June 4, 2007 – Hot News
June 4, 2007
Filed under News
LeMans Corp. CEO Jeff Fox Retires
The LeMans Corp. is deciding how to proceed with its top day-to-day management post after the retirement of President and CEO Jeff Fox.
Fox told a gathering of LeMans department heads at an offsite meeting in early May of his plans to retire. He later announced the move in a letter to the industry, saying, “it was an extremely difficult decision to make, but one that I feel very comfortable with.”
Fox will remain a major shareholder of the company, which owns Parts Unlimited and Drag Specialties. He also will remain a part of the board of directors, which includes Fred Fox, his father and company founder, and fewer than a dozen current LeMans employees.
Whether LeMans will fill the CEO role or potentially split the position into two roles is a decision that has not been determined, said Greg Blackwell, vice president of sales for LeMans Corp.
Regardless of what happens with the CEO position, Blackwell says the decision will not affect how LeMans does business. “This company has been run by a board and will continue to be run by a board,” he said.
Jeff Fox will continue to have an active role on that board and in the family owned business. Blackwell noted, almost a week after the announcement, that Jeff Fox was planning on flying to Europe to meet with vendors.
Fox’s decision to retire was not surprising to those who knew him, Blackwell says, noting that Fox in his retirement announcement said, “I told Blackwell for years I was going to be out of the day-to-day operations by the time I was 40. I was going to be out of the day-to-day operations by the time I was 45. I’m now 50.”
“So now he’s finally making his move,” Blackwell said. “I think it took Jeff and Fred that long to get the company where they wanted to make that move. That’s the biggest key. They wanted it perfect.”
The decision was not health-related, something Fox made clear in his announcement.
“The first thing that Jeff did when he started his meeting is he stopped and said, ‘No. 1, let me make it clear there are no health issues here,’” Blackwell said. “He said I’m doing this because I want to do this.”
During Fox’s tenure as CEO and president, LeMans Corp. grew from a company with annual sales of $15 million to $800 million, according to a Powersports Business article published last year. During that same span, the company’s sales force had increased from fewer than 10 to more than 200.
Blackwell noted that Fox said, “He can’t keep up with it anymore. This company has just gotten so big.
“This company has grown immensely, in facilities, personnel, business, vendors. You go down the list–every single thing we are doing and have done has grown huge.”
While the LeMans board considers what to do with the CEO role, it’s business as usual, Blackwell said.
“The directive has been we’re going to keep doing what we do,” he said.
“I always say one thing about Jeff is that he has never made a knee-jerk decision in his life, and Fred has never made a knee-jerk decision in his life. Everything we’ve done has been calculated and well thought out.”
Motorcycle Consultant Wyckoff Passes Away
John Wyckoff, the founder of Intersport Fashions West and a longtime industry consultant, passed away May 12.
Wyckoff began his career in the powersports industry as a mechanic, parts manager and storeowner. He later became director of marketing for Drag Specialties before becoming the founder and chairman of the board of Intersport Fashions West.
Wyckoff later worked as a consultant, working for Harley-Davidson, ADP and others. Some of his other clients included Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki and BMW. He also wrote a column for several industry publications.
“I used John and his expertise and his knowledge of the industry when I had the Harley-Davidson University operation reporting to me throughout the ’90s,” said Ron Hutchinson, the vice president of new business for Harley-Davidson, noting that he “found John to be just a wonderful voice for the industry and a great representative of the dealer network on a number of issues. We could always count on John for a free and independent and often spirited response to any issue.”
ADP?Lightspeed General Manager Laurn Rice said, “Whether the goal was understanding the market, improving our internal systems or entertaining a roomful of customers, he excelled, and relished it all. Talking with John was always an adventure. The subjects could range from motorcycles to chronographs, from pygmy tribes in the Amazon to Bach on the guitar, from business best practices to behavioral psychology of the consumer—he had done it all, and was never shy in front of any crowd.”
In 1990, Wyckoff was awarded the “Key Award” by the Motorcycle Industry Council and in 2005, was the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award at the V-Twin Expo.
Snowmobile Industry Fixture Ramstad Dies in Car Collision
C.J. Ramstad, a fixture in the snowmobile industry and founder of Snow Week, an Ehlert Publishing magazine, died on May 6 in a car collision. He was 61.
Also killed in the crash was Ramstad’s son, J.J., 17.
Ramstad, a longtime Minnesota snowmobile journalist, began Snow Week in 1974 as Snowmobile Week. The name was shortened to Snow Week in 1978. Ramstad was the editor of Snow Week and Snow Goer, and then of Snowmobile Magazine.
In 1988, he took over the Minnesota state snowmobile publication, Minnesota Snowmobiling, and became a co-publisher of Super Trax in 1991. He was a member of the board of the Snowmobile Hall of Fame and Museum and an inductee into the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame.
Ramstad is survived by his wife, Karla, and daughter, Marly. psb