Next up: trying to convince distributors and dealers that the Motion Pro product was as good or better than Japanese replacement cables, and provided a much easier way to determine the correct application -- no more losing the packaging and being unable to identify the product. Carter said his reputation and experience at Rocky Distributing enabled him to secure Hap Jones as his first distributor and then, about a year later, his old employer, Rocky. Within a year, his product was successfully launched.
In 1990 Carter branched out. A friend, Mike Akatiff, owned a small motorcycle specialty tool business, Pacific Coast Cycle. He had shifted his focus from motorcycles to private aviation, and sold his motorcycle business to Motion Pro. At the time Pacific Coast had a catalog of about 26 items, mostly basic tools, chain breakers, steel tire irons, spoke wrenches and so on, many of which are still sold by Motion Pro.
From the get-go, distribution was through distributors and then to dealers. “I initially, tried to assign distributors regional territories, but as many regional distributors were bought up or left the business, we had to give up on that program," Carter said. "Now just about every major distributor carries our product line -- Tucker Rocky, Parts Unlimited and Western Power Sports, along with several others.”
Motion Pro’s website (see image) offers a multitude of services, a catalog, DIY videos, and the option of ordering whatever you need directly from the site. “The order goes through Shopatron – dealers can sign up for free," Carter explained. "We wanted an Internet presence but didn’t want to sell directly against dealers or distributors.
"The consumer thinks he’s buying from Motion Pro directly, but he isn’t," Carter added. "When the order’s placed it goes into hopper, and a dealer who has the item in inventory has so many hours to grab that order and fill it. Shopatron takes care of the billing and collects the money, the sales are at full retail, and the dealer gets a check from Shopatron every 15 days. Shopatron takes 3 to 5 percent for this service. The dealer has [an] option to slip something into the package -- a coupon for a discount on their next purchase, or a flyer to introduce the shopper to the dealership. There's even a pickup-at-dealership option.
Dealers were slow to sign up at first. "But those that did have done very well with it," Carter said. "We might have a dealer in New England filling [an] order for a consumer in Texas.
Motion Pro has been using the Shopatron procedure for five years now. "We were one of the first companies to get hooked up with them," Carter said. "The product still has to be bought through a distributor, the dealers get full retail and we still have an Internet presence. If an order is not picked up within a few hours, we will fill it ourselves. That happens less than 20 percent of the time. There are 300 to 400 dealers on system that actively look into the hopper every day to see what orders are in there.”
Motion Pro also will sell product directly to a dealer if a distributor does not have the particular part in inventory or the order involves a custom cable, he said.
Most of the tools developed by Motion Pro originate from the staff’s own riding and maintenance experiences or consumer, dealer or distributor rep suggestions. “When we go to the Indy dealer show, the first thing out of dealer’s mouth is, ‘what do you have new?’ Over the past few years, distributors have been reluctant to take on new inventory, but we continue to update our applications, and introduce six to twenty new products a year. It’s expensive to tool up,and without a direct sales force difficult to determine inventory levels, but new products are the life’s blood of our company,” Carter said.
Cables remain the most successful product, accounting for 60 percent of sales, but the company has a target on its back. “We get knocked off more frequently now," Carter said. "As a result we have to spend more on patents and be more attentive to pricing.”
Carter’s pride in Motion Pro is reflected in the fact that over the years it has grown to have over 3,000 SKUs in inventory, supports a fill rate in the high 90s at first attempt, and will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2014.