Q&A: Garrett Laves, Hammerhead Off-Road Inc.
Garrett Laves – National sales manager, Hammerhead Off-Road Inc.
Hammerhead Off-Road continues to be an intriguing brand option for dealers looking to offer alternatives in both the UTV and go-kart segments. The company’s lineup of UTVs and go-karts manufactured in China offers GE Capital wholesale financing, as well as parts support from its Dallas-based offices. National sales manager Garrett Laves has been with the company for nearly a decade, and provided Powersports Business editor in chief Dave McMahon with an update on the kart business.
How would you describe 2012 for Hammerhead?
“It was our best year since the recession. Since our main focus is go-karts, I think half of that has to do with all the restrictions on ATVs as far as the youth class. The second thing is that it’s the most affordable off-road fun there is. Our kids kart models now come with a three-year parts and labor warranty, and that helped tremendously, as well as the fact that they’re assembled in the U.S.”
What spurred some of the kart growth?
“We’re the only off-road go-kart company that does not sell online, and I think that’s a huge part of it. Dealers like that our parts are available. We’re not perfect, but we have the capability of getting something. If we made it, we can get it. But our growth truly is based on the fact that we’re reliable, dependable. It’s cost effective. It’s a good product for the showroom. And it’s safer. There’s a lot less liability involved when you sell a go-kart vs. an ATV.”
What type of wholesale financing do you offer to powersports dealers?
“We’ve had GE financing since 2004, and that’s been a huge component of our success. It’s been crucial. It’s enabled us to get a lot of business, especially in the powersports market.”
What are some of your traditional powersports dealers telling you about what they like about carrying Hammerhead’s machines?
“The number one thing is that there’s a great profit margin. That’s the number one thing that everybody cares about — the money. Also the fact that we’re not undercutting them online. You’re not showrooming our product. The only people you’re competing against is the next-closest dealer that sells our products. And we have excellent freight deals. We split the freight at $8,000 [dealer orders] and do free freight on $16,000 orders. I’d say about 20 percent of our powersports dealers do the free freight.”
How do you go about presenting the Hammerhead light UTVs to dealers?
“It’s a newer market segment, but as far as direct competition with our engine displacement, there are relatively few competitors. There are some in chain stores, but with our design and quality, why wouldn’t you want to buy it from a dealer for $500 more and get the service, instead of from a chain store?”
What’s the main thing you’ve learned in your almost 10 years with Hammerhead?
“First and foremost, I never upsell what I’m selling. I’m not going to compare us to the Big Four. I just ask them to do their research. It comes down to brand loyalty. Even in the hardest of times, not once did we do factory sales online. We’ve always stayed true to the dealer. It’s hurt us at times; I’m not going to say it hasn’t. Dealers started falling left and right. We were here trying our best to survive with them. I feel really good about our prospects. We’ve been through thick and thin. We have great management and execution. The factory supports us. You have to have the factory support, or you’re done. You can import and slap a name on it, but at the end of the day it’s not a long-term growth solution.”