Indiana dealership combines business and sport in one location
- Key Points
- Yamaha's Motoplex is located in La Otto, Indiana
- One-stop shop for everything powersports
- Retails Yamaha, E-Ton and Cobra vehicles
- Indoor track is an AMA Dist. 15 sanctioned MX venue
- Outdoor track hosts monthly MX races
Off-road riding areas are hard to find, and that impacts sales of dirtbikes and ATVs in many regions of the country. In 2003 Stacie and Darrin "Ski" Perkowski had an idea: find a location where a dealership and a commercial track could be placed adjacent to one another — one operation benefiting from the proximity of the other.
The Perkowskis are now the "operating owners" of Yamaha's Motoplex in LaOtto, Ind., a complex that encompasses a dealership, a 125'x225' climate-controlled indoor dirt arena, and an outdoor motocross track. This rural retailer is now a destination point for off-roaders and their friends and families, helping the Perkowskis differentiate their business from other area dealers.
In 1997, Stacie and Ski opened Huntertown Cycle Accessories & More (HCA), a 3,500 sq. ft. independent shop offering E-Ton vehicles, pre-owned street and off-road units, service, OEM parts, accessories and apparel.
Business was good but could have been better, says Stacie Perkowski. "The No. 1 comment heard from off-road customers was, 'Where can we ride?' After some thought, we decided the time was right to make the big jump and offer them what they had been asking for — a place to buy it and ride it."
The Perkowskis found the perfect site five miles down the road from their old store in LaOtto, pop. 40,300. Then-landowner Donna Griffis offered Stacie five acres of property in exchange for a 25 percent share in the Motoplex.
Although local and county authorities had few reservations about the planned facility, challenges appeared at the state level, simply because it had never been done before. "The state of Indiana had nothing to compare our facility against," Stacie says. "It was a one-of-a-kind structure and recreational facility, and it forced many different departments to come to the table in the path it took to approval."
The Perkowskis obtained financing through the local Farmer & Merchants Bank, and secured a $100,000 investment from Gordon Hubbert (now a shareholder). They initially built the 38,400 sq. ft. dealership building and indoor track, complete with dasher boards and chainlink fence, heated spectator seating for 1,000, restrooms and a concession area.
The Motoplex became a partnership, with the Perkowski kids — Marissa, Trey and Kylie — owning 43.12 percent, Stacie Perkowski with 2.94 percent, Ski Perkowski with 3.94 percent, and Donna Griffis and Gordon Hubbert each owning 25 percent. Stacie and Ski became the operating partners.
The couple intended for the new dealership to be a one-stop shop for everything powersports. But that was hard to do without a vehicle franchise. "So a major franchise name and the outdoor track were two areas of focus to keep customers from going anywhere else," Ski says.
In 2005 the Motoplex secured a Yamaha franchise and soon after began building an outdoor motocross track on an adjacent 28 acres owned by Griffis.
Yamaha's Motoplex now brings in annual sales of $1 million to $2 million retailing Yamaha, E-Ton and Cobra vehicles. The business has eight full-time employees. A four-person team is cross-trained to sell vehicles and parts and accessories in a 1,750 sq. ft. portion of the facility; two techs operate three lifts in a 1,200 sq. ft. service area; and one employee is assigned to e-commerce.
The eighth position is filled by Donna's son, Doug Griffis, who handles track operations. Donna handles the paperwork associated with race activity while Doug works the track. He's helped by as many as 40 temporary workers during race weekends, like last year's state motocross championships.
Everyone's a Customer
Racers and spectators? They are all customers for the dealership.
The indoor track is an AMA District 15-sanctioned motocross venue. This summer the outdoor track will host monthly AMA District 15 motocross races.
The spectator stands are at capacity several times during the year, seating big names like retired Indianapolis Pacers center Rick Smits, NASCAR driver Toney Stewart, and MX riders Shawn Clark, Ryan Koontz, Travis Sewell, Mike Mercer and Greg Crater.
"Having the tracks has brought more footsteps in the door and definitely allowed us to become that one-stop shop," Stacie says. "With the franchises, service, parts and accessories, plus two tracks, why shop anywhere else?"
Customers who purchase a new on-road bike from Motoplex receive their first service free of charge. Even better, customers who purchase a new or used off-road vehicle receive 90 days of free access to the tracks.
The tracks are open to all riders, even though membership fees do apply. An annual membership of $40 gives a rider discounts on open track days and 10 percent off all parts, accessories and service. Yearly unlimited memberships, priced at $550, offer 10 percent discounts plus unlimited practice time on either track. Family packages costing $650 offer 10 percent discounts and unlimited practice time for up to four members of a family. Yamaha's Motoplex sold 550 memberships the first year; that number has tripled in the past four years.
(Spectators pay $10 on race days and $5 on practice days. Children 10 and under are admitted free.)
"Large doors were put in place to control the flow from the dealership to the indoor track," due to liability issues, according to Stacie. "Everyone entering those doors must have a wristband on, which they get by signing a liability waiver."
Track action also is transmitted on televisions positioned throughout the dealership.
There are only a few dealers of other brands in the vicinity, and the nearest in-door riding facility is two and a half hours away in Ohio. So advertising and promotion aren't big problems.
"The best method of advertising has been word of mouth," Stacie says. "In this industry, people tend to talk, and fortunately that has benefited the Motoplex."
About 65 percent of the dealership's advertising expense is devoted to phone directory advertising, 30 percent is devoted to area motorcycle-related publications, and 5 percent is earmarked for Internet advertising. The local newspaper, the Journal Gazette, promotes races in its "Weekend Happenings" edition.
"The most successful print method of advertising for Yamaha's Motoplex at this point has been the Indiana Auto & RV and Cycle USA publications," Stacie notes. Indiana Auto & RV distributes 110,000 copies weekly throughout the state, and Cycle USA is a monthly distributed in five states in the region. "Regular advertising in these two publications has trained the consumer to look there for current happenings and inventory," she adds.
The dealership's website, www.themotoplex.com, features information on events, products and vehicles, and averages more than 230,000 visits per month.
In addition, the Motoplex hosts motocross schools for beginner, intermediate and advanced riders of all ages.
To generate interest from the youth market, The Motoplex offers a "buy one/get one free" spectator pass in Entertainment Books sold by local elementary school students. Stacie says this serves two purposes: "The first is that it offers the community a financial incentive to experience a Motoplex event at a discounted price; and second, all funds raised by the book sales go directly back to area schools and students."
The Motoplex also works with two area youth centers. During motocross events the centers transport children to the facility to serve as VIP guests for the day.
Then there's Team Motoplex, made up of 13 riders who travel Indiana and surrounding states to compete in motocross events. Team riders display Yamaha's Motoplex decals on their motorcycles and trailers in exchange for product and mechanical support.
"Last year we received nearly 90 rider applications for team consideration," Stacie says. "It's really been a fantastic promotional feature."