It’s a tough time for everybody in the motorcycle industry. The market is hurt by aging demographics, market saturation and the real estate crisis in the US spreading outside our borders through the loss in value of mortgage backed securities. In an interview, Big Dog’s president Nick Messer, explains how his company intends to face the motorcycle market challenges. Since 2005, Big Dog Motorcycles didn’t release any dollar or unit sales. In 2004, the last year the company reported results, it had sales of $120 million on about 4,500 bikes. Messer states that sales last year are about 15% lower than the year before. The company had to do 2 rounds of layoffs and is actively pursuing cost cutting. He thinks that Big Dog still owns 35 to 40 percent of the custom motorcycle segment. The hot trend for high-dollar custom bikes was a fad, he said. Seeing the market for very high end bikes shrink, Big Dog intends to pursue a strategy of lower priced models (like with the new Mutt model for 2008) with a strong trend toward the retro look imposed by the one-off bikes created by custom builders. Big Dog is also looking seriously at expanding into Canada next year and is busy lining up dealers and studying export requirements. Like many, Messer remains cautiously optimistic and just released the new 2008 models. Big Dog Motorcycles.
Update Friday January 4th, 2008, 11.50 PM: Blaming a downturn in the economy, Big Dog Motorcycles announced a layoff of 20 employees this Friday. In an e-mail from Marketing Director Paul Hansen, he admits that 2007 was a difficult year for the custom motorcycle builder. The high-end motorcycle market has suffered with the housing market decline and the financial lending crisis. "We believe that a lackluster economy will continue to keep demand for our motorcycles lower than normal over the next year," said Hansen. The 20 positions come from across the company. "These are good people, and a most difficult task. The affected employees have been treated with respect and fairness."