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A blizzard of business

Ellen Cook
Staff Writer


There are those people out there who didn’t mind the heavy snowfall and record-breaking winter weather much of northern Utah experienced this year, and the May family is definitely “those people.”
Brothers, Frank, Jr., and Jim May, own and operate Frank May Ski-doo in Honeyville, a well-recognized dealership in Ski-doo snowmobiles and Can-Am off-road vehicles. It is a family operation they have literally grown into.
In the late 1960s, Frank May, Sr., a husband, father, milk truck driver and winter sports enthusiast, started a side business picking up snowmobiles to sell to his friends and neighbors in Honeyville.
“My dad never really planned on being a Ski-doo dealer. He was the repair man,” Frank, Jr. said. “There was a lot of repairing in those days; more repairing than there was riding.”
But the older May liked Ski-doos and took to the idea of selling them specifically, even though they were just one of nearly 100 manufactured brands of snowmobiles on the market in the early ‘70s.
“It kind of happened that he picked a good one,” his son continued “It’s one of the best brands out there because there are only four manufacturers left now. It’s a top seller, the fastest growing and we think it’s the best. We are very brand loyal. We love Ski-doo and Can-Am. We wouldn’t sell them if we weren’t proud of our product.”
But in those early years, infrequent sales wouldn’t support a family. While it brought in a few dollars, selling one now and then at a mere $1,400 each didn’t pay many bills.
So when Frank’s days were spent behind the wheel of a big rig, his wife, Sally, and later his sons, took care of the details of the part-time business. Each sale was carefully marked down in a ledger. The first official year of the budding Frank May Ski-doo dealership in the record book, 1974, saw just a half dozen sales – all to customers with Honeyville ties.
Roll forward over 40 years and that same dealership – with that same ledger—saw eight full pages of sales in 2016, with customers coming from as far away as Ohio—even with prices upwards of $14,000.
Out of necessity, the operation, now run by Frank’s sons (Frank, Sr., passed away in 1999), has moved from being a backyard business to a new, impressive dealership located just off the Honeyville exit at 6980 North 3600 West, Honeyville.
Inside customers will find a well-lit showroom displaying the latest and greatest in Ski-doo and Can-Am merchandise, accessories for every winter and summer activity and a wide array of gear for those who like to get off the beaten path. Frank, Jr., heads up the sales end of the business.
In the back of the building there’s a large, fully-functional workshop, housing multiple recreational vehicles in various stages of repair—that’s where Jim is in his element. A parts counter, overseen by Frank Jr.’s daughter, Salli, provides additional hardware and helpful hints for those do-it-yourself adventurers.
The expanded Frank May Ski-doo, although still very much a family business, has a more recent addition and partner, Jason Hurd, owner of Island Park Adventures, an operation very similar to the Honeyville dealership.
“We’ve worked close together for a lot of years,” Frank said of the partnership. “It is not like we would share our business with anybody for any amount of money. He is just a good guy and we have been friends for a long time.”
Like the new building, the partnership came because of escalating sales.
“It’s almost overwhelming,” Frank said of growth. “Before, in the old place, we saw each other all the time. In this new building we are so busy; sometimes I don’t even have a chance to talk to Jimmy and Salli much all day.”
He added that going from one phone line to four at their new location has also increased the customer interaction. To help manage the influx, resident Cheyenne Nicholas was hired to help out, whether it is answering phones or running for parts.
Mother Nature, although not on the May’s payroll, has also been a boon to the growing business, especially with her exhibition of white this winter.
“It’s been a phenomenal year,” Frank said. “We did have one of the best years we’ve had for snow this year and that just makes our snowmobiles look better. The deeper the snow the better our sleds go.”
And the happier the clientele, he added, with a grin.
“The main reason we got this new building was to better take care of our customers,” he said, pointing to the ledger Frank, Sr., started so many years ago. “They always have and always will come first.”

 

Life on the Go
Road trips about more than final destination


By Loni Newby
Associate editor

A family that travels together stays together, if they survive getting there. With Spring Break quickly approaching, many families are gearing up to see some sights. Airline travel is its own brand of stress, and most tips there involve following basic TSA protocols, but flying can be pricey and therefore not my area of expertise. My budget falls squarely in the road-tripper zone. My children have known this process their whole lives and are troopers when it comes to 15-hour-drives as long as it’s split into two days.
Here are a few survival tips for long journeys with wild kids. Whether this is a first major road trip or you’re seasoned pros the expectation of cooperation and safety is first and foremost priority when traveling with children.
I enjoy driving. I love the freedom of the road. I like seeing what I see along the way. I adore singing at the top of my lungs, having car dance parties with my kids and visiting places I’ve never been—or have been so many times they feel like home.
I don’t, however, revel in the uncertainties of the road. Unplanned bathroom stops, dirty gas stations and the occasional car issue are always a possibility. When I am traveling on my own, I can hit the road with a final destination in mind and fill in the blanks along the way. However, if I have precious cargo, by way of my children, on board then this mama bear wants a detailed plan and alternate options.
If the route is unfamiliar I map it out, I divide up the distances/travel time according to the standard bladder requirements of the youngest members of my family. I give myself two or three options for stopping at each leg of the journey; the restless occupants stop or the finally sleeping keep on driving to get a few more miles out of the way kind of stops.
I go overboard sometimes; if there is a travel plaza in the vicinity I know that there will be clean restrooms and food of some sort. If there isn’t, I become a super investigator looking up Yelp reviews, google street views and Facebook pages to figure out where will be the cleanest, safest stops along the way. It’s a habit as a single mom, since rules of the road require more diligence.
Rest stops are my last option; depending on location flushing mechanisms are not always guaranteed. Hell hath no fury like a child who doesn’t want to use a port-a-potty. What may be worse, however, are the industrial strength loud flushing commodes which can traumatize a little one.
When it comes to in-car entertainment, I am a glutton for punishment and more often than not I don’t allow tablets or DVD players in the car. What?! Yes, that is real. Unless they hold a fairly equal charge I can’t risk the drama of one battery giving out and the meltdowns that ensue when a sibling still has a fully-functional piece of technology. And the likelihood of all of my children agreeing upon a single movie isn’t high.
Instead, we go old-school, well a modernized version anyway, using satellite radio to pass the time. I can tune into the music I want to listen to, or cater the playlist to my children’s preferences. We use notebooks and pens for writing stories and coloring pictures. I have even made the risky call of allowing dry-erase markers to be used on windows for drawing. This, of course, requires trust in the child/adult passengers to not write questionable messages or doodles; faux hostage situations are not amusing.
No matter what comes along: rude drivers, road construction or maybe a casual meeting with law enforcement officers; remember to stay calm. Road rage and impatience benefits no one, especially in tight quarters of a moving vehicle.
I do always have one technological ace with my cell phone at the ready. Phones with solid data plans can be used as a distraction tool when sibling tensions heat up; apps like Akinator—a twenty questions style game, Doodlejump or Pokemon Go can be a reward for good behavior or a redirect occasionally to stop a fight before it happens. I also let the kids take turns taking photos with my cell phone camera, making them pause to compose a shot that they want to remember that part of the trip, whether it be of themselves or something scenic outside of the vehicle.
Make sure that no one ever gets too hungry or too thirsty is another essential for success on the road. Bottled water, Gatorade and Capri Suns can be kept in a small cooler and save a great deal on gas station mark up. Fruit snacks and granola bars are also good options to have handy. But when something of more substance is required dollar menu items at the drive-thru can be the most efficient way to get back on the road quickly with relatively full bellies. Convenience is my priority. It’s less stressful than making sandwiches. Every road trip sandwich, whether using dressing or not, somehow turns out damp to my children’s palettes.
The last, possibly most important thing is being flexible. Yes, I pre-plan everything to a fault at times, but instinct can be the best travel guide. If the children are getting restless and a scenic overlook is coming up, or anything that looks like a safe stop with room to run comes along pull over and take a break.
Walk around, stretch your legs, make the kids do some jumping jacks or play Simon Says until they get the giggles and some of that excess energy out. One final parental tip, have a playlist of those songs from your youth, high school or college that remind you of good times, it’s hard to stay in a bad mood if you’re jamming to your favorite tunes and thinking of your glory days. It will put you in the mood to go create new lasting memories.