In a follow up to our Executive Interview in May with Tucker Rocky President Eric Cagle, we spoke to MAG’s CEO Andy Graves to ask some questions that were outside of Eric’s realm. When Motorsports Aftermarket Group (MAG) and Tucker Rocky merged in 2014, there were many questions and rumors flying around. Two years after the merger there are still some persistent rumors, so we spoke to Graves to hopefully clear up the confusion.
What lies ahead for the Tucker Rocky house brands… is there an overarching brand strategy moving forward?
We’re very excited about the opportunity to grow our Tucker Rocky-owned brands. We’ve taken several actions to try to make that happen. First we consolidated our apparel brands into a single organization, and we did that early in 2016. We did that to try to capture the scale benefits of our size, but also to increase the focus on our apparel segment. The apparel segment is really a different animal than our much larger hard parts business.
We tapped Bob Ketchum to lead our Apparel Group. He is a seasoned leader with a long history in powersports and apparel. The Apparel Group reports to me now as part of the Brand Group structure outside of the Tucker Rocky organization. We did this to enable Tucker to increase their focus on distribution activities. Tucker is really focused on being outstanding at distribution. We pulled the brand businesses out, their owned brand businesses, and have taken advantage of our brand development and management capabilities from the legacy MAG businesses.
We had a number of brands across our Brand Group, Tucker Group and Retail Group that we brought all together under single leadership to give us that real focus on apparel, which is different than how you run a hard parts business, to position it that way and capture the real benefits of a brand organization leading that activity.
We did that with the intention to accelerate the growth of those businesses, and we’ve seen some early success. We’re excited about the response to the new Answer line and the Speed and Strength line, which was on display at the Dealer Brand Expo. Bob and the apparel team promised me there’s a lot more exciting stuff to come, too.
Part of the confusion is because there are so many groups. How many groups are there within MAG today?
We run our Retail Group, which is the retail websites. The distribution business, which is Tucker Rocky / Biker’s Choice, and then our Brand Group businesses, which are broken up into either larger categories or stand alone businesses. Two of the categories are the Apparel Group with all of the apparel brands, and the second one is our Offroad Group. We just named Chris Lindstrom to lead that group. We are very excited about Chris leading the group and he just started at the beginning of the month. He’s a very strong, talented, passionate leader with 20 years in powersports.
What is the strategy for the Offroad Group? Although they share common ownership, it seems some are trying to share the same swim lanes.
We created the Offroad Group to do the same as our Apparel Group and to capture similar benefits. And it’s also part of our Brand Group structure that reports directly to me. Leading brands in the segment are Renthal, QuadBoss, ProTaper, and DragonFire. It’s QuadBoss and DragonFire on the ATV-UTV side and MSR Hard Parts on the offroad/dirt side with Pro Taper and Renthal. So very strong, successful brands and again we’re trying to accelerate their growth and increase MAG’s participation in the Offroad market.
We are a much stronger Street player than we are an Offroad player. Creating this group and giving it a singular leader gives us the focus and attention to drive continued expansion into the offroad market. Chris’ task is to maintain the power and the prestige of each of the brands, but also capture the opportunities by collaborating across the businesses.
We need to sharpen each brand’s DNA and their targeted consumer base – their swim lanes – that’s the piece of the work that needs to be done. We like to say that we’re going to manage the brands together but separately. That’s a MAG advantage. We have strong brand focus plus the ability to leverage our scale and reach.
We recently read that you’ve merged J&P and Motorcycle Superstore. What are the plans there?
We have made a conscious decision to invest in J&P and to a lesser extent in Superstore. And that’s why you see Superstore being merged into J&P, and getting some of those cost synergies and savings…fundamentally to advance both Superstore and J&P equally doesn’t make as much sense to us. We want to differentiate the two because J&P has such a strong cult following and committed consumer base. We want to make sure that we are fully serving that business first and then we will bring Superstore along as well.
In the age of Amazon and e-commerce, how do you think brick and mortar dealers can best compete?
I’m sure Eric (Cagle) touched on this, but we are committed to the dealers, and I think brick and mortar dealerships are essential. They are the connection to the consumer. The service, support and the communities that they create are part of the experience that needs to delivered on our side. The good dealers recognize the trends going on in e-commerce and that it’s going to take some of their business. But these dealers are also uniquely positioned to deliver a consumer experience that e-commerce can’t. We’re working with dealers to help them build that experience.