Team Polaris – Fairborn, OH – Feb. 10, 2003
February 10, 2003
Filed under Power Profiles
109 North Broad Street
Fairborn, OH 45324
11,000-sq.-ft. dealership founded in 1991 in a Dayton suburb. “We’re considering moving to a much bigger facility so we can expand into storing snowmobiles in summer and watercraft in winter,” says Clary. “We may purchase a closed lumber company that later rented equipment, so it already has a parts counter built in.”
Carries full lines of Polaris and Bombardier. Largest-selling segment is “definitely ATVs — 20 to 1, at least.” In addition to Clary, his wife, and his son, there are three employees.
“I hate to say it, but dealers have torn up the market badly,” says Clary. They’ve discounted everything. When we first got into this business, I was the first to have Polaris. It was an easy market, and I did it part-time; there was no big stress or strain,” says the former snowmobile drag racer.
“Now there are 13 dealers around me. A guy called about a warranty issue on an ATV the other day. He bought the unit in Kentucky and saved himself $100, although it probably cost him $100 to retrieve it.
“I don’t blame him for trying to save a dollar, but he was upset because I wouldn’t get him in that day. We have a schedule to go by, and if a guy who bought his ATV here had an issue, I’d try to squeeze it in. But why should I put myself out if he didn’t have the courtesy to spend his money here?”
Taking the checkered flag at Team Polaris: the new Polaris and Sea-Doo four-stroke PWC; the new Polaris Predator and 700cc utility ATVs; “and while the performance sleds have always been big, this has been a slow year for snowmobiles,” says Clary, “probably the worst I’ve ever seen.”
Team Polaris sells a lot of ATV accessories — bumpers, winches, and grills — and riders use their quads for hunting and working, “although with the Predator, we’ll have more sport riders. I just unloaded four of our big 6x6 Rangers that we sold to the Kentucky Air National Guard. We sold them sleds last year. If you walk out back, you can see the old Air Force One and the Air Base.”
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
The typical Team Polaris customer is in his mid-30s, married, and likes to be active in the outdoors. Second would be the pleasure-seekers who want big-boy toys and to have a good time.”
“We’ve been pretty fortunate,” says Clary. “We don’ t have many issues. It’s unusual that we sell as many ATVs as we do, because our people have to drive quite a way to ride here — south to hunt or into the hills to ride. PWC riders take their craft to Helms or Cumberland lakes, and we do still sell quite a few.”
vPARTS AND SERVICE
The service department includes three Technicians, one setup person, “and I do a lot of the engine-building myself,” says Clary. “My wife and son run the parts department. I do a lot of sales, too, because everybody knows me — a lot of customers we’ve had over the years keep coming back, which is what you want.
“But my son came here three months ago to help ease some of the pressure on me from trying to wear too many hats.”
WORDS OF ADVICE
“We had a hot, humid summer, so nobody wanted to ride ATVs,” says Clary. “But watercraft sales took up some of the slack. Meanwhile, a Ski-Doo sled dealer and a Bombardier ATV/Sea-Doo watercraft dealer shut down, so I have a corner on that market right now. I’m not a one-dimensional dealer, and in some respects that helps me; but it also hurts me, because I have more overhead. But hang in there,” advises Clary. “Right now it’s a little tough on everybody.”