Wise Choice Powersports opened its doors in 1997 when owner Bryan Wise began selling lawn mowers and farming equipment. He’s a native of the small, Northwest Ohio town Tiffin and grew up on a farm. Starting a business centered on the industry made the most sense. However, growing up, he spent a countless amount of time riding on three-wheelers, ATVs and dirt bikes, and he learned a lot tinkering on them as a child.
Wise eventually went to college on a full scholarship to become an automotive technician, since at the time, there were no powersports-focused programs in Ohio. In 2002, the business transitioned into a powersports dealership and has continued to evolve since its inception.
Wise Choice Powersports is a fairly small family operation. Wise’s son, Trenton Wise, is the sales manager; Trenton’s two younger brothers, who are seniors in high school, work part-time in various roles; Wise’s wife handles bookkeeping; and then there is a secretary and technician. That isn’t to say that they don’t have reach or name stay in their location.
The dealership is unique in that it caters to a particular niche in the powersports community: riders who wants to have some fun without spending a ton of money! Wise Choice carries quality lines of Chinese ATVs, dirt bikes, scooters, mopeds, go-karts, UTVs, and parts in stock for each brand and vehicle.
Some might be quick to judge Chinese-manufactured vehicles and discount them as “cheap” or “unreliable,” but the team at Wise Choice assures its customers that they are getting the best equipment available.
“We get people all the time that tell us they’re skeptical of our products,” Trenton says. “We attack the stigma head-on and explain to our customers that we prep and assemble the products properly each and every time. We’ve been through so many different brands, and some of them weren’t the best quality; that’s why we don’t sell them anymore. We’ve been in the business long enough to know what’s good and what’s not, so what you see on our shelf right now is what we trust.”
Looking at its catalog today, Wise Choice has built a diverse list of manufacturers and brands to choose from. It’s found the most success selling Kayo products, which have also begun being sold in more name-brand stores. Hammerhead Offroad, which is its go-kart brand of choice, is another Chinese brand but was acquired by Polaris back in 2015. The Canadian brand Argo also appears in the showroom, with ATVs and UTVs built in Taiwan and very similar to Kymco vehicles.
Trenton explained that the most important part of marketing Chinese vehicles is to explain the prep work involved and maintenance after the sale to make the vehicles last. Every unit sold is assembled with Loctite, goes through inspection and is test-driven at the shop to make sure it’s ready for customers. Vehicles don’t simply get sold in a crate like they would be online.
Customers also get general maintenance explained to them before the sale, and if a problem with a vehicle arises, it will get fixed. Strong customer service is a big part of the Wise Choice business model and a perk of buying at a small family business. This isn’t more apparent than in the glowing Facebook and Google reviews you’ll find online from satisfied customers.
“Our biggest strength as a business is simply that we truly care,” Trenton says. “We all love the industry and are invested in it, and we want to see others start their journey with powersports or upgrade to something new. You won’t always find that sort of passion at a bigger place. And since we’re smaller, we have more time to really fit the needs of each individual customer.”
Since Chinese vehicles are priced significantly lower than name brands like Polaris, Can-Am and Honda, they bode well for customers who are just diving into powersports and want to start on a small scale and avoid breaking the bank. In line with its philosophy of helping customers start their journeys and find something that fits their needs, Wise Choice offers a wide variety of youth vehicles.
In fact, vehicles catered to children take up a majority of the company’s catalog. Many of the ATVs, dirt bikes and go-karts are priced under $2,000. Trenton explains that the biggest sellers currently are the Kayo Fox 70cc and the other 125cc youth ATVs on the show floor. It’s also important to note that Wise Choice doesn’t charge extra fees on the back end of sales like many big-name brands do.
Wise Choice has expanded and evolved its catalog of products over the years to hit a more diverse audience though. Recently, it began carrying American Landmaster UTVs, which are made in the U.S. These are the dealership’s most expensive products and fill the hole of utility vehicles that were missing before.
“I believe the greatest challenge we face is the marketing side of the business. We’re a small family company in a small town of about 20,000, so it’s hard for us to get our name out there when there’s a lot of bigger dealership and online avenues for people to take. A lot of time, people will go to those dealerships and pay for an extra half of a vehicle in fees, so we try to get the word out that we’re a better option.”
Trenton and the team have begun utilizing Instagram, Facebook and YouTube more and more to showcase new products and what’s going on at the dealership. They’ve even experimented with doing tutorial and maintenance videos.
In the near future, Wise Choice has plans to expand its catalog of larger, more expensive vehicles like the American Landmaster UTVs and be able to service and work on any of the name brands in its service department. Trenton’s younger brothers will be attending Ohio Technical College in the fall to grow their knowledge of the name brand industry and plan to return to the family business afterwards to help with expansion.