May 6, 2004
Filed under Features
70 Route 10 W
Whippany, NJ 07981
Founded in 1982; at present location (its third) for two years. 22,000-sq.-ft. building plus 10,000-sq.-ft. off-site warehouse. (Last site was 8,000 sq. ft.) Carries Honda (including power equipment, but not PWC), Yamaha (except PWC), KTM off-road motorcycles, and Stihl chainsaws and power equipment.
“Our revenue is split into thirds, with one-third dirtbikes, one-third street motorcycles, and one-third ATVs,” says Amato. “Snowmobiles are really just a niche business for us.” Amato says that Yamaha is listening to its dealers and has worked “very hard” to make it easier to do business. “We really appreciate that.” 28 employees.
“Some sportbike models are getting a little carried away with speed and horsepower,” says Amato. “That’s the way the industry goes —performance sells. But these are race bikes sold to the public. It’s potentially a black eye for our industry.”
The Hanover salespeople stress MSF rider training, “whether the customer has been riding for years or is new. The course has been really good for business, and for riders in general. We find that customers who take those courses tend to enjoy motorcycling more, stay in it longer, and come back to trade up for bigger bikes.”
Best-selling Hondas include the 400 EX and Rincon 650 ATVs, the CRF 450 dirtbike, the VTX 1300 cruiser, and the CBR 600RR sportbike. Hot Yamahas include the Grizzly and Kodiak ATVs, the YZ250F dirtbike, and “the R6 sportbike is still on fire.”
Amato says he is “two years into my KTM dealership, so I’m pretty new.” Hot-selling KTM models include the EXC enduro line, especially the EXC 450.
As for snowmobiles, “There are a lot of models to keep up with.” In PG&A, Hanover’s biggest movers are HJC, Shoei, and Arai helmets, and Dunlop tires.
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
Hanover Honda-Yamaha is in Morris County and borders Essex County. “Morris County has the highest household income in the New Jersey,” says Amato. Firms in the area include Verizon, Honeywell, and Exxon. AT&T and Lucent used to be dominant, but have scaled down.
“Our bread-and-butter customer is 35 to 45 years old. 9/11 affected us somewhat, since we’re close to New York City.” Amato says the trend he has seen is that customers come into the dealership knowing what they want.
“They go on the Internet and are very much informed. They may want to compare two models — a Honda versus a Yamaha. Our sales force has to be even more in tune with the product than we have in the past. The customer wants to be sure that the salesperson gives him the right information, and can pick up right away if he’s not sharp.”
Amato calls New Jersey “a very populous state, but with quite a few really pristine riding areas. But Gov. James McGreevey, who was voted in last year, is a real environmentalist. He has virtually shut down all public lands to off-road vehicles. There’s no warning; it’s a $1,000 fine.
“There’s one legal riding place in South Jersey, and we’re trying to get an ORV park in the north. The state is not willing to designate any land — they want to give us garbage dumps and areas that need to be cleaned up. One-third of the state was originally designated as the Pine Barons Riding Area, but a lot of events — like an enduro that ran for 35 years — cannot get a permit from the state. Our dirtbike sales are off and ATV sales are a little flat, but our customers are starting to find some for-profit riding parks in Pennsylvania.”
PARTS AND SERVICE
Hanover’s parts department has seven employees, and the service department has eight (including five service technicians).
“We created a new position this year, shop coordinator, to help the mechanics and be a go-between with the parts department.”
WORDS OF ADVICE
“Get involved in the industry,” advises Amato. “Be concerned about issues like land closure and safety. I really don’t think that helmet-law repeal is good for our business. Pennsylvania just repealed its law. Even some dealers pushed for that. I’m concerned about young people getting on motorcycles and having a fatal crash — where if they were wearing a helmet, they could have walked away. These statistics matter. People who don’t ride see them and get the wrong impression.”