You knew things were getting interesting in Orlando when attendees started taking their seats in the second level of the Chapin Theater at the Orange County Convention Center. “This place is getting full” was my thought.
And everyone else there had similar thoughts: How would the debut of the American International Motorcycle Expo play out? Would there be a buzz leading up to the show? An extensive list of was exhibitors was sure to fill the showroom space. The OEM presence in the form of Suzuki, KYMCO and EBR certainly ranked as a strong start in Year 1. And sure, the media came out in full force — who didn’t see a local TV crew roaming the floors?
In fact, you couldn’t escape a mass media blitz of advertising while in Orlando. Heck, I was flipping through the Orlando Sentinel’s weekend entertainment pullout section, and there it was, right with other major upcoming events, a full-color ad promoting the show and all the reasons for consumers to attend on Friday night through Sunday. We all were somewhat curious about what Year 1 would look like in Orlando, but there was a certain sense relief when all those dealers and industry folks began filing into the upper deck at the Chapin Theater.
And when more than 50 attendees during the trade session packed the room for one of the dealer training classes at the Powersports Business Institute @ AIMExpo, it was safe to say that yes, plenty of dealers had decided that AIMExpo would be their trade show of choice. At one point, four of the sessions at the PSB Institute @ AIMExpo, running simultaneously, had drawn more than 30 attendees apiece, all looking to gain an edge on the competition. Since most of those in attendance in Orlando were dealer principals and GMs, vendors were just as thrilled as we were with their participation.
Which leads us to thank all of the dealers and industry folks who made time to attend. One dealer made a point to stop me in the hallway between sessions to let me know that when he saw the dealer education lineup, he booked his flight. Another proclaimed he had attended each of the eight sessions that he could possibly attend the first two days (four 1-hour sessions each day). And getting back to the Turning Point video that began the show at the Chapin Theater, Mark Peterson, owner of Southwest Superbikes in Dallas, was over the top during the video with his admiration of the educational lineup.
I knew we were in for something special a few days before the show when we learned that AIMExpo would be featured on the weekend edition of the leading cable news morning show, “Fox & Friends.” Larry Little, vice president and general manager of the Motorcycle Group at Marketplace Events (AIMExpo’s parent) and Ty van Hooydonk from the MIC and Discover Today’s Motorcycling had landed motorcycles and motorcycling on a prime TV news slot for the first time since … when? Must have been decades ago.
As part of our celebration of dealership best practices that began with the educational lineup, the Powersports Business Power 50 capped what was without a doubt a successful show for PSB. One of the cooler moments of the show came when Little stopped by unannounced prior to the event to encourage us to have a good show. In typical fashion by AIMExpo management, that was attention to detail that brought across the point that we’re all in this together as we continue to grow the industry.
We’ll be doing our part to get more dealers there in the future, and several of our Power 50 dealers were commenting that they hoped their 20 groups could schedule a meeting in Orlando during the run of AIMExpo. It’s worked before at our other dealer training events, and there’s no reason why that idea wouldn’t work in Orlando. The 2014 AIMExpo is Oct. 15-19. It’ll be worth marking on your calendar today. You’ll find me in one of the rooms at the Powersports Business Institute @ AIMExpo.
You first start getting the “How was the show for you?” in the airport, maybe even on the flight home. As I mentioned, for Powersports Business, AIMExpo was a highly successful event. And overall, the feedback I heard trended toward the positive. All I know is that when AIMExpo goes on its growth spurt over the next few years, it’ll be fun to look back and say “We were at the first one, and we’ll be here for the next 50 or 100.” Shoot me an email to let me know how the show was for your exhibiting company or dealership.
We would not have been able do to a lot of what we did to make it a success without the support of some familiar faces. ADP Lightspeed — yes, Hal Ethington is back at it again in this issue with some helpful helmet data — stepped up as the sponsor of the PSB Institute @ AIMExpo. Track sponsors within the rooms at the PSB Institute were ARI (Sales & Marketing), Dominion Powersports Solutions (Digital Solutions), FreedomRoad Financial (Service & Operations) and McGraw Powersports Group (Powering Profits). Simply put, we would not have been able to offer the depth and breadth of the dealer training sessions without their support. And if you could see the number of trade shows and events that ARI has lined up in their various verticals over the next handful of months, you’ll know why were ecstatic that ARI president and CEO Roy Olivier was able to fit the Power 50 dinner into his schedule. Their sponsorship made the Power 50, and the Awards Dinner, a memorable night for many dealers and their staff.
Innovation was apparent in Orlando, and we’re building off that theme in this issue with the announcement of the inaugural class of Power 50 dealers. Go AZ Motorcycles knocked it out of the park over the past year to claim the No. 1 spot. We look forward to receiving your dealership’s 2014 application.
Managing editor Liz Keener put together an incredible lead story for the Helmet & Apparel Focus section in this issue. Don’t miss out on reading about how Bell Helmets plans to make custom helmets a high tech yet turnkey operation.
Liz also gets behind the scenes of Tim Calhoun’s purchase of LeoVince USA. You’ll learn much about why he decided to keep the transaction private until now.
Senior editor Tom Kaiser gets the nitty gritty behind Ducati’s addition of VW Credit as a retail financing option. You’ll also want to read Tom’s story about Bully Dog’s entry into the powersports tuning business.
As usual, ARI provides some can’t-miss data, this time related to searches of helmet and jackets on dealership websites.
Dave McMahon is Editor in Chief of Powersports Business. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 763/383-4411.