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December 31, 2008

Predictions and Blogging

Well here we are, News Years eve and snow is again falling across most of the country. I’d like to say I’m heading out for a snowmobile adventure tonight but it ain’t gonna happen. We’re hooking up with some good friends at a local ski hill for family tubing on some pretty cool, fast runs. The kids will have a blast and truth be known, the tubing thing is pretty fun for dad as well.img_2567.JPG

Looking back 2008 has been a pretty good year for snowmobile junkies with the introduction of new iron from all four builders. In fact we have been on quite a roll, as an industry, for the past  several seasons. But I seriously wonder how much longer we can maintain this annual new product cycle.

Looking towards 2009 and the global economic slowdown, it is clear our industry will not come away unscathed. I have no idea how each snowmobile company will differ with regards to ‘tightening the belt’ and it will be very interesting to watch things begin to unfold starting on Monday, the first business day of the new year, and for some,  the first day of a new fiscal year (and budget).

I think we will witness some frustrating price increases throughout the entire motorsports industry including the after-market suppliers as companies play their cards, adjusting to currency fluctuations, soft markets and generally declining sales.

I also predict some of the planned new products which I assume our competition have in the wings (as well as Yamaha), may be delayed pending on the sell-through of current inventories and the internal efficiencies of the respective manufacturing and engineering groups. There will be a bit of a shell game going on as the marketing guys dig into the parts bins to create sizzle for the 2010 model line

I predict sled parts sales will be on the increase (based on last years snowfall and optimistically more of the same) as many riders will chose to maintain their current equipment in lieu of springing for a new sled.

I predict there will be restructuring announcements forthcoming from all the companies as manpower will be reassessed and assigned the difficult task of making more from less in a challenging economy. As my mentor used to jokingly say: ‘the best way to manage change is to change management…’ By the way, I must mention that my old friend and current boss, Peter Smallman-Tew was just promoted to the position of Vice President at YMCA… well earned and well deserved!

Finally I predict the snowmobile community as a whole will continue to thrive where many other non-essential activities will rust. Why? Because there is no other group I can think of that demonstrate more passion and commitment to their chosen sport than snowmobilers. Once bitten by the winter bug it is really hard to imagine remaining locked down in front of the tube for several months while mother nature (along with an amazing group of volunteers) create a spectacular playground all across the snow-belt.

I am also thinking I have to reassess what I’m doing on line here with SledTalk in 2009. My new duties at Yamaha are demanding more time and attention than ever before and I am finding it difficult and somewhat distracting to maintain the blog as I have in the past. I still strongly believe in the importance of large corporations such as Yamaha to break down some of the traditional walls and communicate with people directly by engaging in the many new on-line mediums available to us.

Maybe we need to have a company Facebook account or perhaps we jump on the latest wireless craze.

Does my little blog really make a difference? Probably not, but it does stand for something much bigger. It represents one companies recognition and desire to ‘connect’ with customers on-line on a much more personal level than can be done through traditional, top down, marketing methods I have yet to see this reflected by any of our competitors. For me that’s an important fact and a very good reason to keep this thing going… now more than ever. I just need to find a way.

In closing off this last post for 2008, I want to thank you for reading Sled Talk and wish all the best to you and yours for 2009.

Ride safe.

cheers cr

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Posted @ 7:24 pm in Opinions and Insights   

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13 Responses to “Predictions and Blogging”

  1. zak says:

    Well I for one hope you continue posting or at least, if you choose not to, someone inside yamaha sets up a different avenue of communication. It is very refreshing to read a yamaha insiders opinions, especially in this day and age. I wish there were more people like you inside yamaha. Thanks again!

  2. Darren says:

    Don’t cut the BLOG, its the best thing that a big corperation has done for puplic relations, It’s my first and only RRS Feed and I look foward to reading it.

    Also, I’ve desided not to participate in this recession, so bring on the new product cause the buyers are out there and there just tired of hearing from this negative media….heck we just put a deposit on a new Bennington with ofcourse a 4 stroke Yamaha Outboard…

  3. Ron says:

    CR: You rock just like TY.

  4. Bob Hogg says:

    Quote: Does my little blog really make a difference? End Quote

    Yes it does. Good job.

  5. Alain Vmax says:

    Hello Chris,

    It is very sad that you have to get to a point of thinking to leave the Blog, you create this blog with a very high quality contents wicht is very interesting and with a lot of good informations.

    If you cannot, well it was very very appreciate what you have give us readers

    Hope you stay on board….

    Alain Vmax

  6. billey100 says:

    CR don’t sell your self short. I hope I speak for everyone over at TY that the blog has made a big difference in the communication between the company and the rider! Hope to see more in 2009!

  7. Chris says:

    This Blog (you) have closed that gap between “The Big Corp” and the your customer. Although the majority that read this don’t comment. I just had a read through the past 12 month’s previous blog comments, nothing but heart felt positivity.
    It’s hard to buy that kind of sincere brand response.

    Thanks CH, your check is in the mail!! 😉 cr

  8. Mark says:

    I really look forward to reading ALL your Blogs. I realize that there are only so may hours in a day, but please keep the Blog going for us SLED HEADS.

    Happy New Year!

    Looking forward to your hearing from you in 2009.


  9. scott says:

    I’ll be disappointed if they cut the blog but it seems like you’ve had to change it a bit since its inception.

    The other day I was told that I should not be surprised to see a top of the line, 2010 sled cost $15,000. I said “No way! Who is going to spend that kind of money on a sled?” Well, I started looking at ’09 sled prices and realize that $15,000 US was not out of line. As a racer, I’ve had blinders on to what the MSRP is on consumer sleds. No freaking wonder why the OEM’s sell fewer and fewer sleds every year! It’s a vicious cycle. If you sell fewer sleds, then you’re forced to ask more money for each one to make up the difference. Next year you’ll sell even fewer sleds and need to charge even more to make up the difference.

    I’ve been wondering when we were going to return to the 80’s since the overall sled sales are close to what they were in the early 90’s (which is the most current data available to me for free). I don’t look back on the 80’s as a bad time for sleds. Existing designs came back year after year with minor improvements and refinements. Back then, you could keep updating your sled and it didn’t become obsolete so quickly. Seemed like the OEM’s didn’t have the issues and recalls that they presently have. I see that as a good thing and prices should stabilize.

  10. Yellowknife says:

    I was instantly jared when you spoke of your time limitations to contribute to the blog.

    I really hope you find a way to keep it. I cling to this thing, it’s been a great idea from the start and i’ll take any of it that I can get, even if you don’t have as much time as before.

    Here’s to the future of what i feel has become ‘our’ blog. All of us feel a part of it.

  11. snoguzzler says:

    I want to reinterate what everyone else has said. Please don’t give up on the blog. It’s my favorite read. It’s very informative and entertaining all wrapped up in one. Keep up the good Work and Happy New Year!!!

  12. Stephen Burdick says:

    YOUR BLOG MATTERS!!!!! Enough Said, it is one of my favorite reads of the day!!!!

  13. Yamaha Dirt Bikes says:

    Ya its true, your blog really matter.Its good to know more realistic things like this.Pl my be there and manage any how.
    Happy New Year to You Too.

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