PowerMadd ready for off-road season
As snow continued to coat the ground outside Paul LeMere’s Wyoming, Minn., office, he grumbled about the weather. That seems odd for someone like LeMere, whose business relies heavily on the snow and people using their snowmobiles on it. But, as he pointed out, the constantly melting and refreezing mid-April flurries are no good for riding.
PowerMadd is anxious to get into the off-road season, in which the other segments it serves — ATV and off-road bikes — flourish.
The company is entering its eighth year under the ownership of LeMere and Randy Shimanski. Both were employees of PowerMadd, which at the time sold trailers and powersports accessories, but they wanted to break the 11-year-old company into two divisions with LeMere and Shimanski keeping the accessories division and PowerMadd founder Ernie DeLanghe holding onto the trailer portion, renaming it Caliber Trailer Accessories.
“We saw some opportunity with the risers and the handguards and with all the products,” LeMere recalled.
Within the next few years, PowerMadd moved north from Burnsville, Minn., to Wyoming, Minn., so the company could be closer to LeMere and Shimanski’s cabins, which are used as testing facilities. PowerMadd also purchased the Cobra windshield line from fellow Minnesota company Sportech. And about two years ago, PowerMadd made a small move from its first Wyoming facility down the road to a building designed to its specs within the Hallberg Marine campus.
Since the company’s restart under LeMere and Shimanski, one of PowerMadd’s primary goals has been to continue to bring new product to market. And it has done so, each year bringing a few more items to the table. Having its company of seven employees full of enthusiasts helps.
“We all ride, and we sit around the table, and we see what we can make better,” LeMere said.
During PowerMadd’s brainstorming sessions, the company decides which products to prototype. Designs are drawn for each, a prototype is ordered, and the crew hits the trails to test each product.
“The best thing is to put it on a machine and see if it’s going to work,” LeMere explained.
Many prototypes don’t work well in real-life applications, so they never make it to full production. Others that don’t appear to be the best idea later succeed on the trail and become PowerMadd products.
Once a product is determined to be worth bringing to market, PowerMadd sends out a request for quotes. The company works with a variety of manufacturers to ensure it’s receiving the highest quality products at the best price.
Once a product returns to PowerMadd, the company assures that the quality is up to its standards. A sample of each new shipment of risers, for example, is sent to an independent lab to assure the correct metals are being used. After the quality assurance tests, the products are ready to go out to the company’s distributors, which span across the industry. They include Automatic Distributors, Bell Industries, Hi Performance Engineering, Kimpex, Marshall Distributing, Parts Unlimited, Parts Canada, Tucker Rocky, Western Power Sports, Gamma, Motovan and Sled Pro Distributing.
The most recent product to undergo this development process is PowerMadd’s SG1 handguard. Arriving at dealerships now, the large, waterproof, soft-molded handguard is available for ATVs and snowmobiles.
“It’s quickly removable. You can attach it, put it on, take it off really quickly,” LeMere said.
The product is ideal for riders who like the usefulness of handguards but prefer not to have them permanently installed. The Velcro mount can stay on the unit without the handguard or can be removed just as easily.
Other recent products that have caught the interest of consumers include the Cobra ProTEK windshield for ATVs and the PowerX handguards for off-road bikes.
Diversifying more into the off-road markets has been important to PowerMadd, especially as snowmobiling is a more seasonal segment than others. Last winter’s lack of snow, for example, hit the company this past season because distributors still had plenty of product leftover, with little need to order more.
“It’s been a struggle, I think, for everyone who has been in snow,” LeMere said.
But he’s hopeful that 2013 will turn around.
Quality a draw
What draws dealers and customers to PowerMadd, LeMere says, is the company’s quality and confidence to stand behind its products. Each comes with a one-year warranty.
“If a dealer ever has a problem with the product, they’ll call us, and we’ll take care of them,” LeMere said.
And if a customer’s product breaks, PowerMadd will make sure to fix or replace it, though that’s hardly an issue as fewer than 1 percent of its products are sent back.
The constant innovation and “cool factor” that PowerMadd integrates into each design are also draws, LeMere says. The company has continued to innovate. Right now it’s working on a new rendition of its well-known Star Series of handguards, as well other new accessories.
Continuing to add to its lines is key to keeping PowerMadd a successful company in the industry.
“New product is huge; it’s our lifeblood,” LeMere said. “With the industry being so flat, we have to come out with something to spark excitement.”