MPN sat down with WPS CEO Craig Shoemaker at the WPS Sales Conference in January to discuss what’s new with the Boise-based company and their CEO.
MPN: If you were writing this article, what would you want powersports dealers to know about WPS?
CS: That’s a great question. One is that we’re a family operated company. This year, 2020, marks the beginning of our 60th year in business. We are third-generation owners. My wife and I are going on 20 years of being the owners. But we still believe that even though our company went from 90 employees when we brought it to 900 employees today — some things had to change — we always try to have a family atmosphere. We sell fun. We say, “We work hard, and we play hard.” It’s a cliché, but it’s true.
MPN: You talk about the “culture” of WPS a lot. What kinds of things have you done to cultivate that with your workforce?
CS: I like the environment in our offices and the warehouses. Not everyone is an industry person in the warehouse or the office, but many are enthusiasts. Some people are more focused, and I can appreciate that. But if people goof around a little bit or have some fun, they usually stick around for an extra 45 minutes to get the job done. We work hard, we play hard and we have a good time. I would like that passed on through our smiling faces to our customers and through our reps.
MPN: Speaking of reps, we’ve heard you like to talk to your sales team when you’re driving in the car? Do you still do that?
CS: When I’ve got some windshield time, I usually pick up the phone. And quite often, I’ll call some regional reps. There’s maybe 50% I’ve never called and 20% I may call more often because we have a relationship through the years.
MPN: When you’re out and you see someone wearing a FLY Racing jacket or something, what goes through your mind? Do you feel like approaching them?
CS: Normally, I don’t, but my wife will say something more often than I will. I’ll say, “Hey, nice shirt.” Or “nice jacket.” And then sometimes I’m wearing one, and they’ll go, “oh yeah, you too.” Nowadays, I see them anywhere, and it doesn’t matter what part of the country or what airport. It’s good. Some of our guys probably get more excited about it than me because, to me, that’s just part of it. It’s the next step. But it is also exciting.
MPN: In terms of your sponsorships with Supercross, how has that paid off for WPS?
CS:Well, it’s our second year, and it is going well. It’s like advertising. You don’t know definitively, but I know that it’s heightened the awareness of two things: FLY Racing and WPS. We don’t sell directly to consumers, but we have to sell the marketing to the retailers, so we pull through. That’s the job of the manufacturer to make it pull through to retail. So Supercross helps pull it through at the retail level for our dealers. The other thing that we did is we split the track signage with WPS. Many dealers around the country watch Supercross and the signage helps reinforce our image and place in the market. People are usually surprised when they visit how big we are.
MPN: Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share with dealers?
CS: Just that we’re here to serve the dealer. Our industry is going through change. Our world is going through change. Right now is a great time to be in the U.S., and being an American business is pretty good. It’s not great for everybody everywhere, but overall, it’s pretty good. We have to keep up with the changing times. And what may have worked a few years ago may not work today, but we’ll always try to keep up with the times.