If your shop is within 100 miles of Gateway Cycles in Mount Sterling, Ky., Carl Rosania may be taking your customers, but, don’t worry, he isn’t doing anything underhanded. On the contrary, Rosania is simply living by the Golden Rule. Supporting racers and charity events has made him one of the top six Kawasaki dealers in the country, and his business is growing, too. He celebrated his birthday by opening a second location in Lexington on April 30.
Rosania started out in a family business, and was looking for something else to do after it was sold in 2001 (he’s one of those people who can’t sit down). Soon, Rosania became acquainted with a woman whose Kawasaki dealership was a sideline to power equipment sales. When she decided to sell, he bought.
Immediately, Rosania moved the business into a strip mall at the busiest intersection in town, just off of the Interstate. “People stop at our exit to buy a burger and end up leaving with a new motorcycle,” he says.
Not long after Rosania bought his Kawasaki dealership, a supplier tipped him off that the Sipes MX riders needed a new sponsor, so Rosania stepped up to the plate and hit a home run. “Barb and Marvin Sipes taught me to sell dirt bikes and introduced me to many more nice families involved in motocross racing. Building a race team taught me what riders need,” Rosania explains.
Rosania now has one hundred racers under his tent. “This year, we formed a GNCC off-road team and have five guys running the national series with remarkable results,” he says. “Each Kawasaki dealer has the option of providing demo bikes to riders and we put as many as we are allowed into demo service with our up and coming racers. We really put on the hustle for our racers. Racers get the parts they need, when they need them, and we do our best for fast turnaround on race repairs. Remember: riders have a mom, a dad and friends all promoting our business. We have a very strong service department: my service manager has twenty years experience!”
Carl may work hard for the racers who associate with his shop, but he has equally high expectations of the kids who ride his bikes on the track. “I have a strict code of ethics: I don’t want any bad guys associated with my shop. My riders have to be good people, live clean lives and keep it fun — all the while being professional and very sportsmanlike. Each rider on our bikes is a salesman in the field.”
Another key to Rosania’s success has been charity events. “We have a really big parking lot,” he says, “and many of the clubs around here put on charity rides where riders enjoy themselves and help a cause. We’ve made new friends here in Lexington from at least five different riding clubs. My new shop near Lexington used to be a nightclub, and I’ve left the bar in there for club events.”
Gateway Cycle, in keeping with the dealership’s customer-oriented focus, has a very interactive website with parts catalogs and the Kawasaki parts fiche online and an extensive photo gallery, with many photos contributed by customers. The website even has a rainy day games page.
Unlike most shops, Rosania pays his salespeople a salary. “Buyers are spending more time before they buy,” he says, “and the key is to be welcoming and patient. Since my salespeople don’t have to sweat, they can have an attitude of, ‘We are here to help you.’ I tell my salespeople that if they can’t sell bikes during a slow month, they can at least make friends.” Rosania calls this his “winning recipe.” “I encourage friendly competition between salespeople that doesn’t affect their wallet,” he says. “I do not want salesmen and women pushing and shoving in front of customers.”
In addition to his well-regarded service department and his knack for promotion, Rosania believes his success comes from his location. “In this area of the country, folks use everything Kawasaki makes,” he says. “We sell equipment to farmers, personal watercraft, on-road bikes, off-road bikes and four wheelers. We sell to professionals and to kids.”
“We get people in here from all the surrounding states,” Rosania says. “We have people coming from miles around because we have a race team with a great reputation, because we are known as the go-to shop for racers and because we are known as regular people. We like bikes, and we like the people who like bikes.”