Before the merger, ATVs were a significant part of the overall sales revenue for Haltom Equipment, but you won’t find them on the floor today.
Selling an ATV at a rural lifestyle dealership makes sense, as there is a lot of cross-over between the customer for one of those machines and a riding tractor, for example. They own property on which to ride, and enjoy spending time outdoors.
“We sold a lot of them, but I don’t think that made up for the problems they caused,” says Scott Benko, owner of Haltom Equipment. “Enforcing the age limit was really bad. I lost some customers over it, when I refused to sell a high-powered machine rated for a 16-year old when I knew a 13-year-old would be driving it. I hated watching parents try to put their kids in a dangerous position.”
He was enforcing a rule that had nothing to do with his dealership, while at the same time he was protecting his business from the liability should an accident occur.
Sales were strong until 2005, when he voluntarily packed up his ATV inventory and shipped it off.
The way the ATV OEMs were marketing the equipment was changing then, too. The manufacturers were moving into chain stores that sold hunting gear or to dedicated powersports dealers, which reduced floor traffic to the rural equipment dealerships.
“When chain stores started selling the ATVs, that’s when most of the dealers started giving them up,” says Benko. “I don’t know of many dealers who sold them in 2000 who still have the lines today.”