Leisure Equipment, Inc. – Parker Ford, PA – Aug. 18, 2003
August 18, 2003
Filed under Power Profiles
2568 Route 724
Parker Ford, PA 19457
Paul Lederer and Herb Landis
15,000-sq.-ft. dealership on one-and-a-half acres of land, founded in 1967. Lederer and Landis built a new facility diagonally across the street in 1971. In the country between Philadelphia (30 miles east) and Reading. Carries Bombardier, Kawasaki, and Polaris ATVs (including Kawi Mules); Kawasaki and Polaris motorcycles; Arctic Cat, Polaris, and Ski-Doo snowmobiles; and Kawasaki and Polaris watercraft. “ATVs sell 12 months out of the year, so that’s the biggest volume,” says Lederer. “The other vehicles are more seasonal.” 12 employees.
Lederer’s greatest concern is legislation that would affect places where riders can use their vehicles off-road, and thus affect sales. “On the street, motorcyclists know that as long as they stay within the laws of the Department of Transportation, they’re always going to be able to use the product. But it seems like with the off-road areas and waterways, it’s an ongoing battle. There will always be the ‘bad’ 5% of people who spoil it for the ‘good’ 95%.”
“If one model is hot, it’s hot for a couple of days or a week, then it’s something else,” says Lederer. “It’s just so diverse that it’s hard to really say what’s a standout. The whole product line sells.” When we spoke in mid-summer, Leisure Equipment was selling a lot of motorcycle, watercraft, and ATV accessories. “Nobody buys any snowmobile clothes, parts, or accessories now.”
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
“We have a different clientele between summer and winter,” notes Lederer. “We get some customers who are into everything, but generally we either have a motorcyclist who’s also into watersports, or that snowmobile person. We see more financing in summer, because the snowmobile riders are more affluent.
“This year the biggest trend I see is that — due to the economy — the recreational industry has finance deals like the auto industry has always had. The zero-zero-zero, 2.9%, 3.9% type of financing is unheard of in our industry. That’s been a major factory in keeping the ball rolling and helping to move product, especially in summer. We’ve always seen 14.9% or 18% interest, and to offer a low price and low interest? That’s great.”
“The watercraft industry has the roughest time with legislation all over,” says Lederer. “Here in Pennsylvania, the mandatory PWC-training law has been good in a way — but before this legislation, someone could come in and buy a PWC it and use it immediately. Now they must have training first. A husband can buy a PWC, but his wife, children, or friends can’t ride it without training. We’re all for safety, but to have to do all that just to use the product, well, it devastated that industry. Now it’s becoming more accepted, though, and the training programs are more available.
“At first they were eight-hour, in-classroom schools. Now PWC riders can go on the Internet, get a book from the Pennsylvania Fish and Game Commission, study the book, then go back on the Internet and take the watercraft-certification test.”
Lederer notes that while Kawasaki, Yamaha, and other OEMs support the ATV Safety Institute — “We register them, they take the course, and they get a savings certificate to encourage them” — Polaris requires a dealership to have qualified trainers on-site and hold a training course there.
PARTS AND SERVICE
Leisure Equipment has two full-time employees in parts and three full-time in service. “Our mechanics are constantly updated with the service schools,” says Lederer. “We’ve been fortunate — we’ve had the same workforce for years.
We’ve been stable with the diversification of summer/winter products, so we don’t have layoffs and are able to provide employment 12 months out of the year. That’s not always true in a straight motorcycle shop. They don’t have the consistency of employment.”
WORDS OF ADVICE
“Take care of the customers that you have and be honest and loyal to them,” advises Lederer,” and I still feel that in today’s world, they’ll be honest and loyal back to you.”