PowerSports Business

PowerSports Business - June 15, 2015

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OPINION FROM THE EDITOR 14 • June 15, 2015 • Powersports Business www.PowersportsBusiness.com Mark Love is oh so comfortable in his personal boardroom. No drop- down white boards to be found. The window shades don't auto- matically adjust, and the chairs just might be a little muddy. But Love has plenty of room in his boardroom, which covers more than 20,000 acres in the Appalachia region of eastern Tennes- see. Even better, Love pre- fers to keep his boardroom open to off-road aficionados of all types, from ATV and side-by-side riders to bird watchers and hunters. If you love the outdoors, you'll love Love's boardroom, known as Brimstone Recre- ation, LLC, which manages and operates the 300-mile OHV trail system that winds through the lookouts of the Cumberland Mountains in Huntsville, Tenn. Love serves as founder and president of Brimstone. Just a short drive from Knoxville, Brimstone and eastern Tennessee are billing the area as adventure tourism mecca. Over Memorial Day weekend, Brim- stone Recreation attracted tens of thousands of riders and visitors to the town of 1,000 for its White Knuckle Event that brings in a host of country music stars to perform for the off-road riders. Dirt Wheels magazine calls it the "Woodstock of ATVs." Polaris brought its Camp RZR — already a hit in places such as Glamis and Dubai — to Brimstone last year, and will be back again for a Sept. 18-19 event that features country art- ist Jake Owen. And it's a jewel of a location for OEMs to launch their off-road vehicles. Yamaha granted select media members a chance to ride the thrilling trails of Brimstone as part of the OEM's 2016 Wolver- ine R-Spec debut earlier this year. Yamaha also serves as a year-round Brimstone sponsor and partner. Brimstone's appeal had me seeking out Love, whom I stopped — after a couple of helpings of some of the best BBQ I had eaten since growing up in Geor- gia — following the aforementioned exhilarating 2016 Wolverine R-Spec drive. "Adventure tourism is a big part of what we do here. With the exodus of manufacturing from the rural areas, what do you have to offer? It's really just the backwoods and nature. That's the economic develop- ment opportunity for rural America — having places for people to come and visit as a destination and pro- vide something different." The terrain provides opportunities for riders and outdoor lovers all types. Love often gets inquiries from visitors about the impressive mountainous landscape. "They'll ask if it's the [Great Smoky Mountains National Park]. No, that's southeast of here, but it's our version of the Smokys." Riders can traverse the 300 miles of trails that lead to places like Round Mountain, Griffy Mountain, Sheep Rock Mountain and Joe Dyer Mountain. Trails have familiar difficulty ratings, allowing for technical climbs over rocks and creeks to everyday trail riding. "Just like a river meanders a little bit, we tend to meander with our trails to create new experiences out there," Love said. "We see a particular element in an area that we want to accentuate, and we just go out on foot to scope it out and look at it. Sometimes we'll take a quad out and run it through the woods just looking, and we'll build the trail by hand. Then the great expe- rience is to build one, and turn around, run the trail and name it. All our trails are named with a reason. For instance, what's the best way to describe what we just built? And 'Rebel Yell' is it. "We also use the local history to name some of the trails, like homesteads or families that had homestead in an area. There's a lot of culture out there. We do have some people that do some rides out in the prop- erty that talk about old times and the history of it, for a cultural expedition. One of the families had a two- room house back in the mountains, and one of the rooms was for the family, and the other room was for the ox, because the ox made the living for the family." Fortunately for the off-road community, the 20,000 acres of land — privately owned in an invest- ment fund — remains available to ride for a nominal fee ($22 for a one-day permit for adults; $88 annually). "I grew up here and rode the mountains ever since I was about 12 or 13 years old," Love recalled. "The pri- vate properties were open for a number of years. But it's just been within the past 10 years or so that we've seen more of a no trespassing-type situation, primarily because of the large landowners. They took their land out of the public sector, and it became private, and they leased it. There were less and less places to ride or recreate because of the parcelization of the large land tracts in Tennessee, and the Southeast in particular." Love, then, figured he was onto something when he put his vision into action. "Basically we saw an opportunity to take it to a fee- based riding area, where we can actually take the rev- enue stream and utilize it to build trails and make it so that people can enjoy the outdoors, whether you want a challenging experience or just a viewscape experience." Love has had several successful business ventures, including a stint as owner of a single-line Honda deal- ership in nearby La Follette, Tenn. In the early 2000s, a family business that began in 1976 with a "JCPenney drill press" was sold to a Fortune 500 company shortly before 9/11 in 2001. Yes, manufacturing those wood reels that the wire, cable and hose industries rely on created some serious bank. Love also once owned a camouflage company and a hydrographics business, as well as an additional wood company. But since opening Brimstone Recreation to trail rid- ers in 2005, Love has found an ideal business setting. "I had a vision once when I was looking through a magazine. It showed a boardroom with suits and ties in an outdoor setting in a mountain range, and I had this vision that I always wanted to do something with the outdoors." And if you ever make it to Brimstone, bring your fishing gear. The bridge over the New River on the property there is known for its smallmouth, walleye, and yes, trophy musky. PSB Dave McMahon is editor in chief of Powersports Busi- ness. Contact him at 763/383-4411 or dmcmahon@ powersportsbusiness.com. 1. Investment means Arctic Cat less primed for buyout, analyst says 2. New bill allows Slingshot in Texas 3. Arctic Cat reports net loss in fiscal Q4 2015 4. Honda announces new Africa Twin CRF1000L 5. Arctic Cat announces $27 million investment in Minnesota operations 6. New Indian Motorcycle dealership is state's third 7. OEM offers $35 voucher as part of test ride promotion 8. Polaris to participate in DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals 9. KTM launches asphalt-use e-motorcycle in Europe 10. US Highland plans to acquire 2-4 powersports brands, CEO says 11. Motorcycle lending leads to federal lawsuit 12. Ducati dealers top PSI for second consecutive year 13. North America sales drop 24 percent in April for Euro brand 14. Polaris encourages off-road enthusiasts to support RIDE Act into law 15. Electric bike maker gets $1 million grant from California The headlines above belong to the most frequently viewed articles from Powersports Business' three-times weekly e-news during the May 6-May 27 period. The number is based on the percentage of e-news viewers who clicked on the article's headline. To subscribe to e-news, go to www.powersportsbusiness.com/newsletter-signup. WHAT'S THE HOTTEST INDUSTRY TOPIC? Powersports Business blog ONLINE WITH POWERSPORTSBUSINESS.COM Leading industry executives and dealer consultants are among the contributors to PSB's blog. See below for recent blogs. This boardroom comes with an impressive view Visit powersportsbusiness.com/blogs PSB builds Google+ following For the past year, Powersports Business' Google+ account has provided another outlet for dealers and industry leaders to receive updates on the powersports world. From videos of OEM offerings to pictures of the latest models, our Google+ gives readers a daily dose of powers- ports knowledge. In addition to powersports, posts also include best business practices and suggestions for success in the industry. Not sure if you're in our circle? Join today and stay in the conversation at https://plus.google.com/+Powersportsbusiness. NATE STICKNEY Managing Partner, Sky Group Powersports In today's powersports dealership, 80 percent of the leads dealerships receive come through the phone and Internet. The majority of our business is dependent on the salesperson's ability to set appointments and drive people into the showroom. AMANDA WHITE Account Manager, PowerSports Network LinkedIn was built on the ability to con- nect professionals with qualified can- didates. Joining and facilitating groups will increase valuable connections by bringing you and your staff closer to consumers, future employees and other industry professionals. TOMMY ADY Founder, The WriteBack It's not a secret that most dealerships typically have one warranty provider, and they seldom sell another brand. You've got a warranty company, and you're loyal to them — which doesn't help you make as much money as you should be making. COLLEEN MALLOY Director of Marketing, ARI One of the key goals of your website is to make it easy for a visitor to raise his or her hand and say, "I'd like to do business with you." That virtual hand up may come from a form sub- mission, an e-commerce sale or a good old-fashioned phone call. DAVE McMAHON Brimstone Recreation LLC president and founder Mark Love started with a vision and has seen the ATV park flourish over the last decade.

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