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Interview with Jeff Dewosky, Vice President of Sales-Dealer, Husqvarna

The Husqvarna Group, with North American headquarters in Charlotte, N.C., is the world's largest producer of outdoor power products including chainsaws, trimmers, lawn mowers and garden tractors. Our equipment offering includes products for both consumers and professional users. The Group's products are sold via dealers and retailers in more than 100 countries.

"A large part of our sales to consumers in the U.S. and Canada is channeled through major retailers. Husqvarna-branded professional products are typically sold through small independent servicing retailers.

"In terms of the dealer channel, we're in a growth mode. The past year we've brought in hundreds of new dealers. In each of our seven North American regions we have a business development manager who talks with dealers.

"We have between 4,000-5,000 dealers, which is an increase of more than 500 dealers in the last year.

"For the North American market, we like our independent dealer base but we want to continue growing it. We don't have an actual as a goal, but it will be similar to or higher than the growth we've already had. We don't have set numbers that we're working toward, but it will be dramatic — double digits at least."

Jeff Dewosky of Emak
Jeff Dewosky, Vice President of Sales-Dealer, Husqvarna

Extensive Product Line, McCulloch Returns

"As far as product goes, we're introducing quite a few different ones in the handheld categories. We just rolled out a new backpack blower that's powerful and lightweight. We also have new chainsaws that are shipping this fall and we'll be introducing more next year. In trimmers, we're coming out with new products with neat features. They'll be introduced next year, and we'll be training dealerships as they're introduced. In all the handheld lines, dealers will have new products to show consumers.

"We offer a complete range of products that we believe dealers can sell to a range of customers, from products at a lower price point all the way up into the professional level.

"We'll be introducing a new line of McCulloch handheld products next year that we're very excited about. This is a great name in the handheld market that our dealers already have access to, but we'll expand the product line next year.

"McCulloch actually developed the first chainsaw and we've done a lot of consumer research that shows it still has very strong consumer appeal. Its price point will sit right below the premium Husqvarna brand. We're just getting it set within the dealer structure, but next year we'll get behind it and drive it with more product offerings.

"Dealers have started selling McCulloch-branded products, not only in handheld, but in riding mowers, too. Our McCulloch business has grown dramatically this year and we haven't even introduced the new products yet. There's a lot of loyalty from consumers. We feel we have the right brand and the right products for the dealers, and they have responded very positively to what we've told them."

Dealer Support

"We're looking for dealers who can support our brand the way we need it to be by providing the proper product education and service to the customer. The sales personnel must be trained on the products so they can answer questions.

"To dealers and consumers, we offer a broad array of product. Our dealers are able to offer high-performance quality tools. It's all backed by the dealership and service organization, which is backed by Husqvarna.

"When we advertise nationally, we deliver a brand image to the consumer. When they walk into the dealership they know that they're going to get a quality product from Husqvarna.

"To enhance our relationships with dealers, we have specialized technical and consumer call centers that are organized by regions where the dealers work with the same people on each call. Dealers love that.

"The product mix among our retail channels differs. We offer products for the commercial user through our independent dealers. When you get out in rural areas, consumers are looking for heavy-duty, longer-lasting products with professional features. A lot of what we sell through the dealer channel won't be found at mass merchandisers because of its professional nature and focus.

"The dealers are also trained through our online Husqvarna Univ. to provide greater service to rural consumers. That's a real advantage for the dealer."