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May 4, 2009 – Industry Leader: Philip McCaleb, Genuine Scooter Co.

May 4, 2009
Filed under Features

President Philip McCaleb led Genuine Scooter Co. to record sales last year. The company sold more than 12,000 vehicles in 2008, a 178 percent increase over the prior year. McCaleb continues to lead his company by emphasizing the importance of dealer 20 groups. Genuine Scooter Co. and Gart Sutton teamed up to create what has been said to be the first set of 20 group meetings dedicated to scooter dealerships. McCaleb also started Scooterworks Direct, a growing aftermarket distributor geared toward scooters. To support the distributor’s growth, the company opened a 50,000-square-foot, 28-foot-high warehouse in Chicago in early March. McCaleb says the company saw a 91 percent gain in volume in 2008 over the previous year and expects more growth this year.

What’s the biggest challenge for the industry, and what should be done about it?

Fear. I think dealers are largely unprepared for any change in consumer spending habits as well as unprepared for the exercise of refocusing on the profit loss and expense side of their businesses, which have been tentative at best for the last several years. What should be done about it? Clean your house. Clean your books. Get back to real basic things. A recession is a challenging opportunity to look at yourself, how you do business and how you can get stronger. It’s not a permanent event, but it’s a debilitating sickness when fear takes over. Drastic times call for drastic changes. Ask yourself if you love it enough to make it work better. Sign up for a dealer
20 group. If you’re not afraid to be vulnerable and share with others more experienced where you’re bleeding, you invest in yourself with a 20 group and come out with a bigger market share and a more focused business. We want to be a catalyst for teaching better business practices. I really believe that is above anything else, how to deal with fear. I truly in my heart believe it because it ultimately calls attention to the fact that people have to change. They have to change their model of doing business. The dollars are recreational and our business is not. Our business is set up now to cater to alternative transportation, less cool tool and more ditch the car and ride the scooter cheap.

What’s been the biggest challenge in your current position, and how have you dealt with it?

Last year was a bonanza. This year there’s some adversity. That disconnect between those two realities creates a lot of fear. Overcome the fear and remind everyone that it’s going to be OK. You need to have personal conversations and pep talks with principles. We have our own 20 groups and a strong presence in frequent communication between our reps and our dealers. Minnesota is a perfect example. You got snow last week and our business is kicking into absolute full gear there because we have a great dealer who knows how to run the show. He’s leading other dealers around the country into the realm of calm, prepared, trained, armed and dangerous.

What’s the best advice you can give to others in the industry?

Check your egos at the door. Make your dealers your focus and love them through their challenges. This whole subject matter is about wheels turning, both figuratively and literally. There are more times than not, people are overwhelmed by fear. psb

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