If I were to mention “Canton, Ohio,” “sports” and “Hall of Fame” in the same sentence, many people will instantly think of professional football, but our playbook brings up a different call; Bair’s Powersports, a Polaris Hall of Fame dealer in North Canton, Ohio.
Bair’s Powersports originally opened in 1948, selling Ferguson and Oliver tractors, and as the landscape slowly shifted to an urban setting, they shifted their focus to match, eventually evolving into a lawn and garden center, then in 1967, they became the first Polaris dealer in Ohio after adding their snowmobile line.
Partnering with the company in the early ‘70s, Cloyse and Deloris Cheyney took ownership in 1976 and it’s been a family affair ever since. Shaping the company and building their success for the future were the values they have always held: honesty, integrity and a strong focus on customer care.
Embraced by the community and loyal customers, the company steadily grew, adding Polaris ATVs in 1985, Polaris Watercraft in 1992, Victory Motorcycles in 1998, Indian Motorcycles in 2014 and Slingshot in 2016.
With both facets of the business competing for space, they decided to split them up. It’s all still in the family, with Brad and Clay Cheyney taking ownership of Bair’s Powersports, building a new facility and moving to their current location in 2016, and the lawn and garden center remaining at the original location, owned by their sister and brother-in-law.
A short drive from MPN’s offices, I arrived at Bair’s Powersports, pulling up to their well-kept, welcoming facility. Walking in, I was greeted by a warm and comfortable atmosphere, created both by the friendliness of the employees and the well-designed interior motif.
Their showroom floor was lined with snowmobiles on the left and ATVs and UTVs on the right, leading into a commanding presence of Indian Motorcycles and the always-fun accessory and apparel department. I was welcomed by two of their experienced staff and rolled right into easy conversation, feeling as if I had known them for years.
After being introduced to Marketing Manager Jeana Poa and Owner Brad Cheyney, I spoke with them to get a better understanding of the company’s success through their mission statement, “to provide premium product at a fair price and back it up with great customer service,” a statement that is a clear foundation for business operation.
Cheyney explained some of the main factors that reflect their dedication to the customer and contribute to the company’s formula for success: products, employees, daily operations, sales and service.
“We believe in the brands we sell and stand behind them,” Cheyney said. He went on to explain that they don’t try to entice people with confusing or tricky sales tactics, nor do they offer lowest price claims. “We offer our products at a fair price and stand by it.”
Employees at Bair’s Powersports are treated like family and valued as cornerstones of the business. It is important that they are able to make a good living and feel like they are an integral part of the business.
“Excellent employee morale leaves a good impression with customers and brings them back,” Cheyney said. “Getting repeat customers is huge.”
When it comes to daily operations, everyone works as a team. Different people hold different positions, but they all contribute to the overall daily maintenance and facility operations and know that the success of the business is dependent on teamwork.
“Everyone here does what needs to be done and the bottom line is to take care of the customer,” Cheyney said.
On the sales side of the business, Cheyney does not believe in handing customers off to different people for different aspects of the sale.
“Let the guy who started with a customer go from start to finish so there’s no disconnect,” Cheyney said.
This is an approach that they have used that makes their customers feel completely comfortable during the entire sales process, and no-pressure tactics are equally as important. Each salesperson handles everything, including F&I.
Their service department is another big part of their success. “The more you take care of the customer in service, the more you’ll sell up front,” Cheyney said. Bair’s Powersports technicians are dedicated employees who have been there for many years. They are factory trained and certified on Polaris products, and are very proud of the contributions that they make to the overall operation of the company.
Bair’s Powersports is also heavily involved in the community. They host events throughout the year to bring in new riders and owners, and they have a riders group that is very active throughout the year. They take part in a holiday food drive each year, and tie in Veterans Day events with donations to Goodwill or Salvation Army. They have offered unique programs, such as making a donation to Akron Children’s Hospital for each person who came in to test drive a Slingshot.
“We’ll continue to participate in community service,” Poa said, “Indian and Polaris have always been very supportive to veterans, offering promotions to save on motorcycles.”
It’s no surprise they were named Polaris Hall of Fame dealer in 2005, won the Platinum Indian Motorcycle Dealer Award, were twice voted “The Best Motorcycle Shop” on the Akron-Canton “Hot List” and were awarded the Canton Regional Chamber of commerce’s Business Excellence Award in 2017.
They are one of the 10 oldest Polaris dealerships in the world, and with many veteran employees and family members holding to their family values and mission statement, they are poised for a future of success.