Q&A with Tucker Rocky President Eric Cagle

In less than a year since being hired to guide Tucker Rocky into its next 50 years, company president Eric Cagle is doing just that.

Having spent 25 years at Caterpillar Logistics managing OEM and aftermarket parts businesses, Cagle brings a wealth of understanding on how to make course corrections for the corporate ship.

We spoke with Cagle recently to ask him if any of the rumors were true: Is Tucker Rocky getting ready for a sale to new owners or needing to fill an investor cash call?

Cagle: There are no plans to fundamentally change the organization. We’ve got long-term debt. It doesn’t come due for several more years. We’ve got the same interest payments that we’ve had since we originally took out that debt. So, I’m not quite sure where the cash concern or questions come from.

We’ve rightsized to the realities of the marketplace, but those are decisions that were made to adjust the business to the market, not in response to some cash crunch. As a matter of fact, we’re investing millions of dollars in the business today in things like TRDealer 2.0, which is our new web portal for our customers.

We’re bringing in some technical expertise in a variety of fields to help us be more efficient going forward. These are seven figure investments. We made them in 2015, we made them in 2016, and we continue to make them in 2017.

With many retail outlets struggling today, do you think the two-step distribution model is outdated in the age of Amazon?

Cagle: I don’t see the dealers or the OEM franchises going away. You still can’t test drive a motorcycle on the internet, and a lot of the accessories and components that we sell require a physical location for someone to get comfortable with the products.

That isn’t going to change. At the same time, we’re making significant investments to support both our brick and mortar dealers and our e-commerce partners who have a vested interest in powersports, to serve that e-commerce retail customer. We’re supporting our brick and mortar customers with a direct ship program.

If they sell either in the store or through their own e-commerce sites, we can direct ship on their behalf to their customers. We’re doing a lot to support our brick and mortar dealers with digital content, etc. This isn’t, as I view it, an Amazon or brick and mortar issue. Our challenge is, how do we support the brick and mortar dealers to engage their customers both physically and when they shop online.

We’ve got some really successful dealers out there that are building rather substantial e-commerce practices, and we’re going to continue to develop new ways to support them.

With the recent consolidation of warehouses and layoffs, what can you say to your dealers to allay their concern?

Cagle: We’re investing in inventory. We’re investing in our systems. We’re investing in new people. I don’t know how else to combat those rumors than to point to our actions … We were not able to stock even half of the products we needed to serve our customers out of those facilities.

Our other facilities average 210,000 sq. ft., and the facilities we closed were 60,000 and 70,000 sq. ft. When you look at that, we were telling customers that they would have one- to two-day service from those facilities, and that was indeed true.

However, we weren’t able to provide that service on enough of the part numbers for those customers to feel our service was reliable. So, when we looked at it, we felt we would be more reliable serving folks from the larger facilities that have deeper inventory.

Will you produce some sort of content channel for your dealers?

Cagle: We do that today. It’s not a streaming channel per se, but we provide content for new product introduction, product comparisons, orientation to new product, and then marketing and advertising data for our customers to use.

The RevZilla model, that’s more of a retail model, and we will support our brick and mortar dealers and e-commerce customers with some content, but exactly how they configure their retail engagement will be up to them… Certainly, there’s no intention for Tucker Rocky to compete with our customers.

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