FOCUS – Genuine Scores with Stella
November 17, 2004
Filed under Features
Philip McCaleb owns Genuine Scooter Company, theChicago-based supplier of the Stella brand of scooter.
Using a classic design from Italy but assembled in India, the 150cc Stella (MSRP $2,899) debuted in the United States in March 2003. Available in four colors, the all-steel scoot comes with Bitubo gas shocks, Continental Zippy tires, a Grimeca disc brake, and a five-port reed valve motor catalyzed to meet Federal emissions standards in 49 states, California excluded.
“We spent nearly two years making changes and upgrades, and created, together with our manufacturer in Asia, the first homologated two stroke, manual-shift scooter available in the USA since the mid-80’s,” McCaleb told Powersports Business.
McCaleb’s business partner in India, the actual manufacturer of the Stella, is LML Limited.
Based in New Delhi, LML Limited — incorporated in 1972 as Lohia Machines Private Limited — entered the scooter business in 1983 in technical collaboration with Piaggio of Italy. While the collaboration with Piaggio came to an end in late 1999, the company retained Piaggio blueprints and tooling and bolstered its distribution network to 40 countries. McCaleb says “business has been very, very good” since the scoot’s introduction into the U.S.
“We’re looking at 45% growth this year compared to last,” McCaleb said. “Next year, I’m aiming to move 2,500 bikes.”
Genuine currently services 57 dealers; McCaleb says he plans to end 2005 with 80.
“We’re looking at major metropolitan areas, but always are interested in retailers that can offer bonified selling skills and passion for the vintage product,” he said. Genuine began floorplan financing through GE in October, and offers end-user financing through Sparta.
For 2005, McCaleb expects to have “a very cool and unique” retro 50cc, a 100cc, and a 200cc retro big-wheel scooter — all automatics and four-strokes. He also plans to enter California with a direct-injection motor sourced from Siemens and Orbital.
“Plus, I’m doing three special editions in the next year,” McCaleb said. “There’s a Ferrara Atomic Fireball version for Christmas, then comes an homage to Italy with the Series Italia; and in the summer, for the fourth of July, I’m doing one with Black Cat firecrackers. Depending on sales, we’ll probably do 100 to 200 per shot.”
McCaleb is looking to Europe for expansion, too, and with the good graces of LML, introduced the Stella to the European community with a display at Intermot, the international motorcycle show in Munich, Germany.
The Stella has been approved in Europe and will be offered in both two-stroke 125cc and 150cc models beginning in January of 2005. “We think we can develop a niche market for our traditional manual-shift scooter and be competitively priced, appealing to those older scooter buyers who love the tradition and character of our bikes,” said Genuine representative and dealer Bob Hedstrom. So far, McCaleb has found six importers and distributors in Europe. The idea is to have one per country, he said.
Dealing in vintage or modern Vespa and
looking for a place to obtain replacement
or hop-up parts? Check out McCaleb’s
other business, Scooterworks USA, Inc.
Started in 1989, Scooterworks USA process a couple of thousand wholesale and retail orders each month and printed approximately 50,000 catalogs last year. McCaleb said the plan for 2005 is to is to expand the company with a new catalog offering accessories and performance parts for modern automatic scooters.
“It’ll be for the more well-known brands, such as Kymco, Aprilia and TN’G – the people who have been around long enough to create an aftermarket,” he said.