Unemployment rates are still high across the country as the national average inched up to 9 percent this April, and while it’s hard to say how many players in powersports have been affected by the poor job market, we all know someone — I just received an email from a long-time industry partner saying he’d been let go, and he was on the job hunt, and it definitely wasn’t the first news of a friend in powersports losing their job due to downsizing or a dealership closure.
So I can’t even begin to tell you how thrilled I was to hear that Yamaha had decided to make a strategic move to bring the majority of its ATV manufacturing to the U.S.
I was honored to be among the media and dignitaries gathered to celebrate the announcement of this shift in manufacturing to Yamaha Motor Manufacturing Corporation of America’s Newnan, Ga., facility.
The production transfer could add 200 or more jobs to Yamaha’s U.S. factory, and the good news for the U.S. powersports industry doesn’t stop there — Yamaha estimates the production transfer will positively benefit the 100+ U.S.-based parts suppliers that contribute to Yamaha’s ATV line.
While Yamaha’s not quite ready to disclose the 2012 model lineup the Newnan facility is cranking out, I had the opportunity to take a behind-the-scenes factory tour and got a sneak peak at what’s next (stayed tuned to www.motorcycleproductnews.com for full product line details).
Not only was I impressed with the state-of-the-art production facility and the 2012 models, I was incredibly impressed with the passion and dedication of Yamaha’s employees. From the factory floor to the corner office, it is obvious this team is incredibly proud of the work they do.
International cooperation is core to OEM and aftermarket products alike.
Turn to page 32 of this issue to read my interview with Jeanne DeMund of Vega Helmets. While the company’s products are manufactured overseas, Vega’s growing line of helmets, accessories and apparel supports American jobs at facilities in Seattle, Wash., and Columbus, Ohio, not to mention the fleet of sales reps and the American dealer network.
Yep, made in America still matters, but maybe what’s most important is making American jobs, so we’ll all have customers with a little extra jingle in their pockets ready to buy that new ATV.
Colleen Brousil is the editor of Motorcycle Product News. Her monthly column, “The Road Ahead” explores issues facing dealers across the country.