Tucker Rocky Surviving Slump

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New-unit slowing hasn't affected P&A sales, says Tucker Rocky

DALLAS — Officials at Tucker Rocky Distributing want dealers to know that the recent slowdown in vehicle sales hasn't been a detriment so far to the parts-and-accessories business.

"The aftermarket continues to be very strong," says Glenn Urquhart, director of the distributor's ATV business. "New-unit sales are flat and down, we all know that, but aftermarket accessory sales are very strong, and the dealers need to really keep their eyes on that. They can't let new-unit sales damper their enthusiasm for parts and accessories."

Urquhart echoes a message Tucker Rocky president and CEO Steve Johnson shared with 137 sales representatives and nearly 90 manufacturers attending the distributor's sales meeting here in June. "One of the comments I first made to the manufacturers when we all arrived here was that, while we hear that dirtbike sales are down 17 percent, we hear ATV sales are down 10 percent, we hear dealers are being cautious, and we hear the economy is getting flat, don't tell our reps, because the way they're doing business keeps us growing and doing very, very well," Johnson says.

"I don't want anyone to think that because ATV and dirtbike sales are down for now, that we're going to stop growing. We're ... building on the four fundamental strategies we've been talking about over the last year or so — people, fill rates, products and flexibility."

Growth can be counted in a number of ways, and growth in sales doesn't always reflect a company's actual growth.

"On a percentage basis [overall company growth] has slowed down a little bit as we've gotten larger," Johnson acknowledges. "The cubic dollars are still growing, but as we get to be a larger company I would say overall company growth slowed a little bit."

ATV: Double-Digit Growth

Urquhart says Tucker Rocky has been seeing "outstanding growth" in the ATV segment: "Still strong into the double digits" for the seventh straight year, he notes.

"Sport quads and the side-by-side market make up two of the strongest growing ATV segments in the past year," Urquhart explains. "We took a dedicated approach to the side-by-sides shortly after the Rhino came out, and we have a good ground floor of vendors. So we've been adding to the segment, but there's still a lot more to add to it, both on the utility side and the sport side.

"Regarding sport quads," he continues, "We've added a significant number of high-end vendors who'd've otherwise never gone through distribution — for instance, Laeger and Elka shocks."

Dealers should expect to see a large batch of new product from the QuadBoss and Ducks Unlimited brands in the fourth quarter.

"We're still very, very bullish on the ATV segment, and I think it's going to continue to be a big part of our future growth," Johnson says.

Off-Road: 'Doing Very Well'

"Our entire off-road segment at Tucker Rocky is doing very well," says Josh Whittaker, director of TR's off-road business, which includes the Answer, MSR and ProTaper house brands. "Despite the downturn in vehicle sales, we're still hitting our numbers."

The distributor launched a number of new MSR and Answer products at the sales meeting. Whittaker says the company has been working hard at formulating strategies to better market these items.

"We worked hard last year to get Answer promotionals up to a place we thought they needed to be," Whittaker explains. "The product was there, but they just needed some promotion, and so that's what they got. And with that came some unprecedented sales growth that really exceeded our expectations.

With MSR, the company created different price points to attract new buyers. "In the top end, we have our new NXT pant, which may be the lightest pant on the market, weighing in at only 2.6 lbs.; in the middle we added a new mid-grade price point vented pant, the MaxAir; and then farther down the line we have the lower-end Axis pant," Whittaker says.