ARI, 50 Below to merge strengths with new dealer website platform

Publish Date: 
Feb 14, 2013
By Arlo Redwine

DEALER EXPO, Indianapolis, Ind. -- Dealer Expo provides the venue for the “coming out” of ARI’s plans for the 50 Below business it acquired late last year.

Dealernews recently spoke with Jon Lintvet, ARI’s chief marketing officer and VP of product, to learn what dealers can expect after the acquisition. 50 Below dealers are already benefiting from upgrades, he said. And within the next six months, ARI (Booths 5841 and 5844) will introduce a dealer website platform combining the best attributes of the 50 Below and ARI platforms.

Lintvet also addressed 50 Below’s partnership with ADP Lightspeed, and how another acquisition last year gave birth to an ARI service — launching here at the show — that gives dealers online access to PG&A pricing and availability data, searchable by fitment and product attributes.    

50 Below filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Aug. 29, 2012, citing liabilities of about $12 million, mostly tax-related. The Duluth, Minn.-based firm issued a press release saying it expected to exit bankruptcy after setting up a payment plan. To support its claim, it disclosed its financial forecast for 2012: a profit of more than $2 million on revenue of more than $20 million following rapid growth.

The court-appointed trustee had a different idea: She began accepting bids for 50 Below’s assets, which buyers would receive free of all debt obligations. In November, the case judge approved the sale of 50 Below’s assets to two companies. Milwaukee-based ARI bought the retail division for $5 million, while a San Diego firm bought the financial services division for $3.5 million.  

ARI ended up almost doubling its companywide staff by hiring 133 of 50 Below’s nearly 160 retail division employees. ARI also moved all its own powersports accounts to Duluth. Early this year the firm was looking to hire three software developers.

Lintvet has visited the Duluth offices and describes the 50 Below employees as “hard-core enthusiasts who know their dealers on a first-name basis, who are wearing Yamaha and Kawasaki and Suzuki swag. It’s just an awesome atmosphere. They do a lot of things really well. And because there are a lot of things we do really well, we’re excited about bringing the best of both of those organizations together.” (continued)