Job openings, continuing education — and the future of the powersports industry

Publish Date: 
Oct 26, 2012
By Mary Slepicka

I RECENTLY HAD A conversation with Jan Plessner. You may know her from Kawasaki, where she spent many years heading up the OEM’s marketing efforts. Plessner (shown at right) is now an independent businesswoman, at the editorial helm at LadyMoto.com and, just recently, signing on as the western U.S. contact for industry recruiting firm Lonski and Associates. She is Lonski’s first recruiter west of the Continental Divide, and the company’s first female representative.

Plessner seems to know just about everyone in the business. So my first question was, “Where did all of the good people go?”

Take a look at Lonski’s website or at MotorcycleIndustryJobs.com and you’ll find plenty of job openings. The economy is slowly coming back to life, and companies are hiring. Considering the industry has downsized considerably since the recession began, there should be all sorts of rock-star technicians, sales professionals, numbers-crunchers, marketing gurus and executive managers out there hungry to get back to a business that’s supposed to be fun, supposed to reflect their lifestyle.

But maybe not. For employers trying to find good candidates, and for candidates trying to find decent positions, today’s job environment is a bit more complicated. In a down economy, employers struggle to make compensation packages appealing so they can attract the right candidates. Unfortunately, pay scales haven’t yet rebounded. And if former powersports industry employees have found stable work in other industries, they might be staying put for a while.

Plessner surmises that fewer people these days will make the jump to a position that may be enticing but without the wages to back it up. And that’s likely for practical reasons. “Many are upside down in their house and finally coming out of it, and they’re not comfortable with financial risk,” she said. “Relocation bonuses are not being offered as much,” so candidates are unwilling to move or they find it financially impossible to do so, she noted.

In the short term, Plessner said she’s working on finding candidates that are 1) maxed out in their position, 2) ready for a change, 3) are prepared to make a lateral move rather than a promotion, at least for now, and 4) realize that it will take a while for them to move up at their new company.

For Plessner, it’s more than a job — it’s her quest. “I simply love this industry,” she said. “I don’t feel we are near the potential of where we could be.”

An industry potential rests on the shoulders of its participants. A better informed workforce yields a more dynamic, forward-thinking industry. 

The upcoming Dealer Expo, Feb. 15-17 in Indianapolis, gives you that rare two-birds-with-one-stone opportunity: a weekend to network with contacts, and then boost your I.Q. by attending as many business, industry and retail seminars as you want. It’s a symposium worth thousands of dollars elsewhere, FREE to you with your attendee registration (for more information, visit www.dealerexpo.com). (continued)