Twenty-five years ago, brothers Matt and Mike Jackson took a chance and followed their passion with the opening of a new business world. Matt grew up racing motocross and longed to be involved with the industry, and older brother Mike was also a rider.
“I used to race motocross and hare scrambles in high school, and it stuck with me since,” said Matt Jackson, co-owner of World of Powersports. “I took my passion and turned it into the World of Powersports.”
World of Powersports employs about 100 people between their three locations in Decatur (the original store), Springfield, and Peoria, Illinois.
Situated along the Sangamon River and Lake Decatur in the central part of the state, Decatur is the largest city in Macon County. Even with large employers such as Caterpillar Inc., which operates one of its largest manufacturing plants in Decatur, and many agricultural ties as well, the area is known as “Soy City,” the capital of soybean production. But with a smaller population in Decatur, the Jackson brothers saw a need to add more stores to reach their powersports goals.
With farming and Caterpillar so close by, there is a natural affinity for utility vehicles. Still, perhaps because of the country roads, there’s a large number of on-road motorcycles in the area. According to World of Powersports Marketing Director Sierra Muma, a large percentage of their business today comes from selling UTVs as well as pre-owned motorcycles. “Polaris, Can-Am, and Honda are our best sellers,” she said. “But our niche would be the wide selection of American and metric used motorcycles.”
World of Powersports Inc. is a franchised dealer for Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Polaris, Sea-Doo, Ski-Doo, Bombardier ATV, Arctic Cat, Triumph, Parts Unlimited, Tucker Powersports, SSR, CF Moto, Custom Chrome, Fox Racing and many others.
With the dealership being owned by two brothers that started their first business while still in high school, there’s an entrepreneurial spirit entrenched in their employees. Muma said that most of their employees have a passion for the sport, even though she has only been involved in the industry for a short time (since October 2019). And the Jackson brothers both still ride and enjoy time on ATVs and personal watercraft. The brothers’ philosophy is that the business of powersports should be fun for everyone, including employees and customers.
“We believe in building lasting relationships with our partners and employees while serving the community’s recreational enthusiasts,” Matt said.
In 2012, the Jackson brothers purchased a second store in nearby Peoria, IL, reviving a dealership that was set to close. They said it was an opportunity that came at the right time and was too good to pass up. According to Matt, they already did about 20% of their business with customers from Peoria at the Decatur store, so it made sense to add a location there.
Somewhere in the mix, the brothers also purchased a Ford dealership in Decatur; Jackson Ford. With a growing demand from multiple locations and business interests, older brother Mike has taken on most of the duties with the Ford dealership. At the same time, Matt continues to focus on World of Powersports.
The next move for WoP came in 2017, with the purchase a third dealership in Springfield. The brothers bought out Overturf Powersports that had been in business since 1967 and added more OEM lines to round out their product mix. “We added CF Moto, Suzuki and Yamaha to the Springfield location while strengthening our position with Polaris Off-Road and Slingshot,” Matt said.
Matt and his team also spend time at industry training events to look for ideas and find products that will help them grow. And the investment is beginning to pay off as they are working the world of e-commerce with great success. “Our online presence is becoming a bigger aspect of this business everyday between selling bikes and parts on eBay, Amazon and through our dealer website,” Matt explained. “It’s still relatively new for us, but the last year or so, it’s taken off and become a major contributor to the bottom line.”
As the marketing specialist for WoP, Muma handles all of the advertising for the three locations. She said they buy ads on the radio and in magazines, as well as a local trading magazine in the area, but she said that most of their leads are coming from social media.
“We have a significant presence on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I think our social media and our digital advertising initiatives push more leads to us. The magazine stuff does help reach those that aren’t online, but I think that our social media presence is what drives a majority of our sales.”
Currently, WoP has a couple of thousand followers on Instagram and Twitter. But their Facebook pages are where they reach the most followers and have the most impact with 8,000 – 9,000-page likes. Muma said that they also have an annual bikini bike wash every year that gets customers to bring their machines in for a wash as well as service.
With most of the area competitors now part of the WoP family, the desire to outsell the local dealer down the street is not as strong, but Muma said that one thing the differentiates them from everyone else is their hours.
Most of the other dealers around central Illinois are only open Monday through Friday. “We’re open on Saturdays until five, so that gives people who work through the week time to come in on Saturdays. We also have a two-mile test track on the property so that people can come in and take bikes out for a ride.”
The Jacksons have come a long way since their first business in high school, and they’ve continued to grow WoP in a challenging environment. In our view, a world of powersports sounds just perfect.