Team Winnebagoland takes a collective approach

Publish Date: 
Jan 13, 2014
By Joe Delmont

THIRD GENERATION

The 30-person Team Winnebagoland operation is run by three siblings: GM Tom, 35, Sales Manager Nick, 32, and Rachel Van Mun, 30, who is the store’s controller. Over the past three years the trio has been gradually purchasing the dealership from their father, Lee, who still is active in the business. Grandpa Cyril Van Zeeland founded the dealership as a snowmobile operation in the 1970s.

The 40,000 sq. ft facility features Polaris (45 percent), Kawasaki (20 percent) and Yamaha (35 percent), and is located on the shores of Lake Winnebago in central Wisconsin, about 90 miles northwest of Milwaukee.

In 2012, the dealership generated about $11 million in sales, with about 43 percent of that coming from new units and 22 percent from used. The dealership bills itself as a motorcycle dealer, and that’s correct if you look at its unit sales:

  • Motorcycles, 35 percent
  • ATVs, 14 percent
  • UTVs, 18 percent
  • Jet boats, 10 percent
  • Snowmobiles, 8 percent, and
  • PWCs, 4 percent.

A small, one-person online department generates 5 percent of total revenues.

There is a sibling store 46 miles away in De Pere, operated by Lee and brother Mark. (All of the numbers provided in this story, however, are for the Oshkosh store.)

FOUR SUCCESS FACTORS

The Van Zeelands are candid about their success. While much of the credit, they say, goes to previous generations, they cite four factors:

  1. Buying power. “We’ve got the cash,” says Nick.
  2. Strong service operation, where bikes are serviced the right way and returns are kept to a minimum. “It’s not uncommon to see a $500 shop bill,” says Nick.
  3. Merchandise is displayed well, and the dealership has strong detailers to present vehicles in the best possible light.
  4. Community loyalty. “We take care of everybody and everything after the sale,” says Tom. “We just say, ‘Yes,’ if there’s a problem, even if they bought it somewhere else. We know their friends ride, too.”

The bottom line, they say, is that “we don’t think anyone else can do what we do. If you do things right, you can ask the price you want. That’s not something you can shop,” the brothers state.

Through the first 10 months of October, the dealership sold 290 used units: 175 motorcycles, 41 snowmobiles, 23 ATVs, 11 watercraft, seven SxSs and 12 scooters.

Used motorcycles generated $1.185 million in revenue through October and a gross profit of $245,000, a 20.68 percent margin. For calendar-year 2012, used sales reached $1.437 million with a gross profit of $301,000. In 2011, used sales were $1.24 million, and gross profit was $296,000.