Toy Store Story: Inside Mountain Motorsports Lithia Springs, GA

Key to the Mountain Motorsports renovation was the updating of the service department which is kept in immaculate condition.

Mountain Motorsports, Internet Sales. This is Craig,” is the greeting on the other end of the phone. There’s an accent ringing in the words, but its definitely not the lulling tones of a Southern drawl, as the dealership’s Lithia Springs, Georgia location might connote. Well, that’s not entirely true. It’s a southern accent, but more precisely Southern Californian.

It took quite a bit to get Craig Warner to uproot his family from sunny SoCal and move across the nation to the Atlantan suburb a few months earlier. The deal that Warner couldn’t refuse came from fellow racers and famously successful powersports dealership owners Dustin Farthing and Ryan Hardwick.

Farthing and Hardwick had partnered years earlier to open the Marietta and Conyers, Georgia Mountain Motorsports franchises. Farthing’s flair and talent of relentless promotion attributed to the latter’s near-immediate success. Warner, who at the time operated a printing service, was approached by the two to helm a third Georgian store.

Taking over an existing dealership, the Mountain Motorsports Lithia Springs, GA location is the third for the state.

Behind of the counter of the parts department is a well-stoked warehouse able to serve both over-the-counter sales and the service techs behind it.

Located only a few minutes northeast of Six Flags Over Georgia, the new Lithia Springs Mountain Motorsports inhabits a 40,000-square foot former motorcycle dealer. Launched the first week of the new year, the rechristened store quickly began its ongoing renovation to match the brand’s level of panache found in the aforementioned stores.

“The Mountain Motorsports stores take a great deal of pride in its service departments,” Warner explained as we walked the new facility. “We kept three of the service techs from the old dealership. They’re great guys and know their stuff.”

The floors of the garage are epoxied white, glimmering under the fluorescent lights above. The service bays are kept tidy, with toolboxes backed up against the freshly painted walls. New retractable motorcycle stands are already holding customers’ bikes. Even in the middle of repairs, the work stations are clean, a testament to the store’s commitment to cleanliness.

Inside of the store, the service department’s lobby is voluminous. “This used to be the employee breakroom,” Warner continued the tour. “We knocked down the wall and opened it up. It’s going to be the waiting room. We’ll have a couple of couches in here and a widescreen TV. We want to make sure that our customers are comfortable if they need to wait for service.”

The showroom floor is chocked full of the best toys available on the market. Soon to come are Ducati motorcycles, which Warner mentioned would help distinguish the Lithia Springs location from the Conyers and Marietta locations.

Paramount to the formula for success developed by franchise owners Dustin Farthing and Ryan Hardwick is the relentless marketing effort. The Lithia location is scheduled to host a who’s who of motocross superstars later this month.

The floor of the main hall of the dealership is a labyrinth of Can-Am Spyders, quads, street, off-road, road and dual sport motorcycles with the larger side-by-sides ringing the perimeter; their chrome and glossy plastics brilliant under the canister lights hanging from the warehouse-style ceilings.

“We’re actually really excited. We just signed on as a Ducati dealer. We’ll be the first of the Mountain Motorsport dealers to carry them,” Warner continued as we walked past the Hondas, Arctic Cats, Yamahas and Kawasakis. “We’re pretty stoked.”

Before Warner could finally take his place at the controls of the Lithia Springs store, he needed to work his way up through the ranks. “They warned me before coming out that I’d be starting from the bottom,” Warner explained. “My first few weeks were spent in training. There was only so much I could soak in before needing to get out on the ‘floor.'”

“That first month, I outsold everybody. I killed it,” he beamed. In fact, Warner decimated his fellow salesmen by employing some craftiness of his own. “I printed up a bunch of promos and had my wife stick them on car doors at banks, the mall, everywhere. What can I say? I was hungry to win.”

Staffed by a crew of powersports enthusiasts is what makes the Mountain Motorsports buying experience so much more enjoyable.

Although Craig Warner might be your first choice to discuss purchasing a PWC, the rest of the MMS staff are well equipped to assist in matching you with the right bike, quad, watercraft or Side-x-Side.

In fact, it’s Warner’s hunger that’s helped bring success to the newly minted store even during an extra-cold winter. Although the previous week’s record freeze helped shut down the state’s biggest metropolis, it didn’t dampen the dealers’ dealings.

When I arrived at the Lithia Springs store, I walked in the middle of a sale. “I’ve got a guy wanting our last two STX-15Fs. They’re ’12s that never moved. I’m selling them at $7 grand each and with a trailer for like $15 thousand. It’s a pretty good deal. If he doesn’t take ’em, I know somebody will.”

Even the back warehouse has an impressive collection of available vehicles. Although it was in the mid-20s when we visited, it was hard not to get excited about taking one of the many PWCs out for a spin.

In addition to the many bikes, quads and skis available for purchase or the well-equipped service department, the parts counter also stocks a wide array of riding gear and apparel to keep you safe and looking good while enjoying the open road, trail or lake.

Weeks earlier, the Mountain Motorsports dealers combined their efforts and invaded the Atlanta Boat Show in a big way. “We sold over 60-something skis,” Warner grinned. What he left out was the fact that Warner accounted for nearly 10 of those sales himself. In fact, as Farthing and Hardwick will account for is the novelty of purchasing a personal watercraft from one of the most recognized name in professional PWC racing today.

The extra celebrity added by Warner’s position at the new store has definitely attributed to the franchise’s immediate success. “Oh, I get calls from racers all the time. I’ve got a couple of guys on the other side of the country asking me for deals on skis in time for the Mark Hahn [Memorial 300].”

As we walked the floor and the back of the store, I could see the brilliance in pairing world champions and dealerships. It’s easy to trust the guy selling you a Kawasaki Ultra 300X if he’s personally won multiple races with it. It’s like having an exclusive backstage pass to factory insider knowledge. Of course, the dealership is much more than just Warner. He’s teamed with a fantastic group of fellow enthusiasts, and ultimately those are the people you want to buy your toys from.

While wholly dedicated to making this store the most successful dealership in the Mountain Motorsports family, Craig Warner isn’t hanging up his wetsuit just yet. He recently resigned with Kawasaki for 2014 and is planning on competing in both the KaruJet (with fellow Kawasaki racer Eric Francis) as well as the Long Beach-to-Catalina Offshore Enduro. If you want to contact Craig directly, call 866/425-2585

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Kevin Shaw

Editor-in-Chief – Kevin Shaw is a decade-long powersports and automotive journalist whose love for things that go too fast has led him to launching The Watercraft Journal. Almost always found with stained hands and dirt under his fingernails, Kevin has an eye for the technical while keeping a eye out for beautiful photography and a great story.


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