By Liz Keener, Managing EditorFiled under Features, In this issue, Top Stories
Suzuki’s American subsidiary reports profitable first year
Eighteen months after buying the assets of American Suzuki Motor Corporation, the new Suzuki Motor of America, Inc. (SMAI) gathered its dealers to unveil new models, announce new programs, reinvigorate its network and prove that though SMAI is new, the company is rooted in a deep history.
In early October, SMAI hosted its first dealer meeting since American Suzuki dissolved its automotive business, and SMAI formed and took control of the powersports and marine segments of Suzuki in the U.S. The meeting, held at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, was an opportunity for SMAI to show its current dealers what the company has been working on since April 2013, and to recruit new dealers into its network.
“I’m proud to say that in the first year of our operation, we were profitable. That’s pretty remarkable when you consider all the upheaval we had — stopping the car business, employee loads and overheads, ” SMAI vice president of sales and marketing Larry Vandiver told Powersports Business.
Though the transition had its difficulties, Suzuki’s powersports and marine businesses have come out stronger.
“It allowed us to go back and focus on what our core business has always been here in the U.S., and that’s motorcycles, ATVs — of course those came a little later — scooters and our marine business. It allowed us to put our focus and our effort and all the effort of our corporation into making sure that this business runs, ” Vandiver said.
Rebuilding a dealer network
When SMAI took control of Suzuki’s powersports segment in the spring of 2013, it did so shortly after American Suzuki had cut about 100 of its poorest-performing dealers, leaving the OEM with about 750 dealerships in its network. Since then, however, the company has been looking to regrow its network, with an aim of reaching 1, 000 retailers.
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