Indian and Victory motorcycles are updating their painting processes after learning a costly lesson in how fastidious riders are about their motorcycle’s paint.
Polaris had updated the motorcycle paint facility in Spirit Lake, Iowa, but cut about $11m in costs and found the quality of paint was not good enough for its discerning customers.
So now they are having to rely on old painting equipment as well as outsourcing to get the high quality paint that riders demand while they spend a further $20m to update their painting processes.
Polaris CEO Scott Wine says they had hired a Minneapolis consulting company which recommended they spend $41m on a new painting system for their motorcycle plant.
However, he admitted to the Wall Street Journal that his managers decided to cut costs to $30m by leaving out some of the recommendations such as an infra-red dryer and a three-month period to sort out problems.
Instead, the company went ahead immediately with the limited paint works upgrade and ended up having to fix problems such as dust particles in the paint from air dryers.
Supplies of the highly popular Indian Scout were also held up because the model was withdrawn to sort out problems with paint around the fuel filler.
They also couldn’t meet demand for the new two-tone Indian Chief and Roadmaster because the new paint facility couldn’t cope with the lengthy process.
Scott has accepted responsibility and said they “outsmarted” themselves with the $11m penny pinching exercise.
He says fixing the paint system will now cost them $20m this year.
As the maker of off-road vehicles, Polaris admits it underestimated the finicky demands of motorcycle riders. While ATV drivers don’t care about the paintwork of a vehicle that will be scratched and dirtied all its working life, riders are far more discerning about the quality of paint and chrome on their machines.