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Sept. 4, 2006 – An expanding national presence

September 4, 2006
Filed under Features

BOISE, Idaho — Western Power Sports’ ongoing transition from a regional distributor to a national one will accelerate in the near future with planned expansions in facilities and personnel.
The Boise, Idaho-based distributor held its annual national sales meeting on Aug. 14-17, attracting the most vendors (43) its ever had. The bigger show is a reflection of the company’s growing reach in the industry.
Almost three years ago, Western Power Sports (WPS) reached outside its original territory, opening up a warehouse in Memphis, Tenn. That move led to a dramatic growth period, both in personnel and sales. It’s also led the company to look at further expanding its reach to where WPS President Craig Shoemaker is hoping to open up a warehouse in the Northeast sometime in the next year.
“I think it will be way more apparent in the next few years that we’ll be labeled more of a national distributor,” Shoemaker said in an interview with Powersports Business.
“I’m not saying … we’re there (size-wise) with Parts (Unlimited), or we’re there with Tucker (Rocky),” he said. “I’m not into that. I just want to do what works good, what works good for our vendors, what works good for us and allows us to stay strong and have a good sales force.”
What has worked has been a consistent growth pattern since the Memphis warehouse opened in 2003. Since that time, WPS has added substantially to its sales rep force, going from a group numbering in the 40s to one that’s nearing 70. The sales force increase has occurred throughout the United States, with considerable expansion in the Southeast, the East and the Northeast.
“We’ve been on a rocket ride and it’s been great,” Terry Baisley, WPS’ vice president of sales, said of the company, which before the Memphis warehouse did not have a sales rep east of Dallas. Now, Baisley said, WPS covers more than 90 percent of the nation with two-day shipping.
Along with the increased sales force has come increase annual sales. Shoemaker said WPS has seen a 20-25 percent growth in sales annually for the past four to five years.
To accommodate the growth in sales, WPS has expanded its management, going from having one national sales manager and one sales manager three years ago to having five regional sales managers, a national sales manager and a vice president of sales. Plus, Shoemaker said he is currently looking for more regional sales managers. And the personnel increases won’t stop there. On WPS’ list of to-dos is hiring two more IT employees, another purchasing position, another product manager and a graphics person.
To fit all the extra employees, WPS is planning an 8,000-square foot expansion to its home office in Boise, a project that is planned to start in the spring and conclude in the summer.
“We’re really about good growth though, not just crazy growth,” Shoemaker said.
WPS’ recent growth included expanding its Boise warehouse by 50,000 square feet and relocating its California warehouse from Sacramento to Fresno, a move that Baisley said improved the company’s next-day service in Southern California and out east, as far as Las Vegas and Phoenix.
Now, WPS is looking to the Northeast, where it sees expanded opportunities.
“There’s a lot of business out there,” Shoemaker said. “We meet with dealers and they say, ‘We really like you guys, but you’re just too far away.’ So in order to support good reps and good dealers, you have to be closer than three days for sure. We hit a lot of areas in two days, but there’s a lot of the Northeast that we don’t hit in two days.”
Besides additional facilities, WPS also has aggressively increased its number of vendors. This year alone, WPS has added about 50 vendors.
“For the past several years we’ve worked very, very hard on our ATV product end,” Baisley said, noting the company’s new ATV product catalog, due out shortly, will be larger than any of the company’s other catalogs.
“On the motorcycle end, we’ve advanced a ton in the street,” he said.
Baisley said the additions of Michelin, Leo Vince and other established labels have transformed WPS “from being a company that wasn’t looked to at all for street (aftermarket items) to being a fairly strong, go-to company in street.”
Where does WPS want to improve its product offerings in the future?
“I think there’s certain niches in the street market and some mainstay things that we’re continuing to look at and work with potential vendors on,” Baisley said, without mentioning specific vendors. “WPS hasn’t sit sat still in a number of years on the number of vendors that we’re adding each year. We’re trying to be smart in what we add and how we add.”
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