January 8, 2013
Torrance, CA - MotorcycleUSA.com
American Suzuki Motor Corporation (ASMC), a subsidiary of Japan’s Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC) on Nov. 5 commenced a business reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, ending automobile sales in the United States and vowing to devote all efforts to its motorcycle, ATV and marine business.
Six days after the announcement, on Nov. 11, ASMC hosted nearly 1000 Suzuki motorcycle and ATV dealer representatives at Las Vegas for the company’s annual business meeting – an event that had been scheduled months in advance.
Understandably, due to the timing of the meeting in relation to the Chapter 11 filing, dealers in attendance were abuzz about the topic.
“It was a difficult but necessary decision – and, when all is said and done, Suzuki dealers will become stronger,” ASMC Senior Director of Motorcycle/ATV/Marine Operations Larry Vandiver announced to the assembled crowd, dismissing any notion that the move would negatively impact the businesses that powersports dealers worked hard to build. “The judge has approved every motion we have made, and so far everything is going as planned.
“We want to ensure the continued expansion of sales of Suzuki brand motorcycles, ATV and marine products in the United States, and so the last thing we would want to do is harm the brand.”
Vandiver was quick to point out that both GE Capital and Sheffield Financial have agreed to continue to support Suzuki’s dealer network, with GE offering dealers floor plan financing and Sheffield offering consumers retail finance opportunities.
AMA star Blake Young speaking with Rod Lopusnak at the annual Suzuki business meeting in Las Vegas. And, on the competition front, ASMC leadership also vowed to continue its strong presence as a sponsor of teams in Supercross, outdoor motocross and road racing, and heralded Blake Young, James Stewart, Elena Myers, Ricky Carmichael and a host of other racers in attendance to promote the fact.
Building on the momentum offered by the appearance of the racers, Rod Lopusnak, National Sales Manager – Motorcycle/ATV, announced that ASMC’s powersports business had achieved 12% sales growth in 2012 and would be targeting 15% growth in 2013 (Suzuki’s 50th year in the U.S.).
“To have a healthy brand, you must have exciting products,” Lopusnak told dealers from on stage before revealing the company’s plan to offer 47 motorcycles, scooters and ATVs for the 2013 model year (up from 40 products in 2012 and 28 products in 2011).
"We're starting a new company, in a way," Vandiver explained during a press conference the evening prior to the dealer meeting. "Other companies – Chrysler, General Motors – have done it, and so can we. We're going to get back to our roots, when it was just a motorcycle company.”
Ultimately, it appears powersports retailers believe the business move to be in the best interest of all parties involved. One dealer, who asked not to be named, said his Suzuki sales “aren’t pretty” but conceded that ASMC’s decision was sensible.
“Smart businesses cut the fat and concentrate on what they do best,” he said. “This is really going to streamline their operations here. So, if they remain true to their word and dedicated to bringing us innovative new product the market wants, I think it’ll all work out fine.
“Most people equate the Suzuki name with motorcycles anyway, don’t you think?”