It all started with a Yamaha PW50 and a subscription to Cycle Canada. His Dad bought him the bike; his Mom the literature. By the time Todd LeBlanc, founder and owner of Atlantic Motoplex in Dieppe, New Brunswick, Canada, became captivated by the full-spread ad for Calgary-based Blackfoot Motosportsin the December 1984 issue, he already had the experience that comes with “two or three dirt bikes and an old Honda ATV,” he laughs. “I love motorcycles and motorsports, but for me the greatest exhilaration has been building up speed to get this dealership as big as it is. The owners of Blackfoot Motosports – who are now very good friends of mine – really drove me to get into the business back in ?84. To offer customers of all walks of life products and services that encompass Japanese, European, and North American brands in one location is a dream.”
Now, Atlantic Motoplex offers new and preowned sales, an apparel and parts shop, which includes scale model size novelties that appeal to kids and the big kid in everyone – all available online and in brick and mortar – and a service centre that multi-manufacturer trained technicians call their home away from home. LeBlanc has come a long way.
LeBlanc’s teenage dream became reality 15 years later – at least in part. “I started this business in 1999.We began asa stand-alone Yamaha dealership, operating in 1,600 square feet – plus a small basement.After I believe the third month, we outgrew our first home. We found another piece of property and built an 8,800 square foot multi-level location. We outgrew that in three years. We hit the road for a final time to a spacious 21,000 square feet location and I still remember how free it made us feel. When we did the move,we rode every motorcycle here and filled the showroom like we were coming home.We emptied every crate; every single motorcycle the company owned could fit in our showroom.”
Since then, Atlantic Motoplex has expanded their two acre plot to five and doubled their in-house capacity to 42,000 square feet with plans to balloon to 50,000. LeBlanc insists they will “need every square inch of the property.”
LeBlanc is not a proponent of elbow room for a good reason: he has fully realized his dream. Atlantic Motoplex is now a multi-brand outlet.
“In our third year of business – after our second move – we were approached by BMW. It was in the early 2000s and a BMW representative called us out of the blue. He invited me to a dealer conference in South Africa where they were launching a brand new bike in the GS series – which is still one of the number one selling motorcycles in the world – and once I saw how sporty and slick it was compared to the previous bikes in the series, I knew I wanted to be a BMW dealer,” he explains.
“After the South Africa conference we were all of a sudden part of a huge network of dealerships that had even more brands in-house. Once I saw the European side of things through BMW, I was motivated to get connected with brands like Ducati, MV Agusta, and Triumph. On the home front, I knew the demand for European lines was growing steadily for years, if not for a decade or more. Back in the ?80s, I remember my parents and my friend’s parents buying up Cadillacs and Buicks if they were in the market for a sophisticated and luxurious automobile; today those same people go for BMWs, Mercedes, Infinities, or Lexus. European companies started delivering value like never before in the late ?90s and on – it was a market shift and I knew it could be a big shift for us, too.”
In its first year as a multi-brand dealer, Atlantic Motoplex sold eight bikes of European fame. Now, after eight yearsof representing Germany, Italy, and England respectively and concurrently, LeBlanc’s sales team are now well above the 50 mark annually.Suzuki, Kawasaki, Honda, and Victory Motorcycles? as well as a selection of preowned Harley Davidsons – significantly inflate sales and have earned Atlantic Motoplex a reputation as a one-stop shop for international motorcycle enthusiasts throughout Atlantic Canada and beyond. “At any given moment,” LeBlanc explains, “we have 200 bikes in-store, on the floor, and ready to roll. We have between 200 and 300 in our warehouse and compound facility around the dealership. The selection is truly enormous.”
These sales and coinciding show and storage needs are ultimately behind Atlantic Motoplex’s on-going 8,000 square feet facelift. “In a lot of ways, we hate to break-up our showroom, but these brands deserve their own spot. They’re very different. They’re sold in a different way,” LeBlanc explains.
The team at Atlantic Motoplex is used to selling things in different ways, mostly because they sell a lot of different things: vehicles, vessels, speakers, seats, helmets, headlamps, boots, and Bombardier KIMPLEX Snowmobile Carburetor Adapter Mounting Flanges – it is practically an inexhaustible list. And unlike other retailers that flirt with the big-box store model, LeBlanc’s team has never lost the specialist’s touch.
The technicians at Atlantic Motoplex, for instance,are manufacturer-trained to the max.
“Direct manufacturer training is an incredible tool for our business. Whether it’s BMW or Yamaha, the product is getting more and more complex. Without that training, we would be struggling immensely to turn these units around fast for customer satisfaction,” LeBlanc insists. “Every time I send my technician on training, they come back faster and wiser, which translates to savings for our customers. I love being on the shop floor and watching a technician who just came back from Italy, California, Florida, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver – wherever – teaching his teammates: “No, you don’t have to dismantle that to get to this, you simply,” like that. Everything is computerized now so there are many, many facets to this training that we couldn’t live without. Ten years ago, 15 years ago, the factory-trained technician wasn’t the staple he or she is today in this business. Today, the dealers that don’t find value in sending their technicians to training – mostly because it’s a spend money to make money kind of thing – suffer in the long run.”
LeBlanc sees the ever-changing training standards of the industry as an opportunity to invest in the business and people he cares so much about.”If you were employed by Atlantic Motoplex,” he explains with a prideful timbre in his voice,”you would get to see incredible places on this planet whether you’re a technician, salesperson, sales manager or accountant. It’s a very rewarding career that way. The pay scale has also dramatically increased and I’m proud to pay my employees what I do. I strive to be a leader. I even try to travel with my employees when I can.”
For LeBlanc it is simple: Motorsports bring people together. His friends at Blackfoot Motosports are part of the proof. The Atlantic Motoplex employees, from managers to technicians to salespeople, who have been with LeBlanc practically since the start line are also a big part of the proof. And if you want to personally experience another part of the proof, head to the Pointe-du-Chene wharf on the historic Shediac Bay on Wednesday nights. “It’s one of our local hot spots here – and it’s gorgeous. The Wednesday Night Bike Night at The Sandbar restaurant has been going on for years and it’s been predominately attended by custom builders and Harley Davidson enthusiasts. But as soon as the gentleman who owned the restaurant and sponsored the event found out that we are a Victory dealer, he contacted us to see if we’d take over – and we did. There’s a two dollar cover charge down on the wharf but from 6 – 8 p.m. every Wednesday Atlantic Motoplex and The Sandbar absorb the cost so that we can encourage every motorcycle rider in the whereabouts to come, hangout on the wharf,have a burger,and just talk motorcycles. The event actually starts before we get to the wharf: We have a kind of parade that leaves the store at 6p.m. – we try to get all of our customers to jump on a motorcycle or a Slingshot or their own bike and do a little loop and then head for The Sandbar. We try to be involved in events like this. It gives us a chance to familiarize customers with the multiple brands we sell. At the end of the summer season, we will be involved in ATV Poker Runs, Turkey Runs and rallies and more promotional opportunities like Atlanticade – it doesn’t stop. When the cold hits, then it’s snow mobiles. We love it.”
Staying social is a top priority at Atlantic Motoplex, which is why LeBlanc has hired a Marketing Communications Manager to handle, among other things, their online presence. “It’s one thing to gain brands like Slingshot and Polaris; it’s another to market these big names to the right customers. Facebook and Instagram are the mediums that help us realize the real reach we’re capable of.”