LONG ISLAND KAWASAKI/YAMAHA/SKI-DOO
March 31, 2004
Filed under Features
67 North Broadway
Hicksville, NY 11801
516/935-6969 [fax 6953]
Michael Peck and Bill Edmonds
Founded in 1986; at present location for 15 years. The main showroom is 5,000 sq. ft., plus a building across the street that showcases used motorcycles and stores ATVs, jet boats, and personal watercraft. Carries full lines of Kawasaki (ATVs, Jet Ski personal watercraft, dirtbikes, and streetbikes) and Yamaha (ATVs, snowmobiles, WaveRunner personal watercraft, jet boats, streetbikes, dirtbikes, and generators), plus Ski-Doo snowmobiles. Largest-selling segments are cruiser, sportbike, and ATV, in that order. Number-one Kawasaki Ichiban dealer and number-three Yamaha dealer on the East Coast. 12 to 15 employees.
“I’m very concerned about areas to ride ATVs and dirtbikes on Long Island,” says Zeus Xarras, sales manager/general manager. “I’m offended by the fact that there is not a designated area — say 100 acres — for people in Long Island, New York City, or Queens to ride. They’re everywhere else. This is one of the most expensive places to live in the United States. There is plenty of land that the state of New York could give us so we could ride with our kids and families.”
Leaping to the front at Long Island: In cruisers, the Yamaha V-Star 1100, Road Star 1700/1600, and 650 Classic, plus the Kawasaki Vulcan 2000, Vulcan 1600, Vulcan Nomad, Drifter 1500, and Mean Streak, “which is going right after the Harley-Davidson V-Rod,” notes Xarras. “And now Kawasaki and Yamaha also have the hybrids — the ZRX 1100, the ZRX 1200, and the FZ-1 — which are also called ‘naked sportbikes.’ They’re really popular in Europe and on the West Coast. Ski-Doo is dominating the snowmobile world with the new Rev, which is short for ‘revolutionary chassis.’ Snowmobiles have become super sophisticated like PWC, with four-stroke motors instead of two-strokes. That means more efficient carburetion, better gas mileage, and they are quiet.” Long Island sells both utility and sport ATVs. For sportbikes and cruisers, Leading Edge sells many intercom systems, fairings, pipes, bags, backrests, custom wheels, and polishing services, which it sends out. “We customize a lot of brand-new bikes on the floor for people who say, ‘That’s what I want — I don’t want to go through the hassle of doing it.’ We may do full polishing on a bike, powder-coat the wheels, and put on a pipe and a power commander, which reprograms the fuel injection — although the horsepower is so high now that you really can’t put out much more. It has to do with personalizing the bike toward the customer’s preference. What you ride is an extension of you.”
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
“Baby Boomers who rode when they were young — whose kids are out of school — are coming back and buying bikes,” notes Xarras. “Some want sportbikes, or naked bikes, or cruisers.” Another trend he’s spotted: “Yamaha scooters. We’re selling them to high school and college students, or 40- to 60-year-old women. Yamaha’s scooters are thousands of dollars cheaper than the imported ones.” Xarras adds that the dealership “is very big on repeat customers, because people are happy with the service.”
Xarras understands that citizens of Long Island/Fire Island don’t want noise, pollution, and high speeds near shores and bird sanctuaries, “but some laws squeaked through that target personal watercraft, and they’re hypocritical. You can’t have a Jet Ski in certain areas, but they let boats go through.” He says that it makes the trend toward four-strokes — slowly weeding out the two-strokes” — even more important.
PARTS AND SERVICE
Leading Edge has a AAA-rated service department that has never been reported to the Better Business Bureau. There are four service technicians that attend annual schooling. Gina Insignia runs the wholesale parts department, which sells to other dealerships, and parts manager Michael Lotito, who has been in the business for 20 years and “does an excellent job,” notes Xarras, manages three parts salespeople.
WORDS OF ADVICE>B
“Don’t wholesale to the public,” advises Xarras. “There’s no reason to.”
— Julie Filatoff