Geographically located in the heart of the snowiest city in the United States and about two miles from Pennsylvania’s most visited state park, Aleks Powersports has embraced the four-season climate in Erie, PA, to help their dealership thrive.
Walking into the dealership, the first thing that will catch your attention is the bright orange 1970 Moto-Ski hanging from the ceiling, followed by several classic Yamaha motorcycles, Chicago Scooter Company scooters, Kymco ATVs and UTVs and Hammerhead go-karts, just to name a few.
Fifty years ago, Chet Aleksandrowicz opened Aleksandrowicz Snowmobiles, a small snowmobile business with five Moto-Ski snowmobiles for sale in Erie County. He later added Fox and Bonanza Mini-Bikes, Bridgestone Motorcycles and Mini-Bikes, Ossa Motorcycles and Yamaha, upon the business’ move to a new storefront under the name “Chet Aleks Yamaha” in 1973.
The dealership expanded into the boating industry with the addition of Mariner Outboard Motors and Starcraft Boats in 1976.
Noticing the demand near the Great Lakes in the marine industry, the dealership relocated to their current location in 1985, approximately two miles from the shores of Presque Isle State Park, which welcomes over 4 million visitors each year, all of whom pass the dealership on their way to the beach.
Bryan and Mark Aleksandrowicz, Chet’s two sons, grew up in the dealership, following in their father’s footsteps.
“The weather in Erie is unpredictable, so we offer something for every season,” Mark said. “Our proximity to Presque Isle brings in a lot of visitors, including bikers for the annual Roar on the Shore motorcycle rally and for watersports in the summer, not to mention snowmobiling in the winter. We have a lot of agriculture in the area, too. So ATVs and UTVs are always good to have in stock.”
Along with the line of Yamaha powersports products including WaveRunners, the family added a full line of Polaris products to their inventory in 1992 and changed the name to Aleks Powersports in 1998.
“Our name reflects who we are and what we do,” Bryan said. “Our customer’s passion is my profession.”
Gaining momentum into the millennium, Aleks Powersports acquired a local Suzuki franchise, added E-Z Go Utility Carts and an Indian Motorcycle franchise by their 35th anniversary.
“There was a significant shift in the market,” Mark said. “We noticed that about eight out of 10 customers didn’t want to buy new anymore and our pre-owned inventory was flying off the floor. So we decided to make a change to focus on selling the best pre-owned products to our customers.”
Inventory at Aleks Powersports goes through a thorough inspection, above and beyond what is required by the state of Pennsylvania.
“When it comes to selling inventory, inspections are a requirement, but can sometimes be ignored when it comes to a sale,” Bryan said. “I’ve known people who have purchased a motorcycle and two months later, it fails an inspection. That’s not how we do business here. If I wouldn’t feel safe riding it, I’m not going to sell it.”
The dealership also offers an in-house warranty on all pre-owned products, differing from manufacturers’ warranties, offering an extra piece of quality to their service.
Aleks Powersports’ service department specializes in year-round maintenance and protection on all powersports vehicles, from complete service to tune ups, including oil changes, winterizing and diagnosis.
“We are a repair shop, not a parts replacement shop. We have great technicians who work here and we see them throughout their entire career,” Bryan said. “The longevity of our service employees’ knowledge expands over 150 to 200 years.”
Being in a high volume area brings a lot of traffic to the dealership, but Aleks Powersports takes it one step further, listing several pre-owned vehicles on Craigslist and eBay, bringing people into their dealership from as far away as Michigan, New Hampshire, Canada and Switzerland.
“We do online listings as well, because we know when someone is looking for a specific vehicle, they’re going online first,” Bryan said, scrolling through a listing on Craigslist with a lengthy description of a motorcycle that was for sale, with at least 15 photos of the vehicle from every angle. “People tell me that they just came from a place and the product they were selling didn’t match what they posted online; that’s where we do things differently. You know exactly what you’re getting. It isn’t like a dating profile; I’m not going to post an old photo of myself and when you come visit, you won’t recognize me.”
Over the businesses’ 50 years, Chet, Bryan and Mark have been building relationships with their customers. The brothers reminisced on several individuals who came in, remembering their names, the first bike or scooter that they sold to them, even the color.
“We are a family business. Our customers turn into friends,” Mark said. “Not only do we use that on our advertising campaigns, we believe in it and live it every day.”