461 U.S. Route 2E
Wilton, ME 04294
Bob and Lida Trask
Trask’s was founded in 1965 as a MotoSki dealership. “In 1979 we also took on Ski-Doo,” says Bob Trask. “When Bombardier phased out MotoSki in the 1980s, we stayed with just Ski-Doo and Yamaha outboards until 1996, when we decided to pick up Yamaha ATVs, snowmobiles, and generators.” Largest-selling segment is “getting close to 50% ATV, 50% snowmobile, but it’s still the latter.” Five employees.
“ATV clubs have to organize better and improve relationships between landowners and riders,” says Trask. “We were in the same place with snowmobiles in the early 1970s. We have a public relations problem in trying to rationalize use of the land to the owner. An ATV in itself creates erosion. The clubs must band together and say, ‘We know this erosion happens, and we’ll come back to fix it.’ We also have to educate ATV owners to stay out of the mud and little swamps, and to be more environmentally friendly.” Does the Tread Lightly program help? “Yes, that helps nationally, but it has to come down to the grassroots level. People must get involved and educate those who seem to ruin it for everybody else.”
“If you can tell me how the Summer’s going to be-nice, warm, not too much rain-then I can tell you that ATVs will sell very well, because sales are weather-driven, just like with snowmobiles,” notes Trask. “If it’s wet and cold, ATVs don’t sell so well. We sell more Yamaha ATVs than Bombardier because Yamaha is more well-known.” Best-selling snowmobiles this past season were the Ski-Doo GSX and MXZ 600cc models and the Yamaha Vector.
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
“Customers are getting older all the time,” says Trask. “They used to be in the 25-year-old range, now they’re 30 to 35.” Wilton is a rural area, but customers are predominantly using their ATVs for recreation. “They also lumber with them, using them as small skidders to get firewood.” Trask has spotted a trend toward larger-displacement ATVs. “The 300cc used to be the most popular, but now it’s the 450cc to 660cc models.”
“We have a very large landowner-the former owner of Burt’s Bees cosmetics-who’s shutting off her property to snowmobiling in the northern part of the state,” says Trask. “She’s a multi-millionaire who bought a very large chunk of land. She doesn’t even live in Maine now; she resides in Florida.”
PARTS AND SERVICE
Trask’s generally has two service technicians in Summer and four in Winter, because the dealership focuses on snowmobile service. “When a local Polaris dealership folded, I picked up their primary mechanic, and the other is primarily Yamaha-trained. All are cross-trained in the Bombardier line. We explain to customers of brands other than those we sell that if there is a local dealer in that marque that we think is proficient, they might want to go there. That’s mainly because we have to get the parts elsewhere ourselves, so it delays turnaround time. If they still want us to service their vehicle, that’s fine, but they have that option.” Trask adds that “trying to manage parts is an ongoing challenge for all dealerships. We have to deal with obsolescence, overstock, or incorrect ordering and try to get them under control. Every year at this time the parts manager and I weed out obsolete parts, and this year we’re redoing our filing system to get a better handle on it.”
WORDS OF ADVICE
“Profit is not a dirty word,” says Trask. “I’ve been in business a long time and have seen dealerships come and go. Normally it’s a pricing problem; the dealer just doesn’t make any money because he doesn’t know how. If you he doesn’t price the product to make money, he won’t be in business very long.”
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