Tue Apr 25 2006
triaqua at charter.net
Benelli in USA
Update on the status of Benelli in the USA. The AMA Superbike races were held at the beautiful Barber Motorsports Racetrack and Museum grounds in Birmingham, Alabama this past weekend. One of the vendor boothes was Benelli. Or more accurately stated, Moto Point, Inc. of Stahlstown, PA manned by Joseph DiStefano. His company specializes in Benelli upgrades. He is currently putting together a network of USA dealers to sell and service the Benelli line. Present were two of his partners and two current Benelli models, the Cafe Racer and the TNT Tornado. They created a lot of excitement at the race. Hopefully Joseph can make this happen for us Benelli fans. He can be reached at 724.593.6208, fax 724.593.6216, cell 412.298.6734. Web is www.motopoint.com
A statement was made in a recent post ( on the Moto-Guzzi Mailing List ) to the effect that the worst thing a mfg. can do is to fail to meet demand. I had personal experience with that very concept.
In the early '70s I was a road rep. for a sub distributor of Benelli motorcycles. My employer had bought the rights to distribute the bikes in the Mid Atlantic states from Cosmopolitan Motors, the North American importer. The previous rep. had gone on a binge, crashed & abandoned his company car, and dropped out of sight for 2 weeks. I was hired & walked in to find a warehouse full of minibikes with a few 650 twins, 250 4stroke singles, 250 2stroke twins, & smaller "enduro" types thrown in.
There was a whole generation of baby-boomers coming of bike buying age, and there was an Arab oil embargo that limited gas supply & pushed up the price. ANYTHING with 2 wheels, (presumed to give good gas mileage), would sell. I was opening dealers left&right. Around 10K bought you a slew of minibikes, 6 "big" bikes, a parts package, & a big lighted sign. My "big" bikes were quickly gone, I was told to keep opening dealers with minibike packages and the promise of new 4 cylinder & 6 cylinder bikes to come. A lone 6 cyl was sent from Italy & shown all over the country, I rode it in a parking lot at Daytona, it WAS impressive! Talk about demand!!! The phone rang off the hook.
But then the weeks went by, all the sub distributors were screaming at Cosmo for bikes. Cosmo kept talking about "delays at the factory". The best they could do was "find" a load of 650s that had been destined for South America, when I got my 8, I went to the warehouse, opened each crate & installed DOT legal lights & reflectors myself, just to have a real motorcycle to ship to my dealers.
The sub distributors got so frustrated (and doubtful of Cosmo) that a meeting was called. I flew to Houston to represent my employer, a vote was taken and money put up to send our own person to the factory to find out the facts. When he returned, what he had to say blew us away. They were on STRIKE!!! Nothing was being produced. The workers were just sitting in the sun outside the factory. It was pitiful, the greatest demand the world had ever seen, a chance to really penetrate the American market, and they blew it squabbling over a few lira.
Meanwhile, most of the dealers I had opened were ordinary folks who had scraped their bucks together to open a little shop & be self-employed. I sat across kitchen tables of more than a few & listened to their dreams for their new business. I could see what was going to happen, & it sickened me. I wrote them all a letter, giving as much of a warning as I could get by my employer, & resigned.
Benelli is history now, & Guzzi soldiers on, there are a lot more early 70s Ambos & Eldos than any Benellis to be found, so Guzzi must have done a little better job back then. I personally support anything Guzzi has to do to fill the existing demand, and create new demand, while maintaining the special Guzzi mystique.
Ron Komoroski, MGNOC Rep. for Va. Ron.G.Komoroski at mcdermott dot com
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