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HOT NEWS – April 3, 2006

April 3, 2006
Filed under News

America’s Powersports changes leaders
Brentwood, Tenn.-based America’s Powersports (APS), the second largest dealer group in North America, has announced changes at its top. Clark Vitulli, the company’s president and CEO since its beginning seven years ago, has left APS.
A company press release said Vitulli departed to pursue other interests. It wasn’t clear if Vitulli’s departure was sudden or expected, and he could not be reached for comment.
Two people associated with APS will fill different elements of Vitulli’s former post.
Dennis Bookshester, a founding APS director, was named as APS’ chairman and CEO.
Taking over the role of president will be Jerry Gilding, a member of the APS management team for six years. He came onboard when the company acquired San Diego House of Motorcycles. Gilding was a member of the ownership group in San Diego at the time of the acquisition.
Gilding, in an interview with Powersports Business, said Bookshester will be involved in the day-to-day operations at the corporate level, and he will mostly be in the field with the dealers.
Gilding, who will remain in San Diego, said APS will “continue on (with the) same vision” as Vitulli had and the “acquisition path is still the same. None of that is going to change.
“I think this is a great transition,” Gilding said. “I think our day-to-day operations will become even stronger than they were.”
Gilding lauded Vitulli for providing APS a strong foundation. “We’re going to take it and run with it,” he said.
Gilding would not say whether he was surprised by Vitulli’s departure. He did say he’s looking forward to going from overseeing three Southern California dealerships to all 17 APS properties.
“Jerry and I will work with the existing management team to ensure a smooth transition and solidify future growth developments,” Bookshester said in a press release. He was most recently CEO of Turtle Wax and Fruit of the Loom.
Vitulli’s contributions to APS were lauded by Nathan Brown, managing director of Wind Point Partners, which owns APS. “Clark made significant contributions to APS by guiding and directing the company during the challenging stages of its formation and early development,” Brown said in the press release.
APS posted record sales and earnings for the year ended Dec. 31, according to the company press release. Sales topped $200 million, according to the press release. Net earnings were not disclosed. Last year marked the sixth consecutive profitable year for APS, which has 17 dealerships operating in eight states.
Harley-Davidson announces new CFO
Harley-Davidson, Inc., Milwaukee, Wis., has selected Thomas E. Bergmann as new vice president and chief financial officer.
Harley-Davidson Vice President and Treasurer James Brostowitz has been serving as acting chief financial officer since April 2005, when James L. Ziemer was promoted to president and chief executive officer after the retirement of Jeffrey L. Bleustein.
Bergmann was most recently chief executive officer of USF Corporation, Chicago, Ill., a publicly traded $2.5 billion transportation and logistics company that was acquired by YRC Worldwide Inc. — formerly known as Yellow Roadway Corp. — in May 2005. Bergmann joined USF in 2004 as senior vice president and chief financial officer.
Bergmann has held a range of executive roles in his career, including corporate controller and vice president finance-financial services for Sears, Roebuck and Co.; vice president and treasurer, The St. Paul Companies, Inc; director, treasury services and international treasury services for Johnson & Johnson; as well as a series of financial management roles with Honeywell International.
“We are pleased that our search to fill this crucial role has brought Tom and Harley-Davidson together,” Ziemer said. “He has a solid track record and a skill set that will be an excellent complement to the leadership capabilities we already have in the organization.”
AMA Names Committee Members in Restructure
The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) has announced the members of two standing committees of the AMA Board of Directors, part of a previously announced restructuring the organization says is designed to increase its effectiveness in its core mission of promoting rights, riding and racing.
The Racing Committee includes Carl Reynolds, chairman, Don Emde, Art More, Jeff Nash and John Ulrich.
The Rights Committee includes Stan Simpson, chairman, Jon-Erik Burleson, Russ Ehnes, Andy Goldfine, Rick Gray and Charles Umbenhauer.
Each committee will manage strategic planning and direction within its area of the AMA’s mission, with the goal of responding to the interests of the AMA’s 270,000 members.
“This is an exciting step in creating a more effective and responsive association,” said Patricia DiPietro, AMA chief executive officer.
The AMA Board of Directors consists of 12 members. Six individual directors are elected by the general membership in their respective regions and serve three-year terms. Six corporate directors are elected by the corporate membership and serve two-year terms. The board of directors meets four times a year.
Attendance Drops Slightly at 2006 Dealer Expo
Attendance at the 2006 Dealer Expo in Indianapolis was down slightly from attendance at the 2005 event, said Advanstar Communications, owner of the annual powersports trade fair.
The audited attendance figure for this year’s four-day show was 21,019 visitors, which is less than 1 percent off the 2005 figure of 21,178 visitors.
Attendance at the trade-only event has increased an average of 6 percent per year for the past five years.
AMA Backs Kempthorne for Interior Secretary
The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) has announced its support of Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, President Bush’s pick to be the new Secretary of the Interior.
The Department of Interior is responsible for managing national parks and public lands, conserving natural resources and pursuing environmentally responsible recreation and development on federal lands and waters. If confirmed by the Senate, Kempthorne would succeed current Interior Secretary Gale Norton.
Kempthorne, currently serving his second term as Idaho’s governor, is an avid street motorcyclist and off-highway enthusiast. In 2003, the AMA honored him with the AMA Hazel Kolb Brighter Image Award, recognizing his efforts to fund and protect access to public riding areas for off-highway riding, as well as the positive image he projects as a street rider.
Polaris Promotes Two
Officials at Polaris Industries Inc. announced changes to the company’s ATV group.
Matt Homan has been promoted to general manager, utility division, replacing Tim DeJong, who retired March 1. Jeff LeFever will assume Homan’s previous role by expanding his responsibilities as the marketing manager of the ATV marketing organization.
Homan joined Polaris in 2002 as the marketing manager for the ATV division. He was promoted to the director of marketing in ATV in October 2004. He worked at General Mills for seven years in various marketing and marketing management positions prior to joining Polaris.
LeFever joined Polaris in 2004 as the marketing manager for ATV, reporting to Homan.
KYMCO Teams with Consumer Research Solutions
KYMCO USA teamed with Consumer Research Solutions, Inc. (CRS) to provide an online site that compares KYMCO models, side-by-side and feature-by-feature, against competitive models in the marketplace.
CRS, Westminster, Mass., provides competitive analysis tools for manufacturers, industry professionals, dealers and consumers through data and software designed to cover motorcycles, scooters, utility vehicles, ATVs, personal watercraft and snowmobiles.
The comparison solution, now available on www.KYMCOUSA.com, is powered by CRS’ objective third party data. Users can choose to compare the KYMCO model of their choice with any two competitors and will be presented with a comprehensive side-by-side report detailing specifications, features, prices and warranty information. Additionally, KYMCO model advantages are highlighted in the comparison report, allowing users to quickly identify the highlights the KYMCO model has over the chosen competitor models.
Italy Plans international Trade Show in 2006
The 64th International Motorcycle Exhibition (EICMA) takes place in Milan, Italy, on Nov. 14-19.
EICMA’s exhibition area in 2005 grew 29.3 percent to 63,785 sq. meters, and approximately 1,560 companies exhibited at the event, a 33 percent increase from the previous show.
The 500,000 visitors through the gates included 53,776 trade visitors, of which 15,876 were from outside of Italy.
“Last year was a crucial year for EICMA,” organizers said in a press release. “We moved to the new Fiera Milano Exhibition Centre, we separated the Bicycle Show from the Motorbike Show, and we moved the Motorbike Show from September to November.”
Dodgers star Kent buys two dealerships in Texas
Major League Baseball player Jeff Kent and a partner have purchased two Texas single-line dealerships, one of which will be housed in a much-bigger facility in 2007.
Kent Powersports has begun construction on a 41,000-square foot facility just outside of San Antonio, Texas. That will be the future home of Yamaha San Antonio, the largest volume Yamaha seller in the state.
Kent and general manager Matt Goulais also purchased 35 North Honda, the only Honda Powerhouse dealership in south Texas. Kent and Goulais, both entering the powersports industry for the first time, received $6.3 million in financing to acquire the two locations, according to a GE Commercial Finance news release.
Goulais said there’s no current plans to enlarge Kent Powersports.
“We’d like to keep the options open to grow the group,” he told Powersports Business. “If something presents itself, we’ll entertain it.”
For Kent, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ second baseman, forming a powersports dealership group represented a chance to get back into something he loved as a child.
“Jeff’s been interested in motorsports his entire life,” Goulais said of the five-time All-Star.
The Kent Powersports facility currently under construction will house the full Yamaha lineup, including boats. No changes will be made to the 35 North Honda store. psb

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