Posts Tagged ‘Dealer Expo’

Business Seminar Helps Chinese Manufacturers

February 21, 2011

Panelists’ Message: U.S. Consumers Want Quality and Value

INDIANAPOLIS (Feb. 21, 2011)— Chinese manufacturers Sunday received several tips on how to successfully sell powersports vehicles and equipment in the United States. The seminar here was put on by the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) and Advanstar Communications for Chinese exhibitors before a packed house at this year’s Dealer Expo.

Attendees heard from government and industry experts about what it takes to successfully sell powersports equipment in the U.S. market. Presenters included representatives of Sargent’s Motorsports Groups, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and Dealernews magazine. The program, entitled, How To Successfully Sell Powersports Vehicles in the United States, was moderated by Paul Vitrano, executive vice president of the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA).

The key messages delivered by panelists were:

  • QUALITY PAYS. Attendees were told that American consumers value quality over cost and that they are willing to pay more for a better product.
  • OBEY THE RULES. Panelists, especially representatives of the CPSC, emphasized the importance of following U.S. government rules and regulations. “Government agencies balance their responsibilities of helping businesses with protecting consumers,” Vitrano said, “and they lean toward protecting consumers.” Penalties for breaking the rules are stiff and expensive, attendees were told.

Joe Delmont, contributing editor for Dealernews, told the audience that it’s important to build a brand, not simply try to export products to the U.S. under many different names to be sold by many different distributors. “That’s a prescription for failure,” he said.

Delmont, who provided a checklist of things to consider in looking at the U.S. market, told the audience that to gain 5% market share in a specific segment for a new China brand might take three years and cost as much as $300 million.

CPSC representatives Tanya Topka and Justin Jirgl described in detail the process of working with the agency that has been set up under the 2008 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). A key regulation developed by the CPSC under the law calls for action plans to be approved by the agency before a company’s ATVs may be sold in the U.S.

Gary Sargent, Sr., and Gary Sargent, Jr., have been selling and servicing powersports equipment in their Portland, OR. dealership for more than seven years. They emphasized the importance of building quality machines and backing them with quality parts.

Gary Jr., who runs the dealership’s service operation, told attendees that he prefers to use more expensive, quality parts on a repair job and be confident that it won’t fail.

“I want satisfied customers,” he said, “not unhappy customers who come back because a part failed.”   JD

Bika Chik fashion show at Dealer Expo

February 20, 2011

It’s kind of a well-known fact that men’s motorcycle apparel exponentially outnumbers women’s apparel  — the complete opposite of how it works in everyday casual wear, where women’s apparel dominates. But luckily for us ladies — and judging from what I’ve seen on the Dealer Expo show floor this weekend — there are some great women’s clothing companies out there holding down the fort. Designer Jeanette Keller’s Bika Chik is one example. A few minutes ago, I caught its fashion show at the Fashion Forward stage, and besides all those cozy graphic tees, there were two things that stood out to me as possible hot-sellers:

Embroidered leather vest. This looked even better on the model than it does in this stock photo. It’s fitted, and a tiny bit on the cropped side, which makes it great for riding. The front has all kinds of edgy zippers and a small upper pocket design, along with two front pockets and a button-waist. The back is embroidered and studded with Swarovski crystals. Comes in black, in sizes S to XL.






Leather jacket with fringe. A little bit of fringe never hurt anyone. Just like the vest, it has an embroidered skull design on the back to bring some edge to the girly design. It currently comes in pink, but I wonder if Bika Chik will offer this in black as well, in the future. Comes in sizes S to XL.

A bonus: Prices are pretty affordable, too.

If you’re at Dealer Expo, you can find Bika Chik Wear in Booth 5653. Otherwise, contact the company directly by visiting and clicking on the “contact us” button.

— Cynthia Furey

Straight From the Dealers’ Mouths

April 1, 2010

This story originally appeared in the Dealernews April 2010 issue. 

Dealer Expo has come and gone for another year. You came. You bought. You shivered.

Seems like each year in the run-up to the Indy show there’s talk parsing the benefits of attending, and this year was no exception. It was especially loud out there in blogland where it seemed quite a few powersports experts offered their opinions on why or why not a person should bundle up and head to Indianapolis.

In the years I’ve been with Dealernews I’ve heard the same complaints every year. It’s too far. It’s too cold. The location sucks. Traveling costs are too high. It’s too costly to exhibit. All are legitimate concerns, especially the latter two given the sorry state of the economy and its effect on the industry.

The only thing is, among the loose-floating opinions dropping around the Internet (where everyone’s an expert!) and the industry, I didn’t hear anything from the dealers — you know, the folks for whom this show is intended.

So in a highly unscientific study that would pass no serious scrutiny whatsoever, I decided to survey dealers who actually attended Dealer Expo and took advantage of the Full Throttle Dealer Lounge that we set up. Yes this is a recipe for loaded data, but I wanted real feedback from those who take the show seriously.

Working from a list of these dealer principals, GMs and parts managers, I contacted them specific business benefits they get from attending the show, any stand-out products they saw and any drawbacks from going to Dealer Expo. Seems the primary reasons for attending the show are meeting suppliers in person, getting to see new products up close, and taking advantage of show discounts and other ordering specials.

Ryan Moore, parts manager at Athens Sport Cycles in Athens, Ohio, cited the opportunity to see new display ideas and learn some key selling points, in addition to researching delayed-billing options and dating terms. Moore added that while he didn’t see any products he could live without, and that he can understand why the location is difficult for some dealers, “I can’t see why anyone would not attend the Expo. Even if they didn’t take advantage of the purchasing deals available, it’s worth the product knowledge you can gain.”

Another attendee, Derek Osner, the parts manager at Crossroad Powersports in Upper Darby, Pa., said he noticed distributors were really willing to work with stores given the economy, and that he appreciated that the show’s layout allowed him to find the things he needed to find. He also took advantage of show specials. “Seeing all the new products before everyone else gives us a jump on the competition even if it’s only for a little while,” he said. “You get to see the people you talk to on the phone every day. It’s nice to get my ass kissed vs. kissing other people’s asses!”

Relationship-building is another reason many come back. Alex Horeczko and Scott Dudek, co-owners of Extreme Supply in Signal Hill, Calif., says the show is a great place to see everybody under one roof — despite the logistical problems (winter, flight delays, etc.) of getting there. “We debate annually if we should attend the show, and year after year, we always find some new products or a meeting that made the expense and time of the show worth it,” they said.

Horeczko added that one business benefit is “supporting the industry by doing our part to make the show a success so the vendors continue coming year after year to do business.”

Personally, I get a charge out of Dealer Expo. It’s very easy in the monthly schedule of producing a magazine, and daily grind of keeping our website fresh, to get bogged down with what feels like work. The show is an excellent reminder that I work in the motorcycle industry, that I’m surrounded by some of the coolest gear, gadgets and gizmos money can buy, and that I get to talk with and write about the most creative, intelligent, ingenious and fun-loving people I’ll ever know.

This may sound like I’m blowing sunshine, but it’s true. There’s no other industry like ours. For goodness sake, I could be working at a trade magazine covering the paper products industry. Blech.

But don’t take my word for it. Danny Manthis, co-owner of Doug Douglas Motorcycles in San Bernardino, Calif., had this to say about Dealer Expo. “The size of the show in its own way is an inspiration to a smaller dealership like mine. Why I say that is [because of] the number of vendors and the size of the crowd all there at Indy in the middle of winter for one specific reason: an interest in powersports. This makes me want to be, and glad to be, part of this industry.”

Have anything to add? Let us know.

Dennis Johnson
Editor in Chief

Bank Lending Will Improve— Slowly

February 22, 2010

Says Chamber of Commerce Economist at Dealer Expo

INDIANAPOLIS — If you’re looking for working capital for your small business, don’t count on getting it from your local banker any time soon, says a leading economist. Martin Regalia, chief economist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told a gathering of business executives at the Dealer Expo here it will take about six months for banks to return to “normal lending practices.”

Martin Regalia

Speaking at the annual meeting of the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC), Regalia said that it will take time for banks to define the risks— financial and regulatory— before they feel comfortable lending again.

“The biggest factor in getting banks lending again is time,” said Regalia. “Banks are in it to make money like everybody else, and contrary to what the president says, you cannot run a free enterprise system without risk.

“Risk is what we all take. It’s what we all manage, and it’s why we make the money we do. Without risk, there is no return—nobody pays you for certainty. So, banks are in it to manage risk. As time goes on a little bit, they will get a better feel for that risk, and they will begin to lend, and they will probably, at some point down the road, overshoot again and under price and over lend to the risk. But that takes time.”


U.S. Economic Outlook Turns MIC Breakfast Sour

February 22, 2010

Very Slow Growth Expected In Foreseeable Future

INDIANAPOLIS, In.  (Feb.22)—  Looking for the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the U.S. economy this year? Well, we heard all about it during the Motorcycle Industry Council’s annual meeting at the Dealer Expo here.

Martin Regalia

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s chief economist, Martin Regalia, plopped the unpleasant news right in the middle our breakfast coffee and donuts in a most unappealing fashion. Unfortunately, the bad and the ugly outweighed the good by a wide margin.

Regalia saved his heaviest punches for President Obama’s new budget. But more about that later.

Here’s Regalia’s outlook, in a nutshell:

The Good: We’re coming out of the recession, although very slowly.

The Bad: We’re not growing fast enough to replace all the jobs we lost, among other things

The Ugly: We’re staggering under so much federal spending that we may never get the budget (more…)

SOKON USA Offers UTV Alternative

February 13, 2010

News From 2010 International Dealer Expo

Mini Truck To Sell for Less Than $15,000

INDIANAPOLIS, IN. (Feb. 13, 2010)—Mike Lewis and Hal Ferrell are a couple of good ol’ boys from Mississippi, who noticed that hunters wanted a 4×4 that no manufacturer was willing to build for them. They saw hunters customizing used mini trucks imported from Japan and China for backwoods transportation. The trucks had plenty of warts and problems, but they had cabs and heat and doors and roll-up windows.

Hal Ferrell, left, and Michael Lewis of Sokon USA, pose in their Sarge truck at the Dealer Expo in Indianapolis, In. Photo by Branimir Kvartuc

“They had right hand steering, no warranty, no parts, no service, no single sourcing, no dealers, the clearance was too low, and the cockpit was too small for Americans,” says Ferrell, president and CEO.

“But Bubba wanted it,” said CFO Lewis, jumping into our conversation Saturday, “and Bubba bought it and fixed it up to suit his needs because that’s all that was available. But we knew that source would be gone as soon as the EPA tightened its regs. The consumer was speaking very loudly to the industry, but no one was listening. We thought we saw a niche there.”

Numbers were difficult to come by, but the pair knew that container loads of the small trucks (sometimes called keis) were being shipped in and sold by Mom and Pop operations across the country. That was about three years ago.

The pair jumped in, sourced a truck in China and launched a company called Mattrucks. They offered a prototype at the 2007 Dealer Expo and took deposits from about 50 dealers. Unfortunately, the first container load of eight prototypes was a disaster when tested; the drive train was a mess and the Ferrell-Lewis team finally dropped the Chinese factory, refunded dealer deposits and rolled up the company.

Now they’re sourcing from DFM, a subsidiary of Chongqing Yuan Group, an established auto, truck and engine manufacturer. It produces more than 100,000 engines each year, and has an annual production capacity of 300,000 motorcycles and 100,000 minivans, according to its website. You can check it out here. The 4WD truck being shown under the SARGE brand in Booth #5715 sports an 1100cc engine, has 45 hp, and a top speed of 25 mph, which classifies it as a low speed vehicle (LSV). It’s an off-road vehicle but it’s street legal, depending upon state and local regulations.

It weighs just over one ton and carries five passengers. It comes with a short bed (55 inches) or a long one (65 inches).

The SARGE will MSRP for about $14,500 and will be available this summer to take advantage of the fall hunting market. That makes it price competitive with comparably equipped UTVs, Ferrell and Lewis believe. With its safety cab, heater, doors, windows, security and on-road capability, Ferrell and Lewis think the SARGE will appeal to older hunters as well as customers in construction, golf course management, ranching, farming and government. “We see this as head-to-head competition with UTVs, depending upon use,” says Lewis. UTV sales were about 200,000 units last year.

Ferrell plans to add 50 dealers by this summer, and ultimately have an operating network of 500 U.S. dealers. It’s not a business opportunity for everyone, though. Floor planning won’t be available, so dealers will have to be well capitalized to fund the operation themselves.

For more information, visit Sokon’s website, JD

Contact me with news and story tips at 952/893-6876

CFMOTO Offers New Z6 600cc EFI Rec UTV

February 13, 2010

News From 2010 International Dealer Expo

INDIANAPOLIS, IN. (Feb. 13, 2010)—CFMOTO reduced its Dealer Expo commitment this year but that doesn’t mean it’s backing off its marketing efforts. The Minneapolis company is introducing two EFI products at the Expo— a hot 600cc recreational UTV and a 250cc scooter—, it’s offering 30% show special discounts on 2009 scooters and motorcycles, and it’s planning to increase its dealer network by 75 dealers, a jump of nearly 40% this year.

The company ran a large 60 x 70 foot booth in a premium spot in Lucas Oil Stadium and augmented it with advertising and promotion efforts throughout last year’s show. It was a huge—and very successful— push by a small, relatively unknown company. But this year is different: a 30 x 40 foot booth (#2201) and limited promotions.

CFMOTO sports its UTV lineup, led by its new 600cc EFI Z6. It also shows off its new JetMax 250cc EFI scooter.

“Last year was definitely worth the expense,” says Lev Mirman, president of CFMOTO Powersports, Inc. “The show was absolutely great for us. If it weren’t for the economy… We’re just basically saving money and downsizing because this recession isn’t over.”

CFMOTO has a lower profile at Dealer Expo this year, but it new Z6 sport UTV and its Jetmax scooter are worth a look.

The Z6 bears a striking resemblance to the very hot Polaris RZR, but it sells for a lot less— MSRP is $7,999. “However, dealers will be able to give discounts off MSRP,” says Mirman. “Pricing includes significant margin so they can entice customers with a lower price or accessories. That’s up to the dealer.”

Mirman said units will be available in dealerships May 1. The initial shipment will be 200 units. “We’ll check response; the factory is ready to ship a lot of units, but they’re being very careful.” The Z6 power plant has been in development for more than three years, so the bugs have been worked out, he says.

The JetMax was showed here last year as a carbureted version but that model wasn’t brought to market. The EFI version has an MSRP of $3,999 and will be available in April.

CFMOTO has about 200 dealers, some 140 of whom are active. Mirman plans to add 75 dealers this year, mostly in areas west of Colorado, including Hawaii and Alaska. Ivan Escalante ( is responsible for signing up western dealers.  JD

Contact me with news and story tips at 952/893-6876

Dealer Expo: A Valuable Investment

February 11, 2010

Dealer Expo: Is it worth the time and expense for dealers?

Probably not, unless you want to participate in our industry’s biggest business meeting of the year.

Unless you want to discuss store operations with your peers for four days.

Unless you want to see and touch the latest P&A items.

Unless you want to meet new suppliers not carried by your distributors.

Unless you want to see and talk with new OEMs on your terms.

Unless you want to pick up enough new operating ideas in seminars to pay your trip expenses many times over.

Unless… well, the answer is obvious, isn’t it?

Let’s talk when you’re at Indy this weekend. JD

Powersports: The Lost Decade? Not Really

February 1, 2010

This story originally appeared in the Dealernews February 2010 issue.

I have yet to see the final MIC numbers for 2009, but dealers likely retailed about 500,000 new motorcycles and scooters made by the major brands. This is roughly the same number they retailed in the late 1990s. For all you industry veterans, wouldn’t it be great if you could just downsize to your 1999 staffing and advertising levels, and call it good? The OEMs and aftermarket could do the same. With all the recent layoffs, maybe that’s what they’ve had in mind.

If only it were that easy. For one thing, technology and the Internet have changed how business is done. Today there are dealership duties that didn’t exist a decade ago. Even our favorite V-twin hippie, Rick Fairless, has computer people on staff. Turn to page 18 for some insight into how he’s built one of the smartest websites I’ve visited. It’s plain fun.

Technology doesn’t necessarily mean more overhead: It can save money in man-hours and advertising. Fairless, for example, explains how he’s stopped spending money on the Yellow Pages. Another columnist, Eric Anderson (page 28), talks this month about digital signage that acts as a silent salesperson on steroids. (more…)

Big Dog Motorcycles Does Indy

January 13, 2010

In these shaky, gloomy times it’s nice to do some horn tooting now and again. So let me take this chance to toot the collective horns of Dealernews and our Big Boss, Advanstar. In his New Year’s missive to the media and his company’s suppliers, Big Dog Motorcycles CEO Sheldon Coleman announces that he’ll only be attending one tradeshow this year — the Dealernews International Powersports Dealer Expo! Hooray for us, though the reason behind this decision is sobering. 

In Coleman’s words:

As a reminder, we have decided to focus our energies on only one of the two February trade shows for this year. In the past, we have tried to accommodate both the Cincinnati V-Twin Expo and the Indianapolis Powersports Dealer Expo into our schedule and budget. Unfortunately, this year we had to choose between these two find events.

As previously announced, for 2010, Big Dog Motorcycles will only be exhibiting at the Indianapolis Dealer Expo (February 12-15).

We have enjoyed the years of exhibiting at Cincinnati and will miss exhibiting this year at this excellent show. We are respectful of all that Easyriders does for the industry, and are appreciative of the many awards we have achieved at this event. Hopefully next year our budget will allow us to return.

In the meantime, we are pleased to attend the Dealernews Powersports Dealer Expo with our Big Dog booth and factory team.

OK, let me lay down my horn.