TR's Steve Johnson: 'Don't just sell them a bike and say goodbye'

Publish Date: 
Sep 29, 2012

EDITOR'S NOTE: STEVE JOHNSON earlier this year announced his plans to retire in next March after 12 years of running Tucker Rocky Distributing as president and chief operating officer.

Tucker Rocky, which employs about 700 and serves some 10,000 dealers and 860 suppliers, is based in Fort Worth, Texas, but actually is a subsidiary of LDI Ltd., an Indianapolis-based investment and holding company.

Johnson is an avid motorcycle rider who instilled the passion for the sport and the lifestyle to his family. Earlier this summer, contributing editor Joe Delmont talked with Johnson on the industry, the dealers, and the future of the distribution channel. We present Five Questions from the interview here.

Dealernews: Tucker Rocky handles more than 100,000 SKUs, and in North America alone it distributes products to some 10,000 retailers. Do you have tips for new dealers?

JOHNSON: Spend a lot of time observing the good dealers. What are they doing that differentiates them? What are the fundamental levers to their success? It’s not rocket science. Learn from the boys who are doing what it takes to build a successful business. A lot of people in this industry know how to get a good return on their investment. When people invest in a motorcycle dealership, they should enjoy it, but they should get a good investment on their money.

20 Groups are a great way to learn from others. You don’t have to do it yourself; you don’t have to read 100 business books. If you’re not in a 20 Group, or you don’t have a group you can talk to, you can be arrogant and think that you are doing everything right. But until you see other dealers’ numbers, you don’t know. The best thing is to learn from others; the probability of doing it yourself is pretty low.

Riding is a passion sport. Good dealers know that and remember that. They help customers enjoy that passion on their new motorcycle. Show them how they can use their new motorcycle. Help them plan trips. Show them rides in the area. Show them products that will make their ride more enjoyable —  cameras, communications systems, accessories, apparel. It’s really about helping people make informed decisions. Riding is about people. It’s a passion sport. Don’t just sell them a bike and say, “Goodbye.”

As a distributor, what does Tucker Rocky do for the dealers?

First, we have to provide them with the right products, ones that dealers can sell because [the products] are what their customers want. We also have to have a good fill rate; we have to deliver to dealers. That wasn’t always true when I started here. Flexibility also is important; we try to give our reps flexibility in dealing with dealers. Finally, you have to have competitive pricing. If you focus on those basics, you’ll do a good job for the dealer.
What about your suppliers?
We really try by expanding our product portfolio. We’ve grown by more than 100 percent, increasing from about 40,000 SKUs to more than 100,000 SKUs. And our sales have grown more than that. Part of the growth is making sure that we’ve got the right products. (Continued)