Posts Tagged ‘Tucker Rocky’

Checking in with Tucker Rocky’s Steve Johnson

August 15, 2010

I didn’t have a chance to participate in Tucker Rocky’s national sales meeting in Texas last month, so I tracked down TR”s chief Steve Johnson to get his reaction to the five-day event and to see what he had going at the big Fort Worth-based national distributor.

Steve Johnson

The show was different this year, by design. More aimed at training and business improvement than entertainment and relationship-building. “This show was a lot more about product and selling product,” said Johnson. “It was less about fun and more about dealer training and how to run a good dealership.”

In Johnson’s view, the participating vendors and dealers “were more than positive, they were engaged” in what was going on. “A lot of people are still excited to be in this industry. But there’s a realization that there’s a new norm; it may come back a bit, but it’s going to be at a slower pace. You can’t expect 10%-15% compound growth. You have to hunker down and run your business as best you can. People were fully engaged; more so than ever before.”

Dennis Johnson, editor-in-chief of Dealernews magazine visited the show and did a nice job of reporting on the event in the August issue of the magazine. I’m not going to duplicate his efforts here, but Steve covered some interesting points in our conversation, many focusing on dealer training and customer service.

Big Push On Customer Service

As we chatted, Steve told me a story about customer service that came from his previous experience in the foodservice business. To paraphrase his story: There once was a large bakery that produced custom products for a high-end local grocery store. The big thing was fresh birthday cakes, made the same day and featuring custom greetings. It was an important item for the retailer and produced nice margins for both the bakery and the retailer. The cakes were always delivered on time, the names were spelled correctly, and everyone was happy. But one day, there was a mistake; a cake didn’t get produced for a birthday party that day. The customer went crazy, of course; what was she going to do for the party that afternoon?

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I Have Returned from Vacation

August 9, 2010

Joe Delmont

It’s always great to be on vacation, but it’s nice to be back, too. I’ve recently spent the better part of two weeks vacationing on a lake in northern Wisconsin with my wife, Bobbie, the three kids, Steve, Bryan, and Kate, and four grandkids. I golfed, read three novels, played with the grandkids, and spent too much time with a big, ol’ black Lab mutt named Jimmy, who visited every day. Jimmy is the only dog I every knew who retrieved rocks. That’s rocks, as in stones, big stones, that he would dig out of the bottom of the lake and then drop at your feet with a big, wet grin. Obviously, Jimmy doesn’t know the difference between a rock and a tennis ball.

Summer’s a busy time anyway, even without a vacation in the north woods. My wife and I have picked up two days of babysitting for the grandkids on Tuesday and Wednesday to save them some day care dollars. Four little bundles of energy, ranging from seven months to six years, each wanting lots of attention involving library visits (good), swimming lessons at the neighbor’s pool (not so good), and trips to the local kiddy park with juice and snacks (bad).

OK, I know I’ve said I want to spend time with the new generation, but it’s difficult to keep up. Bobbie and I don’t remember how we raised three kids of our own. Must have been some grandparents heavily involved in that schedule.

Story Backlog
At any rate, I’m back at the keyboard, and I’m looking at a stack of story notes. Tucker Rocky. Baja Motorsports. ITC’s investigation of intellectual property rights. CFMOTO’s suit against EPA. And a couple of other industry stories based upon research from Power Products Marketing, the Minneapolis research firm, plus my column for September Dealernews and the Dealer Lab report on Bill Shenk’s June performance—another profitable month.  I’m also heading to the Parts Unlimited show in Janesville and visiting the new Baja headquarters at the complex of its parent company TTI in Anderson, SC, at the end of the month.

And suddenly it’s September. Where has the year gone? JD

Contact me with story ideas and news tips at
jdelmont@dealernews.com or 612/845-8091.

Tucker Takes Bold Step in Digital Marketing

April 28, 2010

Distributor Offers Product Videos at http://www.Tuckerrocky.tv

When I talked with Steve Johnson, the boss of Tucker Rocky Dustributing, in January, we discussed the growing importance of digital marketing. I thought his comments certainly were interesting, but not hugely important for the industry or even for the company.

Steve Johnson

I was wrong. When we spoke again Monday I discovered how badly I had missed the mark. The Fort Worth-based distributor has taken steps that could significantly change the way powersports PG&A products are sold to consumers and dealers.

Very simply, Tucker has basically dropped its B2B and consumer print advertising in favor of product videos that are distributed through YouTube and Tucker’s own “TV station,” the website, www.tuckerrocky.tv.

In addition to TR house brands such as FirstGear, Answer, MSR, and ProTaper, the tuckeerrocky.tv site also carries videos featuring products from Arai, K&N, National Cycle, Ogio, PJ1, Scorpion, Bridgestone, and Cobra, among others. The videos are well produced and do an effective job of explaining and demonstrating the features and benefits of each product. Visit the site, and you’ll see what I mean.

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FirstGear TPG Apparel Road Test: There Will be Rain

February 22, 2010

Back in the fall, we had a chance to head out to Colorado with Tucker Rocky and FirstGear to check out the TPG lineup of apparel. This is pretty high-end stuff aimed at the hardcore adventure touring rider, the type of person who thinks nothing of clocking 50,000 miles a year on two-wheels, often in less-than-pristine conditions. I am not one of those people. However, I was up for a dual-sport ride through the Rockies with the chance of experiencing some weather and putting the TPG duds to the test. Well, we got weather. Rain. Sleet. Hail. All that stuff that’s mostly foreign to So Cal natives (me!). 

So, you’ve got to hand it to Tucker Rocky and FirstGear for picking a such a route and ride as a way to showcase the features of its TPG (Technical Performance Gear) apparel. They either had strong foresight into what we might encounter or had some major pull with certain parties to arrange that kind of weather.

Click here for the full story.

Tucker Rocky Changes Sales/Marketing Approach

January 23, 2010

Sales & Marketing Team Reorganized

A recent brief announcement out of Tucker Rocky Distributing about changes in the marketing department piqued my interest. The note said that long-time marketing and advertising guy Stephan Ulbrich was no longer with the big national Fort Worth-based distributor. Several other reassignments were also mentioned. The moves followed the

Steve Johnson

departure of another long-time TR marketing executive, Tim Pritchard, vice president of sales and marketing, who left the company in October after eight years with the distributor.

What was up with the changes, I wondered? So I called Steve Johnson, TR’s president and COO. It turns out that the personnel changes reflect a significant shift in the way TR is working with its customers, both on the supplier side and on the dealer side.

The departed ex-employees aren’t talking, of course, but here’s the story, as Steve discussed it with me.

“It was clear to me that we needed new leadership in the sales and marketing area,” Johnson told me. ” Tim had been here many years and we had a philosophical difference on how to run the company, so I made a change.”

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Arai, Shoei Unveil Models, but How Are High-End Sales?

November 1, 2009

Opener[1]The embargo on Arai’s new RX-Q street helmet ends today, and I’m thrilled to see the Dealernews.com article on it comes up No. 2 in a Google search. (Click here to read it.) The folks at Arai stopped by our office a couple of weeks ago to give us a presentation, and left us with information and images. They didn’t donate samples because they only had a few, including a size medium straight from Japan. I tried it on, and (surprise, surprise) it felt great. Qualitywise, this will be another winner hitting the market in late December or early January and retailing for roughly $675.

Does the price sound kinda high? Arai says it’s positioning the RX-Q between the Profile and Corsair-V. In fact, the company is marketing the model as a Corsair-V for the street. I think the helmet is a knockout, but how eager are dealers right now to stock this price point? Tucker Rocky president Steve Johnson told me this past summer that sales of high-end brands are suffering the most. He even mentioned Arai as an example.

Then again, Arai’s timing may not be as bad as it seems. I just heard on TV that the recession is technically over due to the rise in GDP. And although unemployment will remain high for a while, people who haven’t lost their jobs should feel more confident they won’t — and may start spending again. (more…)

The Good and Bad of MAP Policies

October 9, 2009

Low_Price_Guarantee[1]As PG&A inventories remain bloated, the dangers of heavy discounting mount. Brands take a wallop once their suggested retail prices become a running joke on eBay. To combat this, we’ve long had minimum advertised pricing (MAP) policies.

But dealers have mixed feelings about these policies. Some dealers don’t like them, period. The market should dictate prices, they say. Most dealers like the idea of MAP pricing, but they hate the policies of specific vendors or distributors. Or, perhaps more often, they resent policies that aren’t strictly enforced.

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Frank Esposito Enjoys Kendon Gig

April 26, 2009

These Are Happy Times After Pain of Global/Custom Chrome

Frank Esposito, perhaps best known for playing top roles at two of this industry’s largest distribution companies, today is relaxed and having fun as president of Kendon Industries, a small California trailer manufacturer that produces a line of motorcycle lifts and unique folding trailers.

He joined the Anaheim company in January after having been dropped by Global Motorsports Group (GMG) last summer as the company reorganized under new ownership after stumbling out of messy bankruptcy proceedings.

Frank Esposito

Frank Esposito

GMG had been owned by Cerberus Capital Management LP, the cutthroat New York-based international investment group and had struggled with inventory and cash shortages for many years under GMG management.

Esposito had joined Global as president in August 2002 and spent six tough, grinding years trying to balance the needs of suppliers and dealers under Cerberus’s tight-fisted management. His sudden termination last summer came as a surprise to many in the industry, who thought he would play a leading rule for the Global companies as they limped ahead under new ownership.

“I want to recognize the vendors who supported me at Global,” says Esposito. “Kendon was at the top of the heap; they carried receivables that were immense, and we about killed them and many other vendors.”

Despite his pain at Global, Esposito says he has no regrets about the experience. “It was an incredible education,” he says. “It was a first-hand look at evil and corruption, and I’m very proud that I was instrumental in getting vendors paid.”

One of the first calls Esposito received following news of his departure, was from long-time friends Ken and Tina Thurm, who offered him a job in their small, family-owned company. The small trailer business was a long step from the much larger international GMG operation, and the Thurms were somewhat hesitant to offer Esposito a job.

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Wanted: Copy Editor

February 6, 2009

Has anyone else noticed the photo used on Parts Unlimited’s 2009 Street Catalog features a rider in a Speed & Strength jacket?

I visited Hitching Post, my local dealership, this morning to kick some tires and talk shop. The dealership received its 2009 PU Street catalog yesterday. The PG&A guys thought I’d be interested in the cover art. I was.

Speed & Strength is a new apparel brand from Tucker Rocky Distributing.

Arctic Cat, Tucker Rocky Do The Baja 1000

December 4, 2008

A couple of weeks ago I posted news that Johnny Campbell set a new record by winning his 11th Baja 1000 arcticcatbaja1000 atop a motorcycle. Well, news keeps trickling out from various sources about other “firsts”. The latest news comes from Arctic Cat and Tucker Rocky Distributing.

The other day I received an e-mail from Arctic Cat announcing that a pair of stock Arctic Cat Prowlers beat the brutal conditions to finish first and second place in the world’s longest, continuous off-road race. It was the first time in race history a side-by-side UTV vehicle finished what is widely regarded as the most grueling off-road race in the world.

Finishing first in the 634-mile race with a time of 27 hours and 57 minutes was a stock 2009 Prowler XTZ 1000 driven by Bi-Polar team co-owner and driver Jim Creagan and co-pilot Tim Wagner for the first 409 miles, followed by driver/co-driver Chris Fallon and Aaron Bahner for the remainder of the course.

Taking second place at 28 hours and 13 minutes was a 2009 Prowler XTX 700 EFI driven by three driver/co-driver combinations: Shane Morgan and Tabor Cresap, Scott Sorenson and Justin Serface, and Casey Squires and Mike Connors.

It was just the second attempt at the Baja 1000 for the Bi-Polar/Arctic Cat team. In 2007 they made it to mile-810 before succumbing to a broken suspension bolt. They returned this year, ready to prove the Prowler’s durability and to support their sponsors: Arctic Cat, Wired Energy Drink, Vision X Lighting, GBC Motorsports, TrailReady Beadlock Rims and King Shocks.

TR & SUPPLIERS
The 2008 Baja 1000 also served as the first time a U.S.-based distributor has taken an active role in the race.

The TR-sponsored race team (from left to right) included Brent Durfee, Brandon Baldwin, Lance Kerr, Tim Pritchard, Dave Cullinan and Brian Cornelius.

The TR-sponsored race team (from left to right) included Brent Durfee, Brandon Baldwin, Lance Kerr, Tim Pritchard, Dave Cullinan and Brian Cornelius.

Tucker Rocky teamed up with Dunlop, Motion Pro, Two Brothers Racing, and Motorex to race the Baja 1000 this year. Each company fielded a rider, which is the first time a group of key industry companies and personnel have teamed up for such a race.

The team consisted of Dunlop’s West Coast Sales Manager Brent Durfee, Motion Pro’s Director of Sales and Marketing Brandon Baldwin, Two Brothers Racing Director of Business Development Dave Cullinan, Motorex/Paragon Powersports Brian Cornelius, Tucker Rocky’s VP of Sales and Marketing Tim Pritchard, and Tucker Rocky’s Offroad Sales Specialist Lance Kerr. The crew chief for the team was Jimmy Sones from Malcolm Smith Adventures and the chase team was staffed by Tucker Rocky’s Director of Sales Del Munoz and Sales Rep’s Mike Schmahl and Malcolm Bottorff as well as Montclair Yamaha’s Vadime Miline.

The industry team finished 6th in the Sportsman class which was a great accomplishment but with a logistical error (they missed a pit and ran out of gas but fortunately the Mexican Police department picked up the rider an hour later and took him to the closest pit for fuel) and some damage to the sprocket and chain (the sprocket was severely bent and chain derailed) the team still finished within two hours and 39 minutes behind first place. The total time down from the gas and sprocket incidents was over three hours. Till that time (less than 80 miles left in the race) the team was poised for an incredibly strong finish.

The team was sponsored by Dunlop, Motion Pro, Two Bros, Motorex, Yuasa, Gaerne, EVS, MSR, Pro Taper and Tucker Rocky. The bike was a race prepped Honda CRF450x which performed great for the entire race (at least when it had gas in it). The JCR Honda pit crew did a great job as well. The team also thanks it’s sponsors as well as Malcolm Smith for his help and participation.