Welcome to the #HOMETOWNHUSTLE – a SweetwaterNOW exclusive series where we highlight hardworking business owners in our community.
In 1999, Pete purchased his automotive shop at 511 5th Street, formerly known as Pat’s Auto Service. In 2004, after realizing there was a need for a power sports retailer in southwest Wyoming, he started his journey in the power sports world. Rocky Mountain Powersports now carries Ski-Doo, Sea-Doo, and Can-Am ATV/UTV products. In addition to selling products, Pete’s team of auto care and service technicians are trusted to take care of all of your automotive needs.
Pete decided a long time ago he wanted to work for himself.
Pete started his business journey at the age of 28, and for the past 20 years, he’s been living out his lifelong dream of being a business owner.
“I was the kid that could BS my way through anything – I went to college and decided it just wasn’t for me. I think what happens to most young people is, as they get older, their responsibilities and bills pile up and they are forced into the workplace. I didn’t want that.” explained Pete. “I felt like I was that person that needed to do something for myself.”
Pete didn’t open Rocky Mountain Powersports purely to make a living. For him, it was also about feeling good about what he did for a living.
“People volunteer not only to help out, but because of the feeling it gives them. When you own your own business you’re chasing that feeling. It’s personal, you are building a reputation and you have a chance to benefit the community.”
As you can probably guess, 20 years of being a business owner has come with a few struggles along the way.
Pete is a mechanic by trade. One of the first challenges he encountered was adjusting to every aspect of being a business owner.
“The first thing I had to do was change me. I love fixing things, I love diagnosing things, and often times I don’t get to be involved in that aspect of the business. Typically, when you think of someone who owns a power sports business, you think of accountants and business-minded people who hire people to build the business. But I am the mechanic that learned how to be the business owner.”
Plus, being a power sports retailer in a small community is not easy.
“In this size of community, we don’t turn as much volume. So we may lose a sale or two based on price and availability, but our service gains us so much more.”
Like a lot of business owners, hiring the right employees has been a challenge.
“You don’t want someone that’s just looking for a paycheck. You want someone that lives and breathes what they’re doing. You’re looking for someone that has the entrepreneurial desire. If you find someone that wants to replace you, you’ve hit a home run.” said Pete. “Managing people can be taxing, It’s been 20 years and I’m still not a pro at it. Each day I learn something new. But it also forces me to stay involved.”
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Throughout the years, Pete has paid attention and found ways to engage his employees.
“I feel like you get the most out of an employee if they are on some have some sort of incentive to go the extra mile, they have to hustle,” said Pete. “I tell my employees the only way I have a paycheck coming is if they do their job well. I’m on commission 24/7, so I’m always living on the edge. I have to make sure I make calculated decisions that will benefit my employees, which will in turn benefit me and this business.”
Throughout his time in business Pete has also found some incredibly loyal employees.
“I am fortunate to have a lot of employees who could possibly go work elsewhere, but I think they stay for the same reasons I got into this business, they feel good about what they do,” said Pete. “I have had some awesome kids work for me over those years, love every one of them.”
But if you’ve ever met Pete, you would know it also has something to do with him. Pete genuinely takes care of his employees, makes them feel like family and is he’s always cracking a joke.
One of the constant challenges for Pete and the folks at Rocky Mountain Powersports & Auto is their location in Rock Springs. They are located in a corner in Downtown Rock Springs on 5th Street that doesn’t get as much traffic as they would like – and that’s where they have been for 20 years.
“We still have people in the community that have no idea there is a Ski-Doo dealer in Rock Springs – so we just have to really market our business and stay active in the community to combat that.”
WORTH THE REWARD
For Pete, all of the challenges are worth the satisfaction of being able to make a difference and have the freedom to do things he wasn’t able to do 20 years ago.
“When you come to work each morning and your employees are happy to see you and appreciate what you do, I think that’s the best,” explained Pete. “But one of the most satisfying parts of this job is, hitting home runs. When you get customers that you’ve spent time taking care of, and they come back because they know they are going to be treated right – that’s ultimate right there. Plus, I have been blessed to have some great customers over the years that have turned into friends.”
Pete is an opportunist, and taking advantage of the opportunities he’s worked for has helped him grow his business into what it is today. He is always trying to figure out new things to try.
Recently, Pete along with Pinedale resident Josh Tatro, opened up a branch of Rocky Mountain Powersports in Pinedale, WY. Pete moved back to Rock Springs in 1999 from Pinedale and while he was there he had developed some relationship in the community and has always wanted to be able to improve the experience for their Sublette County customers.
“It’s something I’ve thought about for several years, I just lacked the resources. But we finally were able to get enough of the planets lined up. It’s been a slow burn but we are going to keep working, and hopefully get to the point we want to be at.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN POWERSPORTS IN 3 WORDS…
LOSS OF SLEEP
When Pete leaves, he takes the business with him. He still gets phone calls and texts. “I’m constantly trying to sell what we do.”
For Pete personally, business success is all about helping people – whether it’s noticed or not.
“Being involved in the community, and making donations when you can, pays back dividends.”
One of the things Pete is most proud of is being a member of the Sweetwater Snowpokes. In the 1970s, there were no trail systems in Wyoming. The Snowpokes helped establish a trail system. To this day, the Snowpokes aid the commercial gain that is the multi-million dollar winter recreation industry in Wyoming.
The Snowpokes are comprised of volunteers who have teamed up with the Forest Service and BLM to be able to build warming huts, take care of trail systems, offer scholarships, and host poker runs.
“I originally joined the group to promote my business, but now it’s one of those things that makes me feel good about what I do,” Pete explained.
Pete has a few wise words of advice he would like to share with anyone who dreams of opening up their own business…
“Chase your dream – just follow that. If it’s something you really want to do, do it. You have to feel good about what you do and stick with it. Hindsight is 20/20 – there have been several times I wanted to quit. Be prepared for some heartache, but find a way to stay positive, motivated, and healthy. You have to be committed. My business is like my bride and I can’t divorce it. Make sure you always stay passionate about what you’re doing and STAY ON TASK. And I cannot stress this enough, always GROW – If you’re not growing, you’re dying.”
📍Find Rocky Mountain Powersports & Auto at 511 5th Street in Downtown Rock Springs
📞 Contact them at (307) 382-9618
Monday – Friday: 8AM – 6PM
Saturday: 9AM – 2PM
👍 Keep up with them on Facebook here.
View their current inventory online here.