Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What is happening with SYM?

I get this question almost on a weekly basis.

Both days at Dealer Expo someone asked in class what was the deal? Even Josh was at a loss.

I honestly don't know. I tell dealers to call Carter and to call Canada for parts ( even if you pay full retail. )

Lance sent out an email, but I never got anything official.

I do know Carter sales reps are meeting with Lance about representing them. I know they liquidated all the ZNEN product they had and are focusing on SYM suppliers and on SYM which is great since it's a better designed product line. Sucks for you if you purchased ZNEN bikes that are no longer supported. The agreement supposedly runs out in April with Carter, but you really need to talk to your sales rep about that. They still have units in California and they are selling. There is a good chance they might fix this and come out bigger and better. Dealers will just have to wait and call Canada for parts in the meantime.

My feelings on the SYM factory is that they are a shaddy bunch of guys and the paper you sign with them is worth just that, paper. So part of me feels for Carter and part of me is like I knew it would happen.

I was after all the original importer so I have never shied away from telling it like it is on them. Great product, but they have a lack of vision and leadership when it comes to export markets. Anyone with vision would do it the way STR did it with Kymco. Look you want a bigger slice of the market, don't sell to other people, buy into us. Let's do a joint venture and give us some supply side financing. Most Asian brands want to rely on an importers capital and fail to give the support needed for a complicated market like Italy or the USA.

I've seen many brands fail in Italy and the USA in the motorcycle field and it's because of a lack of factory investment in the field. You have to care about every aspect of the game including warranties and I can honestly say it was not all Carters fault. It's easy to blame an importer for warranties and lack of parts, but sometimes it's the factory. When I was asked what they could do to improve the brand I suggested talking to Peirspeed or Genuine. Both have flatly denied any involvement with them.

I actually exhibited next to Peirspeed at the Dealer Expo this year and all the rumors are great, but they are just that rumors. I have a great relationship with Peirspeed and their suppliers TGB/FYM and I've seen the ups and downs of that side of the business. I was in the same boat with SYM myself six years ago. We have a few SYM parts here, not many. Mostly engine parts and DD50/RS50 and Jet Euro 50cc engine parts which were the units I imported into the USA. The biggest parts like racing parts we also stock a few. For plastics and panels you need to call Canada.

I think SYM makes a great product, but they have let down a lot of people. Many dealers are now paying the price because of the lack of parts, warranty, and money owed to them. The good news for Carter has been many of the dealers closed so they didn't have to deal with all the headaches, but now that the season is starting it will be a problem. The dealers that now need parts will start calling, the lemon lawsuits will start up etc... and dealers will pay this out of pocket. One great dealer is Moxie Scooters in Texas and he can't buy more Kymcos or Genuines because he's stuck with so many SYMs on his line. He needs to get rid of those first and it's impossible. So I understand the dealer situation as well.

Carter has a trademark that is worth money because of their long history. To anyone in the Karting business they were the standard. I hope they make it back the new karts looked great. I hope they come back and make them in the USA this time. I hope SYM wakes up and either puts its full foot in or gets out. You can't have multiple distributors in the USA. Don't they learn anything? Every company in this field from United Motors / Hyosung / Alpha Sports, to the Chinese that have multiple importers fails tragically. It's like their wings melt without even coming close to the sun.

How can you compete with the same product at different prices? Having one east and one west coast distributor is a stupid idea.

I'm sorry it's beyond stupid.

It's like Starbucks putting two locations across the street from each other, every time I saw that in 2007 I would say wow this is doomed to fail. Blockbuster video did the same thing in Miami, guess where they are now? Over saturation, add too many spices to the soup and it tastes like crap.

Same applies to all the parts companies.

Dear Sirs, you are stupid if you think this plan works. It might work in Taipei, Shanghai, or Malawi, but it won't work in the USA. Selling to dealers direct, consumers direct, double crossing distributors, lying, having multiple importers with different pricing with the same product and brand will NEVER work. All you do is cannibalize the market instead of building a brand. Your sales do not actually go up and nobody can provide proper warranty or marketing. These ideas might work for little people with no assets working from their garage at home or in a basement somewhere. They might appeal to some factory owner in the backwaters of somewhere, but it will never work.

It will fail everytime. The SYM idea of multiple distributors is doomed to failure in every aspect.

Either keep one distributor or leave the market. I hope SYM comes back as the market comes back, but there are lessons in all this. I hope someone learns from them because I get the emails and the complaints from the consumers and they think we have some magical solution for them. All we do is fill them with anger when I tell them we don't have and we don't know who has the part for them. Blame Canada.


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