When I first began riding dirt bikes I was nine years old. A friend’s dad shared the key traits necessary to be a good motorcycle rider – Calm, Quick Thinking, Instinctual, Patient and Humble. As I look back over my tenure in my role as president at MAG Retail Group (the division within MAG that runs J&P Cycles and Motorcycle Superstore) I have to say I used all of these in the daily pursuit of building a strong foundation for our customers and our business for years to come.
As I look back over the last 21 months, I can say that I am proud of what we have accomplished as a team at MAG Retail Group. When I arrived, everything was in a state of flux. It had been decided that J&P Cycles and Motorcycle Superstore would move their respective corporate offices from Anamosa, Iowa and Medford, Oregon to Dallas, Texas. No small undertaking, although nearly everyone was offered the chance to relocate, only 20% chose to do so. That meant basically building a new team around a core group of people moving to a new city. I arrived in late 2015 to a half full office and new people arriving almost daily. Having everyone together meant that all could focus on delivering a best-in-class customer experience across both lines of business. Never before have the teams been so blended and the focus on the customer been as strong as it is in this environment, delivering on what made J&P Cycles and Motorcycle Superstore the leading brands they are today: Being “customer first in all we do.”
At the same time, three warehouses were being consolidated to one facility in Louisville, Kentucky. The goal was to be able to receive orders, pick/pack/ship, and get items to customers in as few days as possible. Being centralized in Louisville, and just a short drive to the UPS hub there, meant that daily shipments would go out faster than ever. With that facility, new systems, processes and people had to be installed and the kinks worked out in order to effectively deliver on the commitment to customers. It took some time, but now the facility is running smooth again.
With changes in location and a re-commitment to customers came a need to change some team members. It is never easy to let people go or to have the “direct and honest” discussions about how a team member fits within the new direction of the business. However, we chose to face these things head on in a “solution-oriented” and “do it right the first time” approach. We treated our team members with respect and dignity and provided a means to bridge the loss of one position while finding the next one. I still keep in touch with many of our affected team members and help where I can or support them in their new roles as possible.
Through it all, I love how we “worked and played as a team”. We instituted something called our MAGnify meetings to share the transparent state of our business, updates on customer initiatives, and celebrations of team member accomplishments. Our potlucks, bike nights and other activities became the common ground to learn about one another and enjoy non-work time together. I have to say that our Moto 101 Day was a big highlight for me as I enjoyed seeing the non-riders learn the literal nuts and bolts of our business. Finally, seeing our Rider Experience (what we call the retail, rally, and rider service center areas) in person across our locations and at events showed me how much care and commitment our teams have for our customers.
Throughout this piece I have used terms like industry, company and business. Those are just words that describe the vessel in which we are privileged to support a unique and passionate lifestyle – motorcycles and motorcycle riding. It has been my honor and privilege to support this amazing team that supports our customers. While I have chosen to leave MAG Retail Group, I only do so because it is the right time to do so. This is a good thing for our division and for Zach Parham, who is stepping into a role he has truly earned as an industry veteran (I always love to say how he was born into this company!!) and a professional leader. I made the decision to step down from this role once it was clear all of our consolidation and turn-around efforts were coming to fruition. J&P Cycles is now breaking sales records and Motorcycle Superstore is the leader in online marketplaces where more and more customers are choosing to shop. When Zach’s dad (who started J&P Cycles back in 1979) passed away in April, it provided a very rare and unique opportunity to pass the legacy to a new generation at the same time things are going well for the business. I can truly say that after so much hard work over the last almost two years, I am excited for the future of MAG Retail Group. Staying and continuing was certainly an option. However, I saw the opportunity to create opportunity for the passionate team we have cultivated over the last few years. This group is the way of the future and I expect to see great things on the road ahead!! I look forward to seeing you out there.