Dealer Profile: Century Power Equipment

Growing with the right mix

Century Power Equipment & Powersports, Stillwater, Minn.

Roger Tuckner’s business card says “owner,” but it took me a couple meetings to get that same information from him. When I introduced myself and said I’d like to do a profile story on the business, he told me he was the store manager. A couple weeks later, I walked up to Century Power Equipment, in Stillwater, Minn., for our interview; Roger was outside shooting pictures of a vehicle. I followed him in and waited as he loaded the photos on his website’s inventory page. During our conversation, he stopped to answer the phone a couple times, and he filled sticky notes with follow-up reminders.  

Century Power Equipment OPE Dealer
Century Power Equipment and Powersports serves a diverse market in Stillwater, Minn.

I know plenty of OPE dealership owners are like Roger, they work for a living. But in an age of corporate consolidations, it’s nice to visit with an independent owner doing the work alongside their staff. And it fits with Roger’s belief in personal and local service to customers.  

Roger’s dad bought this business in the mid-1970s. The original location was a few miles south of the current store, on what is now an Interstate. Back then, it was a four-lane road with barely enough traffic to support a store like this. “My dad bought the store and he had no experience in retail, no history with snowmobiles or powersports or lawn tractors,” said Tuckner. “And it was a struggle for a few years. And then they developed Interstate 94, and both traffic and sales increased.”  

Mixing Work & Play

The business has always had a mix of powersports and power equipment, carrying Yamaha, John Deere, and Arctic Cat vehicles. “We’re in our third location,” said Tuckner. “We expanded in 2003 to 40,000 square feet, up from 10,000.” Century also carries Exmark mowers and a growing display of Stihl products. 

Century Power Equipment and Powersports

Century’s neighborhood in the eastern suburbs of Minneapolis-St. Paul has seen steady population growth for 40 years. To the south, suburban housing developments continue to sprout, and to the north, a mix of hobby farms and small-acreage homesites replace large family farms. The resulting demographic provides a good customer base for Century’s product mix, from compact tractors to mowers to motorcycles, UTVs and snowmobiles.  

“The lawn and garden business has been steady over the years,” Tuckner said, “where powersports has gone through a few up and down cycles over the decades. That was true during Covid, too, where powersports sales spiked and OPE did well but was more more steady. “UTV sales were especially strong for us during the pandemic,” he said. “Snowmobiles too; people were looking for something new to do outside.”  

Pandemic Processes

“We did have a Covid spike with Stihl handheld products,” said Tuckner. “And sales of small John Deere tractors increased as people were staying home and tending to lawns themselves.” 

With the inventory issues, Century’s customer base grew. “I had people drive from Fargo, N.D. (about 250 miles), and from Michigan,” said Tucker. While happy to sell vehicles, Tuckner viewed these sales as “one and done” types. “We will never see them again.” 

Century Power Equipment mowers and tractors

Inventory today at Century Power Equipment? “For the first time in 3 years, I do not have room on the show floor. I am at full capacity,” said Tuckner. To access this dealership, you drive past a Chevrolet dealer whose lot was nearly empty for a couple years. Today, it’s nearly full.  

I visited Century Power on a sunny day in late March. There was still plenty of snow on the ground, but Tuckner and others were dreaming of long grass. It will be a few weeks before he can know if that inventory is going to move without financial incentives.  

“There is talk of more incentives, and some unpublished offers out there,” he said. “It will be interesting to see how aggressive the OEMs get.” Tuckner said that some OPE manufacturers are increasingly transferring costs to his business, though powersports OEMs are not doing the same. With his sales mix at 65 percent OPE and 35 percent powersports, those increased costs make a difference.  


Power of Relationships

“We can try to pass these costs on to the buyer,” he said, “but it’s not always possible, nor is it easy. The cost of business is going up for me. Energy for the building, wages, taxes, you name it. When the OEMs squeeze too, it’s frustrating.”  

While Tuckner can’t control every expense, he and his team control the work they do with customers every day. “Our focus is on relationships,” he said. “We can help people find the right vehicle and products, and we can help keep those products running and operating well. We provide the best overall service we can in that way.”  

With more than 40 years of experience, Tuckner and Century Power have seen industries evolve, and they’ve made the necessary adjustments to stay successful. With electrification, automation, and the continued rise of online shopping, Tuckner will continue to adjust, to a point. He sees a trend with online shoppers increasingly searching by price first.  

“It’s a small group, maybe 5 percent, who are simply price shoppers,” said Tuckner. “We are not for those people. We don’t want every customer, honestly. Most people are appreciative and understand what we do, and the importance of the relationship and local business.” 

It’s customer service first for Century Power. “And we continue to grow, so we will stick with our current practices,” said Tuckner.  

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