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/ Business of the Month / Trackside
Business of the Month: January 2023
Eagle River, WI 54521
Phone: (715) 479-2200
We recently had an opportunity to meet with Chris Petreikis, co-owner of Track Side, to learn about Track Side and why this business is at the heart of our “Snowmobile Capital of the World.”
Tell us about Track Side.
Since 1988, Track Side has been around helping customers with all of their powersports needs. It has been a well-known snowmobile dealership in Eagle River, the “Snowmobile Capital of the World” and has recently grown to offer year-round options for everyone. Celebrating our 35th year, it is exciting for us to be part of the legacy.
Years ago, when my brother and I met with our friend, we had many discussions about the possibility of stepping out into a new venture. A few lengthy discussions took place about the most exciting place to become part of the Eagle River area. After all of those discussions, we decided to become part of the Track Side heritage. After all, going to work every day should have fun involved, right!
Today, Track Side is a family-owned business offering Polaris and BRP products for year-round powersports enthusiasts. It is an exciting time to be outdoors with families making memories or sharing experiences with others of similar passion.
How many staff do you have?
We currently have between 25-30 full-time staff members at Track Side. It varies by season and time of year, however, with the rental side of the business becoming more of a year-round part to our business, we have increased the number of staff to help provide better customer service in every department. Our service department has seen an increase over the last few years which we just completed a remodeling project to better handle the influx. We are hoping to offer more services as a result and reduce the turn-around time for service-related issues.
How have you grown over the years?
We purchased Track Side in 2018. Over the past five years there has been many changes, both locally as well as globally. Our first snowmobile seasons were good with snow, even breaking the record snowfall records locally! This combined with some manufacturer changes, we took on some tough challenges head-on to be able to deliver to our customers. In 2019, Track Side became the 1st Wisconsin Polaris Adventures Outfitter which took our rental program to another level. We started with renting Polaris RZR XP 1000’s through Polaris Adventures and have since expanded to include Polaris Indy 650 Matryx snowmobiles and Polaris Slingshot. We currently are offering over 50 snowmobiles, 25 UTV’s, 25 PWC’s and many other options to provide something for everyone. We offer units that customers can use on-road, on-trail and on-water! This enabled us to have something for people to do when they are not able to purchase units themselves or for those that are not looking to store, maintain and upkeep their own products.
In 2019, we looked to expand out footprint by acquiring Headwaters Polaris in Watersmeet, Michigan. We were eager to help more customers and wanted to allow more flexibility between stores when a customer needed something. Headwaters Polaris is a hidden little gem that people often drive past vs. drive to. We brought in more apparel lines, still offer Ariens snowblowers and the many different Polaris options that Headwaters has been known for as a smaller dealership. We wanted to create more of a shared rental experience between the two locations knowing that there are so many beautiful sites to see in the UP of Michigan. Their snowmobile and UTV rental program offer the same great product through Polaris Adventures as Track Side.
When COVID hit, we looked for some alternatives that would help put us in a better position knowing that more people wanted to be outside with their family creating those memories. In 2021, we acquired Anchor Marine and Storage in Three Lakes as well as Sunset Grill. This allowed us to work with a more direct water access while at the same time more customer direct support in the marine segment. We recently completed a new showroom at Anchor Marine and partnered with BRP Unchartered Society for a completely new rental opportunity. Combining our resources together, we are able to help customers in many ways. We expanded Sunset Grill’s hours to now include serving dinner too.
Since 2018, the off-road segment demand has grown tremendously. To a point where it is difficult to keep a new unit in our showroom long enough for customers to see, sit and feel what it would be like driving down a dirt trail inside themselves. This demand put on manufacturers had many new challenges thrown at us. Because a lot of customers weren’t able to get units themselves or did not want to trailer them long distance, we looked to increase our rental offerings. Our rental UTV fleet increased over double what it was in 2018. We have increased our Personal Watercraft (PWC) fleet size each year with a goal of not having to turn people away when they call or ask to rent one.
How do you give back to the community and why is this important for you?
Our community support is really important to us. Our team comes to work every day to help support our customers and community in many ways. We are open 7 days a week for most of the year and some staff work many weekends, holidays and evenings to meet deadlines or help customers. We work and live in our community to help contribute as well in other ways too.
We have continued to support the Groom to Ride raffle by donating a snowmobile each year to the local snowmobile clubs: Sno-Eagles, Northern Lights and Sno-Buddies to raise additional funds towards keeping our snowmobile trails groomed. This year we were approached by the Eagle River Fire Department to help them do a raffle for a new snowmobile. We have supported the Wisconsin Military Snowmobile Ride with as many rentals as they need each year. There is nothing better than knowing family members of our veterans are out enjoying the trails – some for the first time ever.
We partnered with Boondock Nation to help promote our community more and tie together where it all began. Boondock Nation is a TV series following backcountry snowmobilers, Dylan Rose and Jack Sarama on their adventures across the Unites States and Canada. Both grew up in Vilas County and now have their own media channels for people to follow their experiences.
There are many different local events, activities and raffles that Track Side supports year-round. We also help give to many organizations from Wounded Warriors in Action, Boy Scouts, Northland Pines Cheer & Dance and many others. There are so many good things that our community does to help each other out that it is hard not to help when possible.
Anything else you would like to add?
We would like to thank everyone that has helped us along our journey these last five years. We would also like to thank everyone for their continued support and understanding through the difficult times our industry has faced since COVID. The supply shortages, the backorders, the recalls and staffing challenges are just some of the transitions we have navigated through. Our community is the best when it comes to so many things. Our team comes to work everyday to help customers and provide the best services we can in every situation. With so many new ways to grade or evaluate a person or business, it makes it more challenging. We strive to do what is right, period. We are constantly looking for ways to keep prices down as well as increase products/services to make customer’s needs met without having to travel or shop online.
For rentals, our goal has continued to try and offer the best rental opportunity to all customers while focusing on safety and experience. We stress the need for riders to stay on groomed trails and/or routes. We stress the current trail conditions to reduce incidents that may happen. We work as tour guides to help navigate them to local businesses or establishments. We also work with local businesses to help each other offer more opportunities while still affordable for their guests. With this growth, it has come with more challenges that our team has taken head-on.
It was a huge surprise and honor to accept the Wisconsin Snowmobile Dealer of the year, American Council of Snowmobile Association Dealer of the Year and the International Snowmobile Dealer of the Year all in one year! We feel humbled to be part of the moment and recognition of these great organizations as well as the Vilas County Economic Development Corporation now. We strive to look for ways to contribute to each and every person who wants to make the Northwoods their home, no matter for how short or long of a time.
Congratulations to Track Side!!
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Located in Eagle River, the Northwoods Children's Museum has thought outside the box continuing its programming and mission to give back to the community even during Covid-19.
Congratulations to the new $3.3 million Country Market in Lac du Flambeau (LdF) for being selected as the VCEDC July Business of the Month. According to Melissa Doud, LDF Business Development Corp. Interim COO, the Country Market which opened in June, has enhanced the entire shopping experience.
Congratulations to Land O' Lakes Arts, a cultural establishment that offers people of all ages that sense of wonder and purpose.
Steve and Lisa Coon have turned their passion for the outdoors into a successful business and yet, feel their true success comes from being integrated into the community, a community they feel is like family.
Among being a stellar lodge, restaurant, and destination of choice for tourists and area residents, we congratulate Debby and Dan Johns and all of their staff for their generosity and commitment to Vilas County to ensure our history and culture live on for future generations.
Congratulations to Eagle River's Last Resort for 38 years in business providing great customer service and experiences to Eagle River visitors, and providing a positive influence on the Eagle River community.
In 2016, April graduated from a business startup course, now called Nicolet Entrepreneur Training (NET) program, offered through a partnership with the VCEDC and Nicolet College. "With ongoing support from the VCEDC, including rental space within the Eagle River Business Incubator, I was able to develop and implement my business plan, founding Starlight in 2016," said April.
Reach out to the folks at the Vilas County Economic Development Corporation today!Contact Us
We can email you a PDF highlighting many of the wonderful aspects of our area.