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Shifting Gears

Cards On The Table

To quote the old cliché “Necessity is the mother of invention” would be a good start to the story of Jim Le Tendre and Power Brokers Inc. His life had lots of twists and turns leading up to his firing at Elliott Powersports back in November of 2001, and each of these laid the groundwork for Jim to start and run a successful powersports business for over 18 years. After a cancer diagnosis two years ago, Jim and his wife Theresa decided to sell Power Brokers Inc. in September and move on to the next chapter in their lives.


Cutting His Teeth

Jim Le Tendre is originally from Slayton, MN but he claims he “grew up” in Vermillion, SD when he moved there to go to college in 1982. He worked at the local FM radio station as a DJ and advertising salesperson for the first six years of his career. He eventually bought the local Dairy Queen and announced races at several area race tracks. In June of 1988, Jim got into the powersports business when he went to work at Dan’s Yamaha in Yankton after some friends who worked there encouraged him to give it a try. After  several months of working at Dan’s, Jim made the move to Bob’s Bike Shop in Le Mars, IA. This ownership group had the Yamaha and Harley shop in Sioux City, a regional golf car distributorship and a Polaris and Yamaha shop in Le Mars. Jim had done their radio ads for years and brought his advertising expertise to the organization along with his love of motorcycles, ATVs and snowmobiles.


Continuing Education

The next five years at Bob’s Bike Shop helped Jim learn all facets of the powersports business. That’s when Don Elliott approached him about managing his store (Midwest Motorsports) in Yankton, as Don was planning to buy out Stich’s Cycle Center in Sioux Falls and manage that one himself. Jim took the job and grew the shop over a three-year period, at which time Don sold the store and Jim moved on to Action Sports in Marshall, MN. Tim Swenson at Action Sports mentored Jim and added to his depth of knowledge regarding boats and watercraft. Don Elliott came calling again and Jim answered, moving to Sioux Falls to manage Elliott Powersports with intentions of eventually owning the shop. Again, this store changed hands and it eventually led to the above-mentioned firing in 2001. That’s where the “mother of invention” intervened in Jim’s life. Unemployed during the holidays wasn’t only humbling but stressful as he looked for jobs while trying not to move out of the city and industry that he and his family came to love…Sioux Falls and powersports. Jim had a few offers but he really wanted to stay in the powersports business so he made a plan. That plan has defined his and his family’s lives for the last 18 plus years.


The Juices
Were Flowing

Known for thinking “out of the box” Jim then came up with the plan for Power Brokers Inc. This unconventional business model is based on consignment sales of all things powersports: motorcycles, ATVs, UTVs, snowmobiles and trailers. He worked on the plan, ran the numbers and things looked good. Unfortunately, he still had a couple of hurdles. He still needed a bank and his wife Theresa to be convinced. In classic style, Jim got both parties (First Premier Bank and Theresa) on board and opened on February 22, 2002.


The Shove

Even with the green light from Theresa and the bank, Jim still didn’t have a location for the store. He floated the idea of consignment sales with his buddy Gary Klinghagen from Gary’s Marine and he thought it was a great plan. So good, in fact, that Gary called one morning and said “Are we doing this or what?!” He then offered 900 square feet of his showroom in trade for Jim selling boats for him to get the thing started. It’s hard telling what would have happened without that phone call.


The Early Years

Over a 15-year time frame,
Le Tendre had formed relationships with customers and dealers from all over the area so a complete network was in place to help get his new business going. He jumped on the phones and worked to get inventory from friends and dealers. Suddenly the floor was full and things were selling. When he thinks back to what made things “click” from the beginning, his answer is simple: “Friends”. Jim knew folks from the radio business, local announcing “gigs”, the powersports business and family would help him get the word out and they did. He says he’d be missing a big group if he didn’t mention his connections in the racing world. After announcing at area tracks and doing a live radio show from Huset’s for several years, he formed friendships that turned into business connections when Power Brokers Inc. opened.


The Final Chapter

After 18 years and countless hours of work, the decision had to made for a plan going forward. Jim was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer in October of 2018 and has been taking chemotherapy since then. The daily work load and stress of business ownership needed to be relieved, so Jim and Theresa decided to explore their options. A mutual friend
re-introduced Jim to Steve Nunn and negotiations began for a buyout. Steve and his wife Steph purchased Power Brokers Inc. on September 1, 2020 from the Le Tendres. Steve had been with Vern Eide Motorcars for 24 years and has a wealth of management experience. He and Steph wanted a family owned business with a good reputation that they could continue to grow and Power Brokers Inc. fit the bill. Steve’s son Josh will also join the team at PBI as they explore more options in the finance department. The Nunns are excited about bringing the same customer service and selection that Power Brokers Inc. is known for to the region for years to come. Jim commented, “The Nunns were a perfect fit to continue the legacy of Power Brokers Inc. They share the same passion for the powersports business and have the same commitment to customer satisfaction that has made Power Brokers Inc. what it is today.”


As for Jim’s plan going forward? Believe it or not…he has no plan. “I’d like to take some time and relax” is the response we got when we asked what his plan was going forward. Anyone who knows Jim knows he’s high energy and driven to say the least, so slowing down might be a challenge for him but we think he’s up to the task.


Good luck to both couples as they move into the next stage of their lives.


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