From the late ’50s through the late ’70s, Rupp Industries produced minibikes, dirt bikes, go-carts, dune buggies and snowmobiles, as well as a number of unique motorized creations. Their entire catalog pegged the “cool” scale with ease. If you’re a kid and your father works for such a company, not only are you the luckiest kid on the block, but you are destined for a life in powersports and that is exactly the case for Dustin Sweeten, owner of Powerhouse Motorsports in Pleasant Grove, UT.
Sweeten has been in and around the powersports industry for over 50 years, owning Ski-Doo and Arctic Cat dealerships prior to opening Powerhouse Motorsports. Faced with a rapidly changing market but constantly challenged with manufacturers dictating the direction of his business, he looked for a brand that would allow him the flexibility to shape his business around the needs of the consumers in his area. The KYMCO line proved to be the perfect fit.
“In KYMCO, we found a partner that let us make our own decisions on what was right for our market,” Sweeten said. “We have grown with them and their product line since we took them on in 2003.”
One of the unique features of Powerhouse Motorsports is they are a KYMCO-only dealer on new products, compared to most KYMCO dealers that only carry them as a secondary line.
“UTVs are, by far, the strongest segment of our market. There are a few die-hard ATV enthusiasts, but the majority have switched over to UTVs,” Sweeten said. “UTVs also generate the most in accessory sales because there is so much available both from the factories and the aftermarket side. Tops, windshields and street-legal kits dominate the list of got-to-have items.”
Filling the niche for the motorcycle, snowmobile and PWC market is their used inventory, built from trade-ins, auctions and private sales, much of it bought off-season.
“You can get great buys on watercrafts in the winter and snowmobiles in the summer. The downside is you have to store them and have money available in a time that they won’t sell,” Sweeten added.
In challenging times, Powerhouse Motorsports learned to adapt their inventory to their market, giving them a unique distinction of a powersports dealer that sells used cars.
“One thing that has kept us in a strong position is being flexible. While my background is in the powersports industry, I also have experience on the automotive side,” Sweeten said. “When the economy took a big hit back in 2007 and 2008, we found that we had to diversify to survive. People were only buying necessities, and everyone needs a car. With the improving economy, that has become less of our business, but we can still fall back on it if needed.”
The sales staff at Powerhouse Motorsports is fully trained on both the automotive and powersports sides and the service department only works on powersports vehicles, but all makes and models, which offers an extra benefit to those customers who own multiple brands.
Sweeten recognizes their commitment to customer service as one of the biggest keys to their success and focuses his advertising on word of mouth, where current customers help bring in new ones based on their personal reference.
“I have always believed that you should treat every customer as if they are your best customer and make them want to come back,” Sweeten said. “Treat them fairly and help them understand that you need to make a fair profit so you will still be in business when they need you.”
A testament to their customer service success is a regional newspaper that does a “Best of” every year, where citizens vote on the best business in a given sector. Powerhouse Motorsports has been voted the best snowmobile dealer for the past 10 years, even without carrying a snowmobile line, and they were also voted the best ATV dealer over that same period.
Family values are reflected in the day-to-day operation of Powerhouse Motorsports, resulting in high employee morale, which elevates this dealership to a whole new level.
“A question we get a lot is ‘why are we closed on Saturdays?’ The answer to that is we love going out with our families and using the products we sell,” Sweeten said. “Most of our employees and the company management choose to spend their Sundays participating in church activities, so Saturday is the day to play with our family. I always say it comes down to whether you work to live or live to work. Does it cost us money? Sure, but I will choose time with my family over a few extra bucks every time.”
Not lost on the importance of community involvement, Powerhouse Motorsports sponsors several local motocross racers and also a vintage snowmobile race every year. They also donate merchandise to several local events that benefit schoolchildren and challenged youth, as well as organize rides for community members and donate machines for the annual Fallen Peace Officers Ride.
Because of their presence in the community, the door is always open at Powerhouse Motorsports.
“We make our dealership a place where people will want to spend time in, even if it is just to tell us how great their last ride was.”