Archive for May 27th, 2009

Assurant Solutions To Drop 20 Group Business

May 27, 2009

Assurant Offers Gloomy Outlook For Powersports

Joe Delmont

Joe Delmont

Assurant Solutions, the company that purchased the Lemco 20-Group business several years ago, said today that it is getting out of the 20 group business. At the time, the Lemco 20 Group operation was the largest of its kind in the powersports industry with about 325 participating dealers. Assurant purchased the business from RideNow, a major powersports dealer organization, which had purchased it from founder Ed Lemco.

In a memo to clients today, Jimmy Atkinson, Assurant vice president, said the company plans to “transfer” Assurant’s 20 group business to long-time trainer Gart Sutton.

Sutton’s GSA Best Operators Clubs business will contact the 300 or so members of Assurant’s 20 groups, Atkinson said, to “ensure a smooth transition.”

It’s not clear from the memo what this transition involves for dealers.

The move to GSA is effective June 1, 2009.

GSA also is negotiating to purchase Assurant’s traffic log business, Atkinson said. This deal could close within 60 days, he said.

In a related move, Assurant will close the Denver office on Friday, May 29, Atkinson said. Denver had been the headquarters for the Lemco operation prior to Assurant’s acquisition of the business.

A Gloomy Forecast

In his memo, Atkinson presented a gloomy forecast for the powersports industry. Noting that unit sales this year are down more than 30%, he said that “thousands of dealers will close over the next year.”

Based upon the number of franchised dealers operating in 2008, that’s a closure rate of almost 30%, higher than anything I’ve heard previously.

Atkinson said its Insureco operations will close Aug. 1, 2009, and dealers will have up to 60 days to arrange for replacement services.

Assurant Solutions remains committed to its vehicle service contract business, Atkinson said, adding that the company expects to “participate” in the recovery of this industry.

Dealernews editors are in the process of contacting participating dealers, as well as representatives of GSA and Assurant for details on this important announcement. We’ll provide additional information as we obtain it on this blog and at dealernews.com. For additional details on this story, visit dealernews.comJD

Contact me with news tips and story ideas
at 952/893-6876 or joe@powersportsupdate.com


Ride The Mountain with Big Bear Choppers

May 27, 2009

The custom V-twin industry might be comatose at the moment, but that’s no excuse to hang up your party hat. For business may be down, but there’s always them there motorcycles to ride. If you’re so inclined (that’s good mountain humor) why not ride them up to enjoy Big Bear Choppers‘ 7th Annual Ride the Mountain festivities.

The only thing missing are little people. No, wait, there will be little people! The Shorty's Kiss Band is playing.

The only thing missing are little people. No, wait, there will be little people! The Shorty's Kiss Band is playing.

V-twins and other rides will own the mountain resort village of Big Bear, Calif., and the Snow Summit Mountain Resort on Saturday, June 6. This year’s sky-high shindig features the Freak Show Deluxe featuring glass eating, glass walking, sword swallowing and the bed of nails. Also, San Francisco-area rock-a-billy rebels, the Chop Tops, will be kicking some musical ass.

As a nod to its customers, BBC (website here) is hosting a VIP lounge under an exclusive tent next to the factory big rig, with preferred parking, refreshments and a special shirt and VIP badge. On Sunday, June 7, the Mindfreak himself, Criss Angel, will be at the Big Bear Choppers facility signing autographs and flogging his magic.

Lest this seem like a commercial, I’ll add this about Big Bear Choppers: the business is really down in the dumps across all segments so it’s pretty cool to see one of the big boys holding strong with a rally/event aimed squarely at its customers, and riders in general. Knowing how cost-cutting works I’d imagine that this is the kind of event that often appears on the chopping block when looking for cost savings. I tip my helmet to Kevin, Mona and Andy up at BBC for keeping the mountain open for everyone.

Nord To Give Up CPSC Chair

May 27, 2009

Nancy Nord plans to step down as chair of CPSC but plans to stay on the commission until her term is completed in 2012. Thomas Moore takes her spot.

President Obama has nominated two persons for commissioner posts, and a fifth commissioner could be added in August.

I’ll have more about CPSC commission makeup soon.