It was last Friday when the news finally became public that MAXSpeed Group and BRP-Rotax were mutually ending their relationship after six years. MAXSpeed will close it’s doors for good soon after the April 12 termination and what was once an illustrious business in our industry will be just a memory.
Many saw the writing on the wall two years ago when Rotax launched the Evo line of products that did not go over well at all with current and potential customers. The year that followed was tough to watch as Rotax grids across the country were diminishing before our eyes. The latest update from BRP-Rotax over six month ago now is considered by many too little too late with CNC machined cylinders and more reliable wiring. Although the reviews have been positive, it doesn’t seem to be bringing back or attracting new patrons.
MAXSpeed began in 2011 as the sole distributor of the Rotax product line in the United States and Caribbean. Rotax, at the time, was probably the most popular platform in the country with it’s innovative approach of local, to regional, to national, to international ladder system. In their first two years MAXSpeed earned the Distributor of the Year award from BRP-Rotax out of all distributors worldwide as the platform grew domestically and aboard.
Leading MAXSpeed since 2012 has been Richard Boisclair. Boisclair, 47, had entered the karting industry with an outsider’s perspective, having been a Regional Manager at a renowned office furniture company before being involved in karting. The Mont Tremblant, Quebec resident first began as a Distribution and Sales Manager for MAXSpeed in 2011 before becoming President the following year.
Boisclair made it clear to us how hard it was to make the decision, but says it was a matter of economics that made the decision clear cut. We spoke with him via telephone and e-mail last weekend soon after the decision was made public.
Kart360: Richard, tell us about the decision, what factors played into the decision, and what is next for the Rotax product in America and North America.
Richard Boisclair: It was all a matter of economics. We were fortunate to stand alone as only a Rotax importer and not be involved in chassis import or race track operation or any other activities that could be a conflict with our existing customers such as PSL or J3; just to name a few. So our cost of operations are not offset by other such activities. Unfortunately, this business model was not sustainable for MAXSpeed anymore. We had to look for an alternative for the future and we came up with, in my mind the best solution for the time being and took the decision that this was the way to continue. My brother Michel Boisclair has been in this industry for the past 23 years and has been a Rotax importer for the past 20 years. They already have the infrastructure and experienced team to assist the US market. I am confident that they will do a good job. To be clear, I am not a partner in the Canadian side of the business.
Just to be clear, this mutual separation wasn’t because of the new MAXOne by Vega tire that MAXSpeed began using in January, correct? We’ve seen and heard some people come to that conclusion.
Not at all, it was a decision that we took.
From what we can gather from your comments both about your brother Michel becoming the interim distributor in North America and that BRP is actively seeking the next USA and Caribbean distributor, Rotax has a future in the United States and those with their equipment should not be discouraged by this news. Can you agree and elaborate on that if you can?
Totally, all inventories are still available and distributed by professional people. Always remember that Rotax is larger than all of karting companies combined.
We know MAXSpeed was basically at the mercy of Rotax's decisions with their products. Those decisions have led to a decline in their three largest markets in the world: Britain, USA, and Australia. What would you have done differently if you had full control over the Rotax product?
Short answer, if the current engine would have been the Evo, we would not be having this interview!
Did you ever consider going back to the roots of MAXSpeed and committing yourself to the distribution of Rotax products and letting the regional and local series' handle the race promotion and organization?
Since 2013 when we produced the Grand Finals in New Orleans, we did not spend enough energy with the club level. Altho this industry shifted into high profile National events, there is a definite plan to support the club level racing. Colorado Sprint Championship and Sanzuru are good examples of what this sport needs.
When you say there is a plan to support club level racing, who is heading that up? Or is that something BRP has stated will be happening next?
This is something that I discussed with Michel and he is putting a plan together to support the market. More to come.
With your unique position in the industry for so many years, is there anything you would have done differently?
Funny you ask, I had the following statement to my brother: "Knowing what I know now (closing MAXSpeed), I still would have done it.” The traveling for me was great and to see the happy faces leaving the track (98% of the people) was very rewarding for me. If the product would have done it’s job we would have never been in that situation. We were known for being the best in event production for many reasons. The customer was our main focus and the only reason why we kept going at it so hard. I need to point out that the team will be all back at the US Grand Nationals and US Open in June with all of the technology to deliver the same quality of events we always did. Michel will lead this incredible team and I know they will deliver a great event.
What's next for you, Richard?
Well, first, I want to spend time with my wife and kids and take some time off. I never really took a long vacation, even if I was away with my family, I always was responding to e-mails and taking calls. I hope I can disconnect from the stress for a little while. I will be looking at other opportunities after we finish the transition and close the books properly, then, I will take the time to make the best decision for myself and my family.
I would like to thank everyone that supported us over the years, I think we helped to raise the bar for karting events, we leave with our head high and from the whole team, we wish the best to all of the Karting community.