20 Questions: On The Trail To Successful Sales

Matt Waite of Waite Motorsports speaks during an interview inside the store located in Adams Center.

Matt Waite grew up enjoying recreational motorsports with his great grandfather, grandfather and father. This passion for the sport has led him to managing Waite Motorsports in Adams Center and he says he continues to learn and grow with the company with the support of the north country outdoor enthusiasts. 

NNYB: When did the Waite family open Waite Motorsports and why? 

WAITE: Waite Motorsports opened up in 2000. We actually picked up the Polaris franchise in 1994, though. We were out at our Toyota store and Waite Motorsports needed to happen because the business was growing so much and we needed a better location. We ran out of room up at the Toyota store and we moved down here to catch business from I-81 going to Tug Hill.   

NNYB: What products and services does Waite Motorsports provide to its customers? 

WAITE: Products that we carry are the full Polaris line – ATV’s, snowmobiles, side-by-sides, Indian Motorcycles, Polaris Slingshot, Grasshopper lawnmowers – we do it all parts: service and sales.  

NNYB: Is the service industry part of the business busier than the actual sales part of the business?  

WAITE: That changes a lot. Sales will be busier than service, and sometimes service will be better than sales. You have to have service for the sales, though.  

NNYB: Is there a brand of ATV, snowmobile or motorcycle that sells better than the other?  

WAITE: It always used to be the ATV’s; ATV’s were always the number one seller. Polaris now categorizes it as off-road versus on-road, so we sell more of the off-road vehicles than the on-road vehicles.  So we sell quite a few more off-road then on-road, but probably the most popular right now are the side-by-side vehicles; they are really starting to take over.   

NNYB: Do you find you sell more motorcycles or is the ATV market better?  

WAITE: Motorcycle sales have grown steadily since we picked up Indian in 2015. I would say that we have more than doubled our sales since picking up the Indian brand, as opposed to just having the Victory brand. Polaris no longer carries the Victory brand motorcycles (they stopped making them in 2017).   

NNYB: Do you have a target market and who would that be? 

WAITE: There really is no huge target market for Polaris. For the sport you can catch anyone; they make models for young kids all the way up to your older generations.  

NNYB: Do weather changes impact sales?   

WAITE: Yes, especially with the snow side. You know, we have a very small window to sell snowmobiles. We do a pre-season sale which just ended; we try and sell as much as we can during that time. And then we have from September to January first, and let’s face it, you don’t know if it is going to snow or not. Same with the rain with the motorcycles; you know if it is a cold wet spring.  

NNYB: What is your biggest time of year for sales? Is there a way to gauge that?   

WAITE: Right now actually – March, April – we make a big push for the off-road stuff. They do very good programs right now for the consumer. Same with on-road vehicles; Polaris does a thing called factory authorized clearance where they unveil the products for the year.   

NNYB: How long have you personally been involved in the automotive/motorsports industry?  

WAITE: I’ve been here since we opened. When I was in high school I started setting the machines up and have been here ever since.  

NNYB: What differentiates Waite Motorsports from others like it? 

WAITE: We are a smaller business, family owned and operated. We try to go above and beyond to have customers continuing to return to us and happy. I know everyone says that, but I try to be here every day and we truly try to treat everyone fairly and take care of their needs.   

NNYB: Why do you think that motorsports are so popular in the north country?   

WAITE: The Tug Hill Plateau; it’s a beautiful area to ride, it gets the perfect lake effect snow. It’s a destination, we get people from New Jersey and Pennsylvania that come up for the winter or for the weekend.  

NNYB: How has the motorsports industry changed since your start in the business.   

WAITE: Technology change has been drastic. I mean, I remember back in 2000 – I mean we sold a lot of them back then – but they have come out with so much technology. We have side-by-sides with GPS location built in, backup cameras, you know all the stuff. And it makes it tough because as technology changes our staff and technicians’ knowledge has to change along with it.  It is tough, but it’s very exciting stuff. The most amazing part is that they can still sell a four-wheeler for a similar price as they did then back in 2000.   

NNYB: What are some challenges that the industry has faced?  

WAITE: Weather, getting finance; the power sports is not a necessity, so lenders are not as lenient as they are for a car which you need every day. Some are the cost of a car; we have a side-by-side with heat, air conditioning, full enclosure and that’s at an upward cost of $30,000.   

NNYB: How is Waite Motorsports active in the north country communities?  

WAITE: We sponsor events; we have done a few charity events last year. We would like to do more this year. We do a majority of that through the Toyota store, but we would like to do more out of here this year to help our communities and businesses.  

NNYB: How many people do you employ now?  

WAITE: We have eight people right now.   

NNYB: Who is involved with the business, meaning family?  

WAITE: We all are. My two brothers are at the Toyota store, my father floats between the two stores. You know if we get short staffed and have to go to somewhere, one of my brothers will come down here and help out.  

NNYB: Was this your first career path? Was this what you always wanted to do for work? 

WAITE: So, growing up we didn’t have this when I was super young, but I was always going with my grandfather and my great-grandfather, my dad, on dealer trades and stuff like that. I always wanted to be in the automotive business because that’s what my family was involved in back then.   

NNYB: Where do you see the future of motorsports, specifically Waite Motorsports in the industry in the north country? 

WAITE: I see the sport hopefully continuing to grow. New York state isn’t making that very easy; the side-by-sides can’t even be registered and people are still riding and just hoping not to get pulled over.  

NNYB: What are some of those regulations?  

WAITE: So, New York state has a law that was set back in the 1970’s that an ATV has to be under 1,000 pounds and a lot of the smaller machines are pushing 700 pounds, so it makes it hard. New York is one of the only states that has that such light weight limit. People still buy them; they don’t care it seems. If they are not goofing around usually law enforcement will leave them alone, but it is a lot of lost revenue for New York state.    

~Interview conducted by Holly Boname. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.