing to a prospective dealer, right?
JE: They are incredible, aren’t they? For me, coming here to and seeing the RVS#1 for the first time in the flesh really surpassed my expectations, as I was already seriously impressed by this bike with what I had seen on screens and in print. The longer I stared at it, the more detail I kept noticing, with every part of the bike having so much attention to detail applied. It quickly reminded me why MV is unlike any other motorcycle brand and the tagline ‘Motorcycle Art’ stands so true for this brand. This model has also seen some great uptake in USA with many orders already being placed for this model, which is expected to arrive in Q1 2018 for those on order.
And of course the F4 LH44 is absolutely stunning, seeing the paintwork in the flesh really made this bike stand out. Once again we have seen our allocation on this model almost sold out and is also expected to arrive in Q1 2018.
Then we have the new Dragster RC that was the other key highlight, as this motorcycle looks the part in every way and also comes with all the extras you could want for a limited edition motorcycle with pricing in range. In my opinion, this will be one of the most sought after MV Agusta motorcycles for 2018 in North America.
PSB: It’s no secret that MV has gone through its share of iterations in recent years. How does the most recent restructuring favor North American operations, in particular the dealers?
JE: First and foremost we are now in the midst of seeing significant changes and improvement in the aftersales department in Italy, marketing and product development, which all flows through to us in North America, making for a greater overall experience. Parts delivery time and fulfillment are a key area of focus and improvement and are now starting to flow through. This combined with stabilized and improved supply chain partners and the introduction of the updated Euro 4 platform will see improved durability, reliability and among all, an exceptional riding experience with many technical updates to electronics, engine/gearbox and chassis.
We will also see a significant increase in online exposure and our attendance at events with the intention to also consider a roadshow mid-2018. With this in mind, we will be working to engage our clients more frequently for rides which is something else we hope to see introduced in 2018. We can only thank our clients and dealers for being patient with us in the past and look forward to working to exceed expectations in the future with the committed and passionate team we have in North America.
PSB: When will U.S. dealers be expecting to see 2018 models that we’re looking at here in Milan?
JE: The 2018 models have now just begun to arrive at dealerships across the U.S., with most of the model range arriving before Christmas, including the new Dragster RC and F3 RC models. We also have the new Euro4 models, all arriving which have seen a raft of updates. To celebrate the completion of the restructure and introduction of the Euro4 versions, all 3-cylinder Euro4 models retailed after Nov. 1, 2017, now have a three-year, factory-backed unlimited mileage warranty along with roadside assistance also being part of our commitment to improving the overall ownership experience.