The following article is a monthly Q&A segment on Powersports Finance that offers a glimpse of what senior industry executives are thinking about outside the boardroom. Read on to find out.
As OEMs try to attract new powersports riders, the key may be to focus on the more affordable used-vehicles as an entry point, Marshall Chesrown, chief executive of RumbleOn, told Powersports Finance.
Chesrown has worked in vehicle retail since he was 17, cutting his teeth in car dealerships before quickly moving up the ladder. At 21, he was on the management team of a Chrysler dealership and two years later became a minority dealer partner for Toyota. Afterward, he went into business for himself, creating what would become the Chesrown Automotive Group, and became one of the first dealers to merge with AutoNation.
“I started with a small Ford store in Boulder, Colo., in 1985 and built it into 11 franchises,” Chesrown said. “When AutoNation came along as the first public company to create liquidity in the franchise business, I saw it as probably the future of the business, which I think it’s turned out to be.”
In 2014, Chesrown founded Vroom, an online used car marketplace. Chesrown left the company in 2016 and founded RumbleOn — an online marketplace for buying, selling, trading, and financing powersports vehicles — after noticing an “opportunity” in the powersports industry for online vehicle shopping, he said.
“We started looking around at other opportunities revolving around technology and where we could leverage that technology and landed on the powersports business,” Chesrown added. “We thought the online participation was fairly weak and fairly antiquated, and so we saw it as a good opportunity and a good starting platform, and I think it’s proven to be exactly that.”
PSF recently talked with Chesrown about his company’s goals, helpful advice he’s received, and industry predictions. His edited responses follow.
Powersports Finance: What are your company’s goals in 10 words or less?
Marshall Chesrown: This is a little more than 10: To create the only 100% online vehicle platform for anything with a VIN.
PSF: What is the favorite piece of leadership advice you’ve received?
MC: My mentor many, many years ago, his favorite saying was, “Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell, and advertise.” And that’s pretty much what I followed my entire career.
PSF: What do you think is the most important trend in the powersports industry?
MC: I think the most important one is how you bring younger riders into the fold. I believe you do that through preowned because it’s an affordability issue. If you look at a 25-year-old guy who wants to buy a Harley Davidson, he can’t afford a $29,000 Street Glide, but he wants a Street Glide. He can buy a 10,000-mile one for eight or nine grand, right? That’s how you get them addicted to the sport because it’s a want, not a need. Nobody needs a new motorcycle. I just think the attractiveness of affordability is how you get them started.
PSF: What person has had the biggest influence on your career?
MC: It was Douglas Spedding. I went to work for him in 1980 and ended up running all of his dealerships across the country. He was the second gentleman that I worked for. We just had a great relationship and built a hell of a business. I spent five and a half years with him before I went on my own. I was on my own for about 10 years, and I was one of the first dealers to merge with AutoNation back in 1996. I took 11 franchises to AutoNation.
PSF: How do you like to spend your free time?
MC: I left home at 17 on a motorcycle. I still have my first Honda Mini Trail that my mom bought me when I was 9 years old. I’ve been riding primarily Harleys since 1977. I’ve always had a bike in the garage, and I have several in the garage now. I’m a little more agnostic today on what I ride. I’ve got a BMW, I’ve got a Ducati, and I’ve got a few Harleys.