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Off-road shop bucks manufacturing trends

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By JUDITH B. DOWNING

Contributing Writer

While manufacturers in the Inland Empire report a dim outlook for business as they feel the effects of the slumping economy, one custom off-road business in Corona has seen its business grow 10 percent to 20 percent a month since it opened nine months ago.

"Business may be way down in general from two years ago, but we're not seeing it," said Javier Padilla, co-owner of No Limitz Motorsports.

Dune buggies, or sand rails, and side-by-sides are popular vehicles for desert enthusiasts. The sport is competitive and flashy. Many owners customize and personalize their vehicles and show them off at rallies and gatherings.

Sand rails typically start at $13,000 to $55,000 for the chassis. Making them fully functional adds another $32,000 to $75,000, depending on the options, which can include suspension, lights, cages, wheels and seats.

Side-by-sides -- so named because they come with two seats side by side -- were introduced in fall 2003 and have become wildly popular. Models include the Polaris Ranger, Yamaha Rhino and Honda Big Red.

Since March, No Limitz has customized five Polaris Razor side-by-sides for a customer in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Upon completion they are shipped directly to Dubai for resale. In this case, the client purchased each side-by-side for $10,200 from a California dealer and turned them over to No Limitz Motorsports to have them customized for an additional $20,000 to $25,000 each.

The Dubai connection is leading to additional opportunities, Padilla said. He is considering offering fully packaged Dubai tours for off-road enthusiasts. The tours will feature fully loaded side-by-sides provided by No Limitz. They will be waiting for clients on their arrival.

"Being diversified has really helped our business," Padilla said. "The desert market has been active recently. We're getting a lot of work there."

People buy their basic side-by-side for about $10,000 to $12,000, Padilla said. "Then they come to No Limitz and spend an average of $7,000 on custom work."

No Limitz converts side-by-sides from two to four seats, adds cup holders and stereos, upgrades the suspension, and maintains the vehicles.

Full Article: http://www.thebizpress.com/news/stories/BP_News_Local_S_bp_1222_offroad.1.2a2c971.html

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