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Expo Spotlight

April 8, 2004
Filed under Features

Dowco, Inc., manufacturer of powersports vehicle covers, has launched the first of what will be a two-part brand makeover, and said its Guardian brand will become the dominant brand for all of its powersports products, including motorcycle, ATV, snowmobile and PWC covers and motorcycle luggage.

“Our goal is to create one dominant brand in the marketplace by building on the excellent reputation and strong awareness consumers have of our Guardian line,” Michael Kaczkowski, vice president of sales, told Powersports Business.

In the first phase of the brand rollout, Dowco’s Guardian cover becomes the WeatherAll Plus; the Protector line has been renamed Guardian WeatherAll; and the Legend line becomes Guardian UltraLite. New packaging, a new tagline – “Play for Keep” – and new logo have been created, and new product was scheduled to start shipping to dealerships in late January.

Kaczkowski said two reasons punctuated the brand makeover for the Wisconsin-based company. “In one case we saw there were a lot of competitors coming out with similar packaging and duplicating some of the things we had done in the past. But, in another case, we feel we may have been confusing the consumer a bit with all of our various brands.”

Scheduled to be revealed later in the year, the second phase of the roll-out will include the Dowco AquaGuard and the ATV line of products, which will also fall under the Guardian branding strategy.

Dowco plans to officially roll out its new brand strategy at the Dealer Expo in Indianapolis, Feb. 14–16, and says it will promote its new look with ads in trade and consumer publications and an aggressive marketing and public relations campaign.

New product to be shown at Indy includes ATV covers, ATV rack packs, handlebar and saddle bags; and, in motorcycle, custom bike covers, Iron Horse leather bags, a pull-behind roller version of the Rally Pack luggage and rain suits.

Founded by Herb and Ed Dow in 1922 as a tent and awning company serving local markets, Dowco was purchased by Charles Webster, Jr. in 1975 and continues to be owned privately.

The company serves powersports OEMs, the powersports aftermarket and the recreational marine industry. It distributes its products worldwide, working with Parts Unlimited, Motorcycle Stuff, Tucker Rocky, and a number of what Kaczkowski called “smaller” distributors.

“Our overall sales would classify us as a moderate size business in the market,” Kaczkowski said. “The company has had year-over-year growth for the past 10 years, and we think we’re at a good size, where we are nicely positioned for growth in product development and other expansions.”

All Dowco product design and most manufacturing is done in Wisconsin, with “some product produced internationally depending on the competitive environment,” Kaczkowski said.

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