Slovenia-based exhaust specialist Akrapovic says it has hired a U.S.-based representative to help it pursue its goal of better servicing distributors and dealers, spearhead an increasingly aggressive marketing strategy and ultimately create a stronger presence in the states.
Nicholas Iannitti, formerly of Lockhart Phillips USA, has been tapped to fill the role.
Iannitti says his immediate plan is to increase dealer and consumer education about Akrapovic product, set pricing guidelines to protect brick-and-mortar operations from Internet-only retailers, and create a system to better promote the company's newest offerings.
"My plan is to be able to be in touch with the market to respond in a matter of hours instead of a matter of days," Iannitti says. "We're going to be looking at how we address our marketing efforts here — where we're actually putting our money — and we're going to start to aggressively increase consumer and dealer education about the product.
"We understand that the product costs more than some of the competition, but my goal is to help people understand where the product's value comes from. Lets face it, there are a lot of new customers who come in and buy an entry-level sportbike like a GSX-R600, want a pipe, but have no information from which to base their decision on other than price. So, if that parts counter employee isn't educated enough about the product to promote the differences between systems, we'll all lose the sale."
As for pricing, "I want to make sure that there is a level playing field," Iannitti says. "I understand there are a lot of these Internet-only dealers out there who rely on distributors to do the warehousing and have no overhead, but their system of doing business is not fair to the brick-and-mortar dealer who has to stock product and pay X number of employees. So we want to address that and get it rectified."
"I'm more than willing to talk with dealers, and I'm even more than willing to talk to the retail customer," Iannitti says. "My biggest goal is to have people satisfied with the brand."
—Submitted by Guido Ebert