It’s common that people become attached to place that they grew up in, or lived for extended periods. What isn’t always common is to make it your mission to open up your own business in that community, securely cementing yourself and family within the fabric of its society.
But that’s exactly what happened when Robert Gott decided he would open Gott Powersports in Quincy, California. Opened in June, the shop located in the Plumas National Forest offers Honda and Stihl outdoor power equipment as well as Polaris powersports vehicles. EPG Media reporter Nick Longworth checked with the new operation to see what life is a like as a new dealership owner.
“The Gott family are longtime locals of the Plumas County area. We’re a small town — population size is about 5,000 people. Longtime locals really mean something around here,” said Breanne Olsen, operations manager for Gott Powersports.
Beginning in March of 2019, the purchase was admittedly a “long and exhausting process” — the exact words from a Facebook post making the official announcement.
“We originally were eyeing the Reno region, but because Polaris already had a dealership there they wouldn’t allow it,” said Olsen, also noting funding and insurance and underwriting issues were among the challenges during the transition.
“Robert came in and made an offer with an investor… But it was one thing after another, and then the COVID stuff came as well. Every time we would see the light at the end of the tunnel, something else would pop-up. Months rolled by, and then COVID happened. We weren’t sure when it would finally happen.”
But with all their ducks in a row, and former outdoor power equipment dealership owner Duff DuPont finally ready to sell DuPont Power Tools, Gott was ready and waiting. No stranger to the business, he also currently owns UTV Addiction, a UTV rental and parts operation in Reno, Nevada.
“I equate buying the dealership to buying a home times 10 — every ‘T’ has to be crossed and every ‘I’ dotted. Everything has to be perfect. Financial planning is crucial,” said Gott. “Had we known ahead of time what we were getting into, we probably could have planned a little better.”
“Acquiring the building itself from Duff was one of the easiest parts,” said Olsen.
Before undertaking such a transition, Olsen advises an owner to enlist the help of a third-party operations manager such as herself to oversee details that otherwise might be overlooked.
“Becoming a dealer is no joke — it’s a whole different animal in itself. Who’s going to work with the bank, the title company, getting the accountants ready? There are a lot of ties into it that makes it complicated. Having one point of contact helps,” said Olsen. “As it comes you have to get it done, otherwise it gets shoved onto the backburner and not taken care of properly.”
Gott backed the invaluable aspect of her position, saying, “She really has her finger on the pulse of this place. She knows things that I could not possibly learn at this point in time. She’s been essential to our success.”
The long wait has since been worth it. In the first four weeks of new ownership, the shop sold nearly 40 units — estimated to be double the average for the time of season.
Heading into the future with frustrations hopefully behind them, Gott Powersports hopes to grow within its new location.
“We plan on a 30 percent increase in sales within the next 18 months — how COVID effects it, I don’t know,” Gott said. “We’re on track to do five times more side-by-side sales than last year. That being said, the supply chain being interrupted is really causing some issues. I could have already easily hit the 30 percent, had the supply chain been open for me to receive product.”
Just like they are at every dealership, inventory concerns after a thriving start to sales in 2020 has him wondering what’s next.
“We’re heading into the summer months with almost zero quantity on hand an unknown delivery dates for new units. That makes it very hard to reach goals. It’s not unattainable, but it is a hurdle going forward… In five years we want to be five times our annual sales. It’s aggressive but attainable.”
Looking longterm, Gott looks to remain in the industry, and in his community, for many generations more.
“We really don’t know what the future holds, other than we want to make sure we’re on the forefront of said future,” said Gott. “My partner has a 10-12 year plan to be bought out in that time, but I have no plan to exit [the business] at this point in time.”