Boy, I really stepped into it this time. I had meant to use this space to wish all my dealer friends a successful holiday selling season and maybe to tell the shocking anecdote concerning this month’s cover shoot. But, believe it or not, the irate letters concerning the October cover and the Cabela’s controversy were completely overshadowed by residual flak from the July “Holeshot.” For those of you who may have forgotten, I opened the can of worms by asking who the real powerhouses in the powersports industry might be. While my friend Malcolm Smith has always been a personal hero, I had to play devil’s advocate and tapped the hornet’s nest by positing that perhaps Mark Tkach and the RideNow Group might be swinging the biggest stick in the business.
Wrong! According to a flood of personal attacks, the questioning of my parentage and a number of suggestions to perform anatomically impossible acts, RideNow is not to be recognized as a player in this industry. Ever! Unfortunately few of the more vehement complainants had the courage to sign their names to their irate rants, which prevented me from explaining my rationale in person, so I will just have to use this column as the means to address the folks who took exception to my suggestions, since I’m not nearly flexible enough to perform the rectal-cranial swap that was anonymously suggested.
“I just read your article about the most important person in the motorcycle industry… you have got to be kidding, Mark Tkach?” Is how one of the anonymous letters starts (all the anonymous ones curiously bore a Phoenix postmark and looked suspiciously like they had come from the same printer, but I digress).
“Before you write an article, you should investigate whom you write about. Mark Tkach and his group are the biggest crooks in the motorcycle industry. Why don’t you come out to Arizona and check these crooks out before you write a bunch of bullshit. One thing you did get right, most things that are written in magazines are lies anyway. And your article was full of lies and false facts. Good thing you are the editor of a rag magazine that does not have much circulation. You are a real joke …”
Merry Christmas, indeed! (And for the record, I’m not technically a bastard since I do happen to know who my father is and have a birth certificate to verify that fact). Also, while the trade-only publications certainly have smaller circulation numbers than our newsstand counterparts, MPN has the best BPA-audited readership of any trade rag in the powersports industry (see page 90 for our mandatory statement of ownership and verifiable readership numbers). While I may personally be a joke, there is no joking around with the postal authorities or the BPA auditors!
Mr. Nameless is right about my column containing a couple of false facts, though. When I wrote the July Holeshot, the RideNow Group only listed 28 dealerships on their website, there are now 30+ stores in the family. I also rounded the number of employees down, and I have since been informed that number is now pushing 1,600 staffers in five different states. I sincerely apologize for this misinformation. However, I stand by the rest of what I wrote. I never commented on the business operations, store tactics or Mr. Tkach personally. Instead I simply stated that having the strength of numbers like these is tantamount to having some real horsepower in the powersports market. This remains a true statement as far as I’m concerned. However, I did ask Mark Tkach about his business practices and unlike the folks hiding behind poison pen letters, he is quite willing to put his money where his mouth is.
“I appreciated the unsolicited (and in my opinion, undeserved) mention in your July issue, but I am remembering now why I’ve kept such a low profile over the years,” says Tkach. “While I know you can’t make everyone happy, I do not apologize for making an honest living in this always changing (and challenging) world of retail.
“Would the unnamed dealer prefer we advertise our vehicles at $500 to $2,000 below invoice as a half-dozen other dealers in our market do? Also, for the record, we changed our name because we do business in five states now, not just Arizona, and we have thousands of satisfied customers who do keep coming back, unlike the giveaway artists selling into five states (or more) from one location waiting for their rebate checks in the hopes of turning a profit. I would be happy to discuss with anyone (willing to sign their name to a letter) how and why we do business the way we do. I would love to hear the justification for the way they do theirs.”
One of my mentors on the shop side, the late great “Uncle Paul” W