Yamaha’s Partnership with the Outdoors and What It Means to You
Derrek Sigler 12.10.14
Conservation organizations are always in need of more money and toward that end, there are always contests and raffles used to raise awareness, funds, and involvement. Quite often these groups give away an ATV. Have you noticed that more often than not, that ATV is a Yamaha? Yamaha’s involvement with the outdoors goes a lot further than a few donated machines, however. The outdoors is part of the company’s culture.
Yamaha has had a long-standing partnership with the outdoor world, and not just as a maker of ATVs and motorcycles that tread dirt. Yamaha has been actively involved in the outdoors community for more than 25 years. Both the Grizzly utility ATV and Viking side-by-side group fall under the “Yamaha Outdoors” banner. Many of us have seen blogs and social media content from Yamaha Outdoors relating to hunting and fishing, as well as camping and more.
“It starts with our Vice President, Mike Martinez and comes on down,” said Steve Nessl, Yamaha’s marketing manager. “It’s who we are. We fancy ourselves outdoorsmen. The people in our group love to spend time outdoors, be it plinking, fishing, hunting birds, or chasing big game. It sure makes it a lot of fun to come to work.”
Partnerships have worked well for all
Yamaha has worked with a lot of different groups and organizations over the years. It has been a targeted direction that started with Ducks Unlimited (DU). Additionally, Yamaha was Buckmasters‘ first sponsor more than 20 years ago. They also produced one of the first camouflaged ATVs back in the 1980s, said Van Holmes, who works with Yamaha’s public relations and marketing efforts.
“Ducks Unlimited is one of the first pure conservation organizations that Yamaha actively promoted,” Holmes said. “Before the recession, we had a DU edition Grizzly and Rhino that were very popular and carried the Realtree Hardwoods pattern. I think we hit $1.5 million in support of DU back in 2012, so it’s closer to $2 million by now. We still donate a number of units each year to DU chapter fundraising efforts, and we work hard to promote the DU message.”
Martinez originally helped forge the partnership with Ducks Unlimited, Nessl said. He set the stage for the direction the entire group takes. DU’s members were already out using ATVs in the field while hunting and working on conservation projects. Martinez’s aim was to look at how Yamaha could more authentically work with that market. The partnership helped Yamaha build better machinery that fit the needs of the outdoorsman, while also providing ways for conservation groups like Ducks Unlimited to raise money and awareness to preserve habitat, increase opportunities, and more.
“It’s a big money maker for DU,” Nessl said. “It’s been a win-win because we’re in front of these folks with our products, showing them how it works and why it fits their needs. And DU is making money to put back toward the ducks. We’re all in it for the greater good. We go away every year thinking that we did some good work there. The conservation guys have the right message, so it’s the right thing to do.”
Yamaha continues to work with DU and has expanded its efforts with the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. They are working at expand their partnerships with other organizations, too. They have an open-door policy, Nessl said, because it is the message they want to be a part of.
“It’s been fun to take that lifestyle marketing approach with like-minded, responsible partners in our industry,” he shared.
The access issue
One of the biggest issues facing both the outdoor and the power sports industries today is access to land. Yamaha isn’t afraid to get in the thick of it, and has jumped into the access problem headfirst. They formed their own program, the Yamaha Outdoor Access Initiative (YOAI). To date, YOAI has invested close to $2.5 million directly into the field in support of increasing access to truly public land use, Holmes said. The key point YOAI pushes is safe, responsible, and sustainable OHV use and access to open land.
“This is a critical issue in our country,” Holmes said. “The United States Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management are realizing they don’t have the bandwidth to keep our public lands open and managed properly. This is a huge issue for Yamaha, and one of the leading reasons we’re so focused.”
With access being such a critical issue for both industries right now, the conservation organizations and other companies with a vested interest in the outdoors industry need to work together, Holmes said.
“If we’re not smart, diligent, and relentless, we’re going to lose access to public lands for the sports and lifestyles we currently enjoy,” Holmes said. “But it’s encouraging to see so many in the industry take an interest in this subject, and I think we’ll see more collaboration in the future. It’s going to be necessary.”
Yamaha’s work for access to public lands is very important to the company and to the folks working there.
“It’s important enough for us that we want the issue of access to be inclusive, welcoming input and applications from everyone with regards to the YOAI,” Nessl said. “It’s meant to be something that not just singles out power sports use, but all responsible outdoor use. We’ve even expanded it into some ag.”
The main thing Yamaha wants people to know is to get involved. Join DU, NWTF, RMEF, or another organization. Do some volunteer work. Contact your state and local representatives. Don’t sit on the sidelines and let others determine your outdoor rights. And if you just happen to enjoy the outdoors on a Yamaha ATV, well that’d be pretty good with them, too.