Lance/SYM deal confirmed

After last month’s rumors, we’ve received a copy of an email Lance Powersports is apparently distributing to dealers announcing they’re SYM’s new distributor in the western United States. It’s unclear if eastern states will continue with Carter Brothers or move to a new distributor, but either way, Lance clearly isn’t making any efforts to be Carter’s BFFs…

You will see a renewed passion for this wonderful line of scooters, supported with wonderful customer service including parts support, tech support, and an attention to detail that we believe was missing from the previous distributor, Carter Bros.

The memo promises Lance will stock “a limited amount of scooters/parts” “very early in 2011” and will build up their inventory going into the spring and summer.

Piaggio/Vespa and other distributors have tried regional distributors in the past with mixed results. If memory serves, Derbi and Kinetic had regional U.S. importers as late as the early 2000s. A regional approach seems a bit anachronistic and overcomplicated today, but we look forward to seeing what Lance can do to get SYM back on track in the U.S.

11 thoughts on “Lance/SYM deal confirmed”

  1. Within minutes of publishing this story, I learned Carter is officially out of the picture. I’d tell you who the new eastern distributor will be but I’ve promised never to write about them.

  2. Seriously! SYM riders are holding their breath waiting for more news on this issue! What constitutes west vs eastern US? Who is the Western distributor?

  3. “What constitutes west vs eastern US?”

    I’m sure they have a clear border in mind, probably the Rockies or the Mississippi, but it still just seems overcomplicated, especially considering the range of brands already sold by the rumored Eastern distributor under one name (which already includes a three-letter acronym from Taiwan) and the fact that both of those companies already run national operations.

  4. In September I purchased a SYM Citycom 300i and have only one minor warranty issue (small piece of tupperware) that was quickly solved by SYM Canada so I can’t comment on Carter Bros. I hope the new distributor reinvigorates the dealer and parts network that seems to have languished under this confusing interregnum.

    SYM certainly is leagues ahead of Aprilia!!
    Larry G

  5. Actually, I think having east and west distributors makes sense, given how they got burned (no pun intended) by Carter Bros’ warehouse fire. If one is unable to do business, the other can step in. It might save a day or two on parts/bike shipments, too.

  6. I think the “backup” aspect of it is really the only benefit I see, with the negatives being:

    1) Branding. If the bikes feature Peirspeed/Lance branding, they will need to be manufactured in separate (and smaller thus more expensive) batches and packed/shipped separately. Even if body parts are the same colors, decals and branding can make that tricky. Manuals and such will need to be branded.

    2) Shipping. Will all bikes come through the West Coast? wont’ shipping prices to Georgia (whether cross-country or through the canal) be more expensive, putting them at a disadvantage on pricing?

    3) Homologation/Customs. Even if both companies are able to use the same paperwork, if the shipments are broken up, I can see that creating more customs headaches, especially with the arbitrary inspections we’ve seen lately. And CARB can throw another big wrench in all that.

    4) Advertising/Marketing. Wherever the border is, some things will cross it. So the companies will have to cooperate for national advertising and marketing (Scoot! magazine, national rallies, etc). I don’t see that going well.

    5) Border disputes. I know of instances of dealers that refuse to work with a certain regional sales rep, so another rep is assigned to them. What if a dealership has had a bad experience with Lance or Peirspeed, but wants to deal SYM? If a dealer goes over the distributor’s head and contacts SYM and says “I hate our distributor, I want the other guy,” SYM is going to say “OK, sure thing, we want to sell bikes.” that’s not going to be pretty.

    6) Bike/Parts supply. Both sides will feel the other is being favored for supply. One supplier will be short on something, and they (or worse, dealers) will call the other supplier. Sounds great, but sooner or later the heirarchy will break down and both distributors will be dealing parts directly to dealers (and even customers) nationwide.

    7) Support (Dealer and consumer) again, any unresolved complaints or service problems will end up becoming divisive. Online forums will form opinions on which distributor is easier to work with, and everyone will rush to them for help, parts, warranty info, etc. And what about people that move (or ride!) cross-country and need warranty work or parts?

    8) Duplication of efforts. Both distributors are paying for warehousing, staff, offices, communications, design, advertising, PR, web hosting, etc. Sure, it’s a smaller warehouse, a slightly smaller staff, etc, but the overall expenses dont’ scale half and half, they’re both spending (I’d guess) 2/3 of what other national distributors would spend, with only half the market to recoup expenses.

    9) The eventual reconnection. I really just see this as a lack of commitment to either importer, saying “we’ll try both these guys and see which one works out.” So sooner or later, when one or the other fails, the other one gets to take over their headaches and sloppy record keeping and warranties and such. Fun.

    Sure, all this stuff could be covered by good planning, foresight, and well-constructed contracts, but when have we ever seen that from a scooter importer!?

  7. It all still sounds terribly speculative. My dealer has not received any official word, but is east of the Mississippi, so… I reckon time will tell.

  8. well being in Florida I would rather work with Lance all the way out in Cali… then Peirspeed they have the worst service ever…

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