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Yakima Launches New Products for Dealers

Published August 2, 2011

SNOWBIRD, UT (BRAIN)—Retailers hoping to spruce up their car-rack lines can add a new brand from Yakima that the company says will attract sophisticated consumers who are as interested in style as they are in performance.

The new line, called Whispbar, is now being sold at 25 retailers in the bicycle and outdoor industry, part of a test group to gauge consumer reaction to what company officials claim is the “quietest” car-top bar in the industry. Some dealers may have seen the Whispbar at DealerCamp last week.

Ron Ten Berge, Yakima’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer (pictured), detailed the new line’s attributes at a product launch Tuesday at this Utah ski resort. Yakima timed the launch one day before Outdoor Retailer kicks off its five-day trade fair today with Open Air Demo at a nearby lake. The regular show opens Thursday at Salt Lake’s downtown convention center.

Besides the new load bars, Yakima also introduced a new car-top cargo carrier, the RocketBox Pro. This box’s design may appeal to dealers cramped for storage space—a major issue when it comes to selling car-top boxes. The new RocketBox ships in a cardboard container no bigger than a standard bicycle box. FedEx and UPS can ship it.

What makes the new RocketBox so small is that the top nests into the bottom half of the box. But more importantly for time-constrained dealers, consumers can assemble it a home in five minutes. Or so Yakima claims. Nonetheless, the lid and the bottom half snap together much like Lego parts. And then it snaps onto Yakima’s load bars. As Berge pointed out, there is no way to make a mistake when putting it together.

As for the Whispbar, Ten Berge called it a “game changing” design that will appeal to consumers who are put off by the appearance of regular car-top racks. The rack, designed by Hubco, a New Zealand company that Yakima purchased last year, is smooth aluminum and it’s aero shape complements today’s slippery car designs. Think of it as a stylish rack for Audi owners.

Consumers can put the rack on and leave it in place. Bike, ski and kayak racks are easily attached without taking the main load bars off. “It’s about my vehicle, not about my activity,” Ten Berge said, noting that a cohort of consumers is simply put off by the complexity and appearance of standard car-top racks.

Yakima is positioning the Whispbar as a premium product and will begin shipping it to retailers in January. A 165-pound load-bearing version will retail for $449. A beefier model with a load capacity of 220 pounds will retail for $499. Retailers can expect an average margin of 40 percent if sold at full retail.

—Marc Sani

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