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Moto International

Come on in, the Italian's fine

Selling motorcycles can be a tough business. Selling a small line like Moto Guzzi (goot-zee) can be an even tougher business, but for nearly a decade it's been a way of life for Dave Richardson and the staff at Moto International.

Richardson bases a lot of his business on the premise of being a big fish in a small pond. Just selling a line motorcycles and servicing them probably won't pay the bills, but Moto International has had a number of developments over the years that has put it on top of its game in other ways.

Beginning with a rocky business start, to finding their niche and ultimately landing a franchise for a second line - the getting-hotter-by-the-second Aprilia, Moto International is a unique story of struggle and success.

The Mail (Order) Is In

For starters, the standby of selling the same helmets and jackets that everyone else in town is carrying doesn't bode well for a small dealer when the big boy up the street can pound you all day on price. Rather than move to carrying boutique apparel, Richardson moved the business into heavy mail order mode. Today Moto International runs one of the hottest mail order parts houses in the US for Moto Guzzi. In addition to readily available parts, Richardson also buys up NOS parts (OEM parts no longer manufactured or available) during global treks he makes each year looking for rarities and cutting deals for current OEM inventory. As a result the fanatics know where to go for what they need: a nice chunk of business at Moto is done by mail and over the phone.

Guzziology

You become king of your domain when you continue to satiate your customers appetite over and over again. Richardson has taken his many years of working with Guzzi's and created an enthusiasts bible/handbook - Guzziology . The book is an excellent companion to a shop manual, and for those who can get a hold of one of those much of the work you need to do can be performed just using this book.  

Guzziology features nearly 800 pages of tips, tricks, philosophy, fact, grids, illustrations and then some about nearly every aspect of a Moto Guzzi.  It Discusses such things as the use of unleaded fuels, clutch arm variations, headlight bulb selection and much, MUCH more. The Guzzi owner is guaranteed to receive enough information to truly make them fall in love with their bike all over again by just knowing that much more about the machine.

Some of the advice crosses over to other brands of motorcycles as well, and even if you don't own a Guzzi, the tips and tricks concerning electrical and mechanical issues can likely be applied to your own motorcycle.

The Other Italian

A few years back Guzzi was looking for a shot in the arm and got it when a younger Italian upstart, Aprilia, came in and purchased a stake in the company. On the surface it seems like an odd pairing but for both companies and Moto International the deal couldn't be sweeter.  

Guzzi has made its reputation for durable road machines that are great for touring the highways. Aprilia on the other hand is quickly making a name for itself on the track. So by becoming partners there was little chance that the minute crossover in the lines would have much bearing on the growth potential created by the marriage of these two companies.  

For Moto International the same philosophy holds true. Now instead of just offering highway bikes, Richardson is able to appease the racing enthusiasts as well with a broad selection of track machines from Aprilia.  And it's starting to show as more Aprilia's are spotted around Puget Sound and the various Northwest tracks. 

Moto's story is one of growth by grass roots means. No fancy gimmicks, just good people, a little Guzzilla marketing and clever thinking keep this ship afloat.

TM/Summer 2001


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