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Rec vehicle dealers face challenges

A Five Star Motorsports sales associate parks a Suzuki Burgman scooter in the showroom in the Duncansville store. Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski

Getting inventory is proving to be a bigger challenge for recreational vehicle dealers than the rising gas prices.

“Last year the supply chain was bad, and we thought it would get better this year. Two years ago, it was not bad. Last year we were hurting, but it is actually worse this year,” Buck Leister, sales manager at Five Star Powersports, Duncansville, said.

The business normally has between 1,000 to 1,500 units per month but now only has about 400 units in stock.

Alpha Powersports and Specialized vehicles, Duncansville, is seeing the same thing.

“Overall sales are up, but inventory is terrible. We can’t get anything in; it’s been that way since the start of the pandemic,” owner Sean Moran said.

Duane Thomas, sales representative at Shy Beaver Boat Center, James Creek, agrees it has been a struggle with inventory.

“We are having trouble getting outboard engines. … We don’t have our full inventory now. Our fiberglass boats have not arrived for this year yet. They will be ones for sale,” Thomas said.

While the National Marine Manufacturers Association said boat sales are feeling the effects of rising gas prices, local boat dealers say they haven’t been hurt yet.

Ellen Hopkins, director of marketing communications for NMMA, said nationally sales are down through May about 15% to 16% compared with May 2007.

This follows two years of historic growth spurred by COVID-19.

“Sales have been going pretty strong; pre-orders have been strong. Gas hasn’t had an impact on sales yet. We will see in mid-summer,” said Duane Thomas, sales representative at Shy Beaver Boat Center, James Creek. “I would say sales are on the upper side of normal.”

Joe Zanylo, sales manager at Jim’s Anchorage, Hesston, said people still want their recreational time. His sales have been pretty level so far this year. “The last two years boat sales were phenomenal; the best I have ever seen. It has slowed down because manufacturers can’t deliver products to dealers. Inventory is lower than usual, a lot of what we have in were pre-ordered from last year,” Zanylo said.

Like most everything else, prices for boats are up.

Normally prices go up 4% to 6% a year, but last year there was an 18% to 22% increase. Shipping costs are getting astronomical, Zanylo said.

“Most manufacturers prices are up 10-15 percent from 2022, we are now ordering for 2023.

Our used boat supply is up, those prices are up,” Thomas said.

Meanwhile sales of motorcycles, ATVs and similar recreational vehicles have been up.

According to Statistical Surveys Inc., the leading provider of market data solutions for the marine, manufactured housing, RV-motorized, RV-towable and trailer industries, a total of 2,752,588 new and used motorcycles and ATVs were sold in 2021, an increase of 380,349 over 2019.

“We have seen a lot of people buying smaller street bikes, the smaller cc scooters that are good on gas. Sales have picked up but they are hard to get,” Five Star’s Leister said.

Debbra Heath, marketing director for Roundhouse Powersports and Roundhouse Harley Davidson, Duncansville, said, “I don’t know if there is a normal any more, but sales have been pretty steady.”

Heath said it is difficult to get in Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

“The plant in York was closed for two weeks. They have cut back on their allotments. They want to work with pre-ordering. … When they get here, they are usually spoken for.”

With a good selection of pre-owned, Roundhouse sales are doing very well, “probably higher for the first quarter than last year,” Heath said.

Getting inventory remains the biggest issue.

“Side by sides are very popular but are very tough to get in. The ones that are coming in are sold. Most everything is preordered,” Moran said.

If customers see something they want, dealers say not to dally.

“If you are interested in it and you want it, if you wait nine or 10 days it will not be here,” Heath said.

Leister suggests pre-ordering. “If you have your mind made up, make a deposit on it. Today lots of things are special ordered. If you want it, pay a deposit and we will get it,” Leister said.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 814-946-7467.

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