My last diatribe covered industry players who are likely to experience positive effects from Yamaha’s exit from the snowmobile market. This time around I’ll postulate on who might be less than pleased with Yamaha’s decision.
Yup, we know – we picked Arctic Cat as a winner last time around. Seems Arctic Cat is in a unique position dealing with both fallout and benefit from the Yama-retreat. Inasmuch as there is solid evidence Cat will receive some benefit there is also one substantial hurt that only Arctic Cat will bear. What is it? The loss of multiple millions of dollars in sales of Arctic Cat-built Yamaha snowmobiles.
It’s pretty simple, building sleds has to be profitable for Arctic Cat on at least a couple fronts. First, there’s the economies of scale savings which Arctic enjoyed while building Yamaha’s sleds. This fact alone would make Arctic Cat’s cost to build its own sleds lower. Example: Instead of buying X number of shocks for just AC sleds Arctic Cat could order X-times-two shocks at a volume price.
Then there’s the money Arctic Cat made on every Yamaha it built. We don’t know that number but suffice it to say it was likely very tasty to the corporate bean counters.
In our first go around we indicated there are significant numbers of successful Yamaha snowmobile dealers using the auto dial feature on their phones to get someone to answer their calls to Ski Doo, Polaris and Arctic Cat. Yamaha has an enviable, high quality dealer network globally, and in the snow belts of North America a number of those quality dealers are going to be stuck without a snowmobile brand. Why? Because the hottest markets with the biggest and best Yamaha dealers are the same biggest and best markets for Ski Doo, Arctic Cat and Polaris.
Simply put, some of these well-run, big volume Yamaha dealers will not be able to get another OEM to sign them up because their market is already serviced by strong dealers from the other three OEMs. This is to say nothing about the closely guarded territorial boundaries dealer contracts often contain. To this issue I will say just one word, which I mentioned in Part I of this story: Lynx.
SNOWMOBILE MEDIA OUTLETS
Oh yeah, this hits close to home. Frankly the breadth and depth of the snowmobile business compared to powersports segments like ATVs, SxS or Marine products is small. That being said, the sno-mo-biz has generally been a stable place for the media to do business. Let’s be one hundred percent honest here. All snowmobile media outlets sharing – up until last month – OEM money for promotion and marketing, just got a significant cut as a result of Yamaha’s departure.
Truth is the snowmobile media depends on OEM advertising and promotion for its continued existence. You like reading this stuff – right? We like bringing it to you. For the record, this cut also applies to things like snowmobile consumer shows and snowmobile racing.
SNOWMOBILE CLUBS AND ASSOCIATIONS
Undoubtedly the lifeblood of recreational snowmobiling is the hundreds of state and provincial snowmobile associations and their member clubs who mandate and manage our amazing network of interconnected snowmobile trails. These volunteer-managed and membership-funded organizations depend on local snowmobile dealers (who depend on their brand’s OEM) to contribute to their efforts.
Everything from selling raffle tickets to winter festivals to map advertising and other promotional efforts, clubs depend on local dealers to help communicate with snowmobilers. In many jurisdictions dealers aid in both funding and promoting these events. Many state and provincial organizations count on branded dealers to help with the sale of trail permits. Snowmobile dealers have a much deeper role in the sport of snowmobiling than any other powersport activity. That includes Off-Road and ATVing, both on-road and off-road motorcycling and any kind of recreational watercraft activity. Losing these important Yamaha dealerships will increase the volunteers’ burden of providing the sport with groomed, signed and mapped trails.
For sure there’s more winners and losers to be identified as the industry navigates this arduous chapter in the history of recreational snowmobiling. As always, stay tuned.