OPE Dealer Mid-year Progress Report

Outdoor Power Equipment (OPE) magazine recently surveyed dealers on their expectations and results for the first half of 2014, as well as their outlooks for the second half of the year. Specifically, we asked them the following questions:


1. Heading into 2014, what were your expectations for your dealership this year?


2. How has your dealership fared in meeting those expectations in the first half of 2014?


3. Based on your dealership’s first-half performance, what second-half adjustments do you plan to make?


4. What is your second-half outlook for 2014?


OPE received the following responses June 5-12, 2014:


1. Expectations at the beginning of every new year are generally optimistic. In spite of the unusually cold winter, 2014 was no exception.


2. The winter weather did not break until very late this year, reducing our prime selling season for mowers down to just a few weeks. The weather also delayed other outside activities, like farming and construction, further depressing the market. In spite of disappointing mower sales, our other product lines have sold well, making this about an average year, so far.


3. We are going to pursue mower sales aggressively and hope that we continue to have rain throughout the summer. Our goal is to reduce our mower inventory to acceptable levels before the end of summer, while building inventories in other areas in anticipation of the fall and winter season.


4. I am optimistic about the second half of the year. Mowers seem to be the only product line that is not producing at their normal level, and after June 1, mowers contribute little to our bottom line anyway.
— Roger Zerkle, owner
Zerkle Diversified Enterprises, LLC
Flat Rock, Ill.


I am going to say my dealership’s situation is different from most OPE dealers. Located within a 7-mile circle of my store, I have 2 Lowes, 3 Home Depots, 3 Walmarts, 2 Sears stores and a Tractor Supply. I continue to move away from new OPE sales to focus more on rentals and OPE service.


2013 started strong, finished flat. I had no expectations of 2014 other than to look at ways to add more efficiency into our OPE service business. 


Winter 2014 started out strong for no other reason than a cold, snowy winter and an endless supply of snow thrower repairs. Ethanol damage continues to keep the shop filled with work.


As spring 2014 arrived, we started to see more activity in rentals. Homeowners seem to be starting outdoor projects at a higher rate than we have seen in years. Our May 2014 turned out to be one of our strongest in almost eight years.


In my area, I don’t see or expect any growth in OPE sales outside of the discount home centers. The independent dealers like me are aging with no younger owners willing or able to take a risk. However, there is a golden opportunity to expand into servicing equipment sold by the Home Centers if it is done correctly and efficiently.
— Rob Leiser
Leiser’s Rental & Sales
Easton, Pa.


I expected to have a great year, and boy, was I right. It has been hard for us to catch up in both sales and service. As far as the rest of the year goes, I don’t see any end in sight. My customers are also reporting big backlogs of work and are spending to update their fleets.
— Matthew Borden, vice president
Ed & Matt Equipment
Greenville, R.I.


1. We felt that Kioti equipment sales and Husqvarna/Exmark lawn mower sales would be strong, so we ordered aggressively. Our five-year plan includes aggressive year-after-year targets, increasing the number of tractors sold and market penetration where we doubled our market share last year. We have double-digit growth over previous years in all categories.


2. January through May 2014 versus 2013, we are experiencing a 46-percent increase in Kioti tractor sales, and our overall sales increase percent is 32 percent.


3. We want to update our website, increase our TV advertising plans to promote our new Tier IV products.


4. The second half of 2014 looks promising, and with the right conditions, we expect to continue building on the positive results, which have been realized in the first half of 2014, leading to record sales for our company.
— Gary Mize, president
The Tractor Place, Inc.
Knightdale, N.C.

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