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Viewpoint: Measuring Progress at the Mid-year Point

The July issue of Outdoor Power Equipment (OPE) magazine has typically featured our annual Mid-year Progress Report, during which dealers share what their hopes were going into the year, what their results have been thus far, and what their outlook is for the remainder of the year.

This year was no different from the standpoint that we sought to answer similar questions at the halfway point. However, this year definitely has had its challenges in terms of measuring progress.

We typically survey dealers during the month of May in order to have results in time for the July issue. However, with a late spring for most, our survey hit dealers right when business was starting to boom. As a result, our Mid-year Progress Report survey did not generate a big enough sample size in order to draw industrywide conclusions. However, I would like to recognize the feedback of those dealers who took the time and effort to share their insights regarding the year so far:

James Sommer, president of Service Motor Company, Dale, Wis., said that going into 2018 he expected his OPE business to be up 10 percent, and, although things were delayed because of late spring weather, his results so far have been in line with expectations. As a result, he does not plan to make any mid-year adjustments.

Nate Bensonof Stuart Lawn and Garden, Stuart, Fla., said he anticipated 20 percent growth in 2018 with a new location. And although a dry spring delayed sales and service by about 34 percent, he still expects a strong 2018.

“Weird weather has clumped [business] into a landslide,” said Raymond VanDervort, VanDervort Repair & Rebuild, Apalachin, N.Y. “We normally do 70 percent of annual [business] May-July. This year, is might end up 40 percent just in May. I hope it does not peter out, but…I expect it will be a very wet year even into early winter.”

VanDervort added that his outlook for the rest of 2018 is good, and that he is focused on his health.

“As many in this industry are aging, like myself…[I’m focused on] keeping my health and trying to keep up with the growing demand by customers.”

Richard Roper, owner of Ace Equipment Sales in Tyler, Texas, indicated that his business has been negatively impacted by this year’s weather. He said his region faced cold weather through April, and by the time the ground warmed up, “the rain was over and the best months were wasted.” He added that there is no rain in sight for the rest of year for his region, so business will depend on weather, as usual.

Norman Knepp, owner, Knepp’s Power Equipment, McArthur, Ohio, said his expectations coming into 2018 were pretty high.

“We have expanded quite a bit for 2018, moved to a different location, and also took on Spartan mowers,” said Knepp. He added that business so far has exceeded his high expectations by quite a bit.

In terms of mid-year adjustments, Knepp said that he is starting to sell feed (cattle, horse, dog, etc.) in hopes that it will make the business more consistent through the winter.

Knepp added that he is excited about the remainder of 2018, and is looking to continue to expand.

Trey Waldrop, Southern PowerWorks, DeFuniak Springs, Fla., came into 2018 expecting 10 to 15 percent sales growth, and has fared well so far.

“After a strong start, it’s important to finish strong in order to reach our goals,” Waldrop said. “Now that the weather is cooperating with some rain, I think we will enjoy a good season.”

 

Thanks again to those who responded. Those who weren’t able to respond in time for the mid-year progress report are still welcome to share their thoughts about business so far in 2018 by e-mailing me at jkmitta@epgmediallc.com.

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