Minnesotans are a tough bunch. Despite the weather, people in Minnesota spend a lot of time outdoors. Snowmobiles are popular in winter, every variety of off-road bike can be seen in the spring and fall, and 4x4s — owned by farmers, hunters and recreation-bound families — are out all year round. Road motorcycles come out as soon as the ice melts off, and Minnesotans love their motorcycles.
“We ride eight or nine months out of the year,” says Joel Erickson, one of Moon Motorsports’ two owners. “I know that Minnesota ranks pretty high in motorcycles per-capita. Since we can’t ride every day, people are excited when riding season comes around.”
Moon Motorsports, now located near I-94 northwest of Minneapolis, is a family-owned dealership that has been in operation since 1955, when Milo Moon Sr. bought a Plymouth and DeSoto automobile franchise. Moon was more interested in motorcycles, and after he obtained a Honda dealership in the early 1960s, motorcycles became the focus.
Eventually, Milo Moon wanted to pursue other interests and sold what was then a thriving Honda store to Denton and Marlys Erickson in early 1971. The Ericksons incorporated the business and started adding brands — one of the earliest being Yamaha snowmobiles. BMW came on board in 1975. Moon’s grandson Earl Moon came to work in the service department and is still there, spinning wrenches as the senior technician. Moon Motorsports just completed the celebration of its 50th year under Erickson family ownership.
Denton and Marlys’ son Jeff took over as general manager in 1982 as the business continued to grow. Like their father before them, Jeff’s sons Joel and Kyle started working at the dealership after school. In a tragic event, Jeff Erickson died in an automobile accident in 2003. The Moon workplace family came together, with senior staff stepping up during this time. As they became more familiar with the business operation, Joel and Kyle gradually took the reins. “We picked up a piece at a time,” Joel says.
In 2008, the Erickson family completed construction of a new, state-of-the-art facility. Joel and Kyle, now firmly in place as owner/operators, began implementing their vision for the business. They took on more brands — the latest one being Husqvarna in 2021. Moon Motorsports now offers the products of 10 different original equipment manufacturers (OEMs): Honda, Yamaha, Polaris, Can-Am, Ski-Doo, BMW, Triumph, Ducati, KTM and Husqvarna.
“With the wide range of products, the dealership stays focused on engaging all of our rider segments, regardless of seasonality,” Joel says. “We also realize and recognize the growing interest and demand of electric motorcycles. With our diverse OEM offerings, we are confident that our current suppliers will provide us with electric options that our customer base will be excited about, which is why we are not presently looking at any standalone electric motorcycle brands.”
Moon Motorsport’s success is due to a number of factors. One is a continuing investment in outreach to the community. In this last uncertain year, while most dealerships have scaled down customer-focused initiatives, Moon has taken the novel approach of doubling down on rider community engagement, appearing at or directly sponsoring over 35 different events. The dealership hosted a vintage motorcycle show with 120 bikes and dozens of vendors.
“We also supported local motorcycle clubs — like the all-female group, the Litas — with bike nights and in-store workshops,” he says.
Moon has also taken a different approach with its website and social platforms. Instead of focusing only on product presentation and advertisements, they utilize their website and social media pages to promote the rider lifestyle and to highlight how they can be of service to all of their customers and their many unique needs.
Another factor in Moon’s success is its house philosophy, “Ride Ready.” This statement is intended less as a slogan and more of a statement of the shop ethos. It is posted prominently on the website with an explanation: “Whether you plan to hit the open road or discover new trails, we want your experience to be the best it possibly can be. We want you to Ride Ready.”
One way this philosophy is expressed is in the dealership commitment to continuing rider education. Moon has in-house educational sessions on a regular basis. Recent seminars included a snowmobile safety course and a touring presentation for Women on Wheels. “We try to make our outreach both social and educational,” Joel says.
New rider training is a current focus for Moon. The Ericksons have noticed an uptick in new riders and are concerned that they get off on the right foot. At present, the dealership refers new riders to Rider Academy, a nearby rider education class.
“We take notice when a new rider comes in,” he says. “It’s exciting. We are currently working hard on regional rider education. The problem has been finding a space for the class. We currently house one to two classes per year, but the demand is great, and we want to meet that demand by supplying more classes.”
When a potential customer comes to the dealership, the shop tries to match that person with an available staff member that is both knowledgeable and an enthusiast in the riding segment that the customer is interested in.
“All of the people who work here are avid participants in different areas of motorsports,” he says. “It makes it easy to relate to a variety of people. People on our staff specialize in different areas. We have the customer talk to the best available salesperson/enthusiast at that time. For example, trail bikes are the core of our industry, and we have several knowledgeable people who can advise, say, parents who want the best bike for their children. Whatever the customer interest is, we work to match them with the right specialist.
“In the next five years, we want to continue to develop what we have. We want to stay involved in riding. We want to understand how changes in the world will affect the dealership and our riders. We intend to grow, but grow organically.
“What makes the riding experience so great will stay the same, despite what is happening in our industry. We as dealers have a tendency of getting caught up in the mechanics, like inventory shortages and OEM demands, and we need to keep that riding experience in mind at all times.”
3613 Chelsea Rd W
Monticello, MN 55362
OEM: Honda, Yamaha, Polaris, Can-Am, Ski-Doo, BMW, Triumph, Ducati, KTM, and Husqvarna.
Aftermarket: Klim, Fly Racing, Kuryakyn, Ikon, SW-Motech, HJC and Shoei
Number of Staff: 49