Kart makers look forward to 2003
Manco Products, Inc. filed for voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2002. Now, nearly one year later, with new money and a new name, the future appears quite a bit more positive for the manufacturer and importer of karts, scooters and quads.
In December, Arlington Capital, LLC, purchased certain assets of Manco Products Inc., and formed a new company called Manco Powersports. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Both companies are located in Fort Wayne, Ind. Arlington Capital is a venture capital firm that specializes in investing in businesses which focus on attracting and retaining jobs in and around the Indiana city.
“Obviously, we wanted to stay in Fort Wayne and continue our proud tradition of producing the best recreational vehicles in the world,” said Kent Rice, Manco president. “We are happy to be able to do that.”
“We have new product coming out in the spring,” National Sales Manager Jeff Platzer told Powersports Business. “We recently put two new units on the Web site — a children’s go-kart called the Bandit, and what we call the 606 Intruder GFX intermediate suspension kart.
“Manco diversified into scooters and ATVs nearly two years ago, so the direction we’re going to continue on with in the spring is offering imported products like ATVs and scooters, while focusing on more contemporary styling and the expansion of the suspension karts.”
Platzer says Manco plans to debut its new XTK 713E suspension kart at the Dealer Expo in Indianapolis this month. (booth # 2613). The XTK is part dune buggy, part go-kart, and runs on a 13.5 hp Robin/Subaru engine.
Manco spent the summer phasing out its Tecumseh engine line for Robin brand powerplants — a move which supplies the firm’s commercial-grade premium engines with a three-year warranty.
Manco distributes product factory-direct and through a network of regional distributors.
“The factory-direct states tend to be around us, whereas it doesn’t seem to work that well once you get out West,” Platzer said, adding that the firm is “fully covered” with distribution channels in Canada, Mexico and even Europe.
Carter celebrates 66 years
Celebrating its 66th year of business in Brundidge, Ala., Carter Brothers Mfg. Co., Inc., spent the past year moving into a new 147,000 sq. ft., facility, struggling for a bit, and then building up to full production.
“Our shipments are up 39% over what we were doing at this time last year,” the firm’s Ryan Daugherty told Powersports Business.
“Our XTVs were the biggest thing at Carter Brothers last year,” Daugherty said, supplying an update on the company’s 2002 program. “We introduced prototypes of the machine at Indy last February, and there was a fantastic response from dealers. After previous shows, we would never see more than 50 leads, with the XTV in the booth at Indy, we received well over 200 solid leads.”
Carter, with over 1,000 dealers selling its growing line of powersports products, released information on the XTV class of machine in August and began shipping them late last year.
At this year’s Dealer Expo (booth # 5409), Carter plans to add the new XTV 150 Double Seat to its line-up.
With an electric-start 150cc engine made by Taiwan’s Standard Motor Co., the XTV moves at about 45 mph, depending on whether it is a single or double seat model. It’s outfitted with a dual A-arm suspension up front, a swingarm suspension in the rear, and automatic CVT drive.
Kasea has busy year
Last year was busy for Kasea. The firm hired 10 new employees, expanded office space, and added 10,000 sq. ft. to its warehouse.
“Plus, we had a new 250cc that came out in October,” Scott Stefy told Powersports Business, “and our upcoming Explorer, which we’re still a few months away from having in production, is kind of like the Honda Pilot. It has a 250cc water-cooled motor, independent front and rear suspension, independent disc brakes on all four wheels and reverse.”
The Explorer will be Green-Stickered in California, a first for Kasea, and Stefy says the company is “working on getting some of our other engines through that process, as well.”
As for Kasea’s dealer network, Stefy says: “What we’re shifting toward is more Kasea-only dealers. We don’t just have ATVs. We have go-karts, the scooters, just a lot to offer. Our five-year plan is to grow the line to a point where an individual dealer can survive with Kasea alone.
“The only way to do that is to offer product for the little guys all of the way up to the adult-sized stuff. Utility quads are something that we’re looking at bringing out, and we’d like to form a diverse adult-sized line of motorcycles — we already have a 125cc dual-sport, and we’re looking at expanding into the off-road bike market.”
Kasea is in booth # 5225 at the Dealer Expo.
STR Motorsports recently moved into a larger facility in Spartanburg, S.C. With 30,000 sq. ft., it’s about double the size of the firm’s former location.
Bruce Ramsey, head of marketing at STR, says the larger facility supplies more warehouse space and expanded office space.
STR Motorsports (booth # 2019) is the licensed U.S. importer and distributor of Kymco brand powersports products. Kymco is the second largest Taiwanese exporter of two-wheelers, and now also is offering quads.
“We also introduced Kymco’s first ATV, the 150cc Mxer, in 2002,” Ramsey said.
STR introduced its first larger displacement scooters last year — the 250cc liquid-cooled Bet & Win, and the 150cc fan-cooled People 150. For 2003, the firm is preparing to offer six 50cc and four larger models.
Jumping into the motorcycle market, STR also is finishing tests on its 250cc V-twin Venox, and expects to have it available to dealers in the spring. Available in a glossy black with blue metal flake or a gunmetal gray, the bike looks to be a contemporary cruiser with classic flare.
Most STR dealerships receive shipments direct from the factory, but STR does have small distributors on the East Coast — which Ramsey says is one of the company’s strongest markets.
“We’re branching out pretty well,” Ramsey says. “We service coast to coast, and we have a separate warehouse facility — a third-party logistics center, if you will — in Fremont, Calif.
“It’s a little hard to service states like Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas with a 250cc scooter, but we’ll get there with the ATVs.”
Manco purchased, will remain in Ft. Wayne
Kart makers look forward to 2003