Victory Motorcycles — grand opening

Victory Motorcycles opened its doors for the first time in 1998, so it’s no surprise that Vice President Mark Blackwell says Polaris Industries CEO Tom Tiller and other original Victory employees were extremely excited for the launch of the company. While the launch generated a great deal of enthusiasm, the introduction of Victory’s first model, the 1999 V92C, also was highly anticipated. Dealers had deposits for the bike and were anxious to receive them to satisfy the original consumer demand months before it was actually released. Blackwell says getting that first model into production and shipped to dealers was one of Victory’s first significant difficulties. “I think it was much more challenging than the team expected, to get all the actual production-tooled parts from suppliers in time and get the bike into production,” Blackwell said. “There were also a lot of challenges in getting everything synchronized.” Although production began July 4, the motorcycles weren’t delivered in quantity to the dealers until late that fall, and by then, Blackwell says many dealers lost their deposits. “There was a lot of frustration everywhere in the team, the dealer network and even the initial buyers,” he added. “Fortunately, when the bikes were delivered, those early buyers were excited to become Victory riders. The V92C even won Cycle World magazine’s ‘Cruiser of the Year’ award, so that kept the team engaged and the Polaris management and board supportive of the effort.”

Turning point & now
After that first model release, Blackwell said there was “a steady stream of important activities and events that have helped us turn the business trends for Victory positive, from those initial, frustrating days.” One event that stands out considerably was in the summer of 2002 – the introduction of the 2003 Victory Vegas. It was one of numerous products to come that delivered Victory’s brand promise of “The New American Motorcycle.” “This bike really started to catch people’s attention and set Victory apart from all the others in the premium cruiser and touring segments,” Blackwell noted. “The bike had a modern, forward-looking design and had more modern technology compared to virtually all the other bikes in the category, which all had a more classic or retro look.” After the Victory Vegas, the company followed up with the Kingpin, Arlen Ness Signature Series Vegas, Hammer, Jackpot, Kingpin Tour and other Arlen & Cory Ness Signature Series models. Victory’s latest release was the award-winning Victory Vision street and tour models. “(They) have really solidified our difference from all the others in the category,” Blackwell said, “And I think the industry leading ownership satisfaction that we have enjoyed during the last few years has really helped the word of mouth referrals, which are very important for our still young brand.”

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