North or South, East or West; regardless of brand, most dealerships are laid out in the same way. You walk in and there are all these motorcycles, front and center on the floor. Clothing and accessories are around the walls and in the back, where there is a door to the service department. WMR, located on I-95 on the Central Florida coast, doesn’t look like that.
“We moved into our new building two years ago,” explained owner Bob Brewster. “I didn’t want to have a traditional dealership, so bikes are not the first thing you see. I wanted the showroom to look more like Bass Pro Shops — a lifestyle shop. I wanted our place to be fun for the whole family. There’s a fireplace in the showroom, and some people spend the whole day here.”
The fireplace, complete with comfortable seating and a coffee table, is centrally located, among department store size displays of helmets, motocross accessories and clothing.
“We are providing an experience. A place you can meet people. It’s not just buy and go home,” Brewster said. “We are in a tourist area and our out of town and international customers come to visit us when they are vacationing in Florida. We are happy to give our customers tours of the facility. We are proud of how clean it is — we scrub the floors every Friday.”
There are a lot of floors to scrub — the service areas are large, very organized and separate from the equally large and well organized machine shop.
The fact that the motorcycles are not front and center does not stop WMR from selling lots of motorcycles — the dealership is one of the top KTM and Husqvarna dealerships in the country. The company also sells Oset off-road electric motorcycles, aimed at children and teenagers, and Stacyc electric strider cycles, intended to get little kids in on the fun.
“There’s a park across the street,” Brewster said. “I’m thinking of putting in a pump track there for strider bicycles. We need to get little kids on two wheels.”
Brewster thinks it is important to get kids on bikes and has a lot of personal experience with kids who ride.
“I always raced and rode, and my kids have been riding since they were 6 and 7 years old. When they were in their mid-teens, I bought a shop in Lake Worth. That was in 1999. We did suspension and tuning.” Brewster is a real genius at dialing in competition off-roaders, and the word spread around the motocross and enduro communities.
As a result of Brewster’s knack for making dirt bikes go fast, WMR is actually three businesses in one — a motorcycle dealership, a race shop specializing in suspension and tuning and a wholesale and retail machine shop, operating under the Nihilo trademark. Nihilo (part of a Latin phrase meaning something from nothing) occupies a separate section of the dealership building and manufactures carbon fiber skid plates, specially designed brake pedals, titanium fork guard brackets and other items for the off-roader with a yen for a Number One plate.
WMR does tuning for top amateur and many professional race teams, and sponsors as many young riders as possible, with an eye to nurturing future pros. As a result of becoming a licensed WP Suspension Service Center, WMR has access to a library of settings proven by top professional motocrossers and supercrossers.
“We are the number one race shop in the Southeast,” Brewster said, quietly stating a matter of fact. “We have pretty good results. Our bikes come with suspension tuning guarantees. We will make free adjustments, but in reality, very few bikes come back.” The shop sells bikes touched with the WMR magic all over the world.
All three WMR businesses are family operations. Brewster’s son, Joe, is the general manager. Son Bobby is in charge of the machine shop operation. Their mother Tina does the accounting for the businesses. Daughter-in-laws Julie and Katie work in sales administration and rider support.
“My youngest grandson, Levi, like my other grandchildren, is growing up in the shop,” Brewster said proudly. “We had a meeting with the Stacyc electric bike people and he wanted to attend and got a pencil and paper.”
Brewster has found that the best advertisement he can get is a WMR or Nihilo decal on the rear fender of the rider at the front of the pack.
“Our best advertising is word of mouth. We do very little conventional advertising and concentrate on social media and the web.”
In addition, WMR has a presence at Loretta Lynn’s, the Mini Olympics and the All Amateur Nationals — all places where race teams tired of seeing that decal in front of them might want a little WMR magic of their own.
At WMR, customer service is front and center. Excellent customer service is often mentioned in online shop reviews and is a major reason why customers come to the dealership instead of buying online.
“You have to have something above and beyond,” Brewster said. “We have people come in who want to look at our stuff and you know they are going to go home and buy it on the internet. Our sales guys are pros. They talk up our customer service, how we give riders a helping hand, how we answer questions, and a lot of the time, the person will end up buying here.”
After the sale, WMR stays in touch by sending birthday and anniversary cards as well as supporting the Florida Trail Riders Association. WMR also gets involved in local initiatives and charity events, such as collecting toys for underprivileged children.
Brewster has a lot of ideas on how to get new riders on bikes. “When I was a kid, EVERYONE had minibikes. We would go riding all over. Kids don’t do that anymore; the parents are afraid they will hurt themselves and we have lost an entire generation. A college ambassador program, where OEM’s introduce young people to riding motorcycles on college campuses, would be an excellent idea. I would like to push driver’s ed in high school, and have the class have a motorcycle component as well. We need to get kids started on wheels young.”
He also is very interested in electric motorcycles. “It’s an exciting time for electric technology. In a short time, electric motorcycles have come a long way, and dealers have to be ready to reinvent themselves. Look at the four-stroke revolution — for a long time two strokes were the only way to go on dirt and then all the two strokes were phased out. I think there will always be a demand for the internal combustion engine. Recently, we have seen renewed interest in two strokes.
“You have to be ready for anything in this business.”