Triumph Motorcycles in the Northwest

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Triumph Motorcycles

A Northwest look at a worldwide comeback

Bringing back a motorcycle brand from the dead is a risky proposition. Success of doing such is ‘just maybe’ at best. There’s a road of bones of those who have tried and failed including Indian, Excelsior-Henderson and countless other American and European companies. In 1995, after a 10 year hiatus, Triumph motorcycles reappeared in the US market with an all new lineup of both street and enduro machines.

In the ten years that has passed since that time Triumph has continued to build a Northwest presence with 10 dealerships spread across Washington, Oregon and Idaho today.

Photo: The boys of summer - Triumph demo truck driver, 'Jessie' along with Northwest regional Manager, Mark Pfenning will be on hand providing test rides all four days at the Sportbike Northwest Rally in Stevenson at the end of August 2006.

So it’s not surprising that both owners and enthusiasts were stunned when there was no Triumph display during the 2005 International Motorcycle Show at Qwest Exhibition Center in Seattle. Why no display and what was up with Triumph?

Number crunching has a way of creating new strategies and Triumph took a look at their return on investment of their participation in the motorcycle shows. A spokesperson for the company notes that there were no significant sales increases in each market for the 120 day period following each stop of the motorcycle show tour.

By staying out of the motorcycle show tour in 2005, Triumph took those monies and realigned them into putting their demo truck to better use. In 2006 the demo truck will make six appearances at Northwest dealers, race tracks and at the Sportbike Northwest and Sport Touring Northwest rallies in the Columbia River Gorge.

We recently visited a dealership holding a Triumph Demo Open House. All 16 bikes in the demo fleet were booked solid for both days. Of course the proof will be in the pudding when numbers are looked at over the following 120 day period.

As for the company in general, sales were up 34% in 2005 from their 2004 numbers. For the rolling 12 months from June of 2005 to May of 2006, Triumph is looking at record numbers for US sales.

The British manufacturer has played the market well bringing limited numbers of new bikes into the marketplace. Two years ago it was the Thruxton and the Rocket III, last year it was a restyled Sprint and in 2006 the 675 and Scrambler models are the one’s that are hard to find on showroom floors. Marketing this type of anticipation seems to keep the interest levels fueled for both buyers and dealers. In 2007 rumors abound of a restyled Tiger.

Photo:  The classic Scrambler marks a continued offering at vintage stylings in the Triumph lineup.

All major manufacturers have a local rep. Some are proactive in the marketing of their line, others do the work that needs to be done and call it a day. It’s rare you will ever meet one of these reps, but for Triumph they choose a seasoned local to begin reping their line in the Northwest in 2005. Mark Pfenning was brought in last May to inject his market prowess into the sales curve and it’s paid off for the company. Pfenning has previous experience in a number of dealerships here, as well as reping Avon Tyres for the US out of the Hoppe and Associates office in Edmonds, WA. He’s familiar with the players here, knows how to develop relationships for a brand and is one of those people who makes things happen.

In December Pfenning contacted the Sound RIDER! office about having the demo truck onsite during Sportbike Northwest and Sport Touring Northwest rallies in Stevenson in August. Over the years Sound RIDER! had contacted every major manufacturer about having involvement in previous rallies to no avail. Pfenning’s commitment to tying the Triumph line into the event led to AMA’s desire to have the rallies be sanctioned as their 2006 Northwest regional rally event.

The synergy of the three forces combined allow Triumph to profile their motorcycles in a way they want to, through direct test rides with potential customers; it allows AMA to reach out to a younger road audience which is key to their continued success and it provides Sound RIDER! a raised profile to continue to build on it’s week long rally each summer in the Gorge.

This type of micro-marketing will no doubt lead to a continued growth of the Triumph motorcycles line throughout the US as well as across the planet. And with any luck, perhaps we’ll see the automobile wing of the company come back to life again someday. ‘Just maybe.’

PT/Summer 06


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