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|NH's Top Family-Owned Businesses: HK Powersports|
|Published Tuesday, August 22, 2017|
This is the second in a five-part series on NH's top family-owned businesses.
Steve Whalley, president, and Lisa Meeken, general manager. Photo by Scott Murphy.
From a young age, Steve Whalley and his brother Mike shared a love of anything with a motor and working for themselves. When the popularity of sports bikes hit in the late 70s, their parents encouraged them to kick off their early 20s by opening Hooksett Kawasaki and bring the trend to the Manchester area. The duo changed the name of the business to HK Powersports as they expanded their portfolio to include eight brands of ATVs, motorcycles, snowmobiles and watercrafts, available at locations in Hooksett and Laconia staffed by younger generations of the Whalley family.
Now president of the company, Steve Whalley speaks positively of the impact of their family bond, which he says bolsters the team’s reliability and dedication. He’s joined by his children Lisa and Brian, who work as general managers in Laconia, and younger brother Jim, who manages the Hooksett store (Mike passed away in 2008).
With this new talent joining the company, Whalley has taken a step back from day-to-day operations, instead running errands and handling miscellaneous tasks while also serving as an executive resource. He jokes that he’s a “glorified delivery boy who still has check-writing authority,” but adds that retirement is still far away, as he’d rather continue helping to grow the company than play golf every day.
“Being multi-generational, we’ve learned to succeed by balancing bolder ideas from the younger generations and more conservative suggestions from [Jim and] myself,” says Whalley.
While consolidation has become common in the powersports industry, Whalley is focusing on growing HK Powersports, adding more younger workers to his staff of 50 and expanding the success of the annual HK Powersports Land and Lake Poker Run, which has raised just over $1 million for Easter Seals NH during the past 16 years.
“Long-range planning is always a difficult thing; I was a board member for Yamaha, and it seemed like we updated our three-year plan every six months,” says Whalley. “We have a good team in place, and for now, we’re happy with what we have.”
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