Trade show landscape about to get interesting

The chatter first started in the lobby of the Orlando Hilton, where many aftermarket company and OEM types were gathering after a two-day plunge into the world of AIMExpo. (Don’t even think of calling it A-I-M-E Expo or any other forlorn pronunciation. It’s “aim,” as in take aim at an industry yearning for a show with a “Wow factor” and add “expo.”)

Many of them spend 10s of thousands of dollars on a given trade show, and, like you and me, they have to report to bosses to justify their expenses. Exactly what could they do with their options in Orlando?

Killer booth display options that involve neither pipe nor drape? Yep. Haven’t you heard that hardwall booths are all the rage?

The 2,600-seat Chapin Theatre really got the mind flowing. No, the stage floor setup doesn’t allow for bikes to be raised from below. “But we can lower them down from above.” And the first exhibitor that books a band for the stage as a way to celebrate with their dealers will get plenty of light and sound. It’s a perfect venue for plenty of reasons, with product unveilings only the start.

Leave the jackets at home? Never a sure thing, but I’d put my money on it at experiencing 82 and sunny there in January. Back in the day they’d call it “Chamber of Commerce” weather, just what the local company ordered in hopes of enticing a prospective employer to town.

Fun stuff for the family? You got it. On a tour of the Orange County Convention Center, I learned more than I ever thought I would about contractors and IT options for booths and food and beverage regulations. All the while, the wife and kids were just up the highway at Magic Kingdom, putting in a strong 10-hour effort. And with the 100-degree temperature change from Minneapolis to Orlando, the youngsters were equally content swimming in the monstrous hotel pool. Outdoor swimming in January? Who knew?

Red carpet treatment? To be sure. Officials from a host of organizations affiliated with Orlando and the convention center — more than a dozen strong — greeted the powersports group. The hubbub must have made the golf pros walking into the PGA merchandising show going on during the tour wonder about us. And when one of the convention center executives revealed to the group that she had started riding within the last decade, everyone was all-in.

But that’s October in Orlando. What about now — Indy in February? Well, Dealer Expo is certainly going to have a different look and feel. With the Indy IMS located in a hall next door to the expo itself inside the Indiana Convention Center, that could get interesting. And dealers can depart the expo hall beginning Sunday at 1 p.m. and get into IMS for free with their badge. Hopefully that won’t lead to a mass exodus of dealers from the B2B show.

You’ll notice some familiar faces missing this year at Indy. Here are a handful or more of companies that were at Indy with their own booth space last year, but won’t be there with their own booth in 2013: Bridgestone Tire, Castle Sales, Cobra Engineering, GoPro, Helmet House, Kuryakyn, NizeX, Nolan Helmets, Parts Unlimited, PowerMadd, S&S Cycle, Schuberth, Seizmik/Vialink and Vance & Hines.

Are they holding out for Orlando, or spending their trade-show dollars elsewhere? Time will tell.

Wise move
We often call dealerships just to see what’s going on in their neck of the woods. It’s the only way to get a true feel for the market.

Since Specialty Recreation & Marine in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, uprooted from its location of 17 years, the results have been astounding.


The Can-Am, Sea-Doo, Ski-Doo and Yamaha dealership opened in December at its current location alongside Interstate 90. The dealership’s former site sits only about 1,000 yards away, but was tucked behind several other buildings and did not offer the prime visibility of the new digs.

“Every day since we’ve been open, we’ve had somebody come in who had never been in our other store, didn’t even know it was there,” owner Casey Morrisroe said.

When Lone Wolf Harley-Davidson vacated the property, Morrisroe figured the time was right to purchase the property.

“It had been vacant for a year so, but we were looking it in the early 2000s, before Lone Wolf Harley moved in,” Morrisroe said. “The interstate location, between two ramps that are only about three-quarters of a mile apart, was really intriguing. Our old location wasn’t bad. It’s just not something that people drive by every day. Anyone traveling around here drives by us.”

Has your dealership has decided the time is ripe for a move? Send us to a note if so.

More Nifty 50 winners
Managing Editor Liz Hochstedler has completed another top-notch effort of managing the Nifty 50 contest. You’ll find the second batch of 25 winners in this edition, and you’ll want to stop by the Powersports Business booth at Dealer Expo to check out poster that spotlights all winners. Also, make sure you go to our website to sign up for the Powersports Business E-newsletter prior to Indy. We’ll have special E-news editions on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Learning from the best
One of our Power 15 dealers, Mike Ratz, knows a good GM when he sees one. That’s why when Ratz, owner of the four-store Logan Motorsports Group, needed a GM for his Hatfield McCoy Powersports store in Kentucky, he turned in-house to Smokey Armstrong.

Armstrong had guided the flagship Logan Motorcycle Sales store in West Virginia to great heights. Now 30 miles away in Kentucky, he’s doing more of the same.

“It’s just been about slowing down the processes and really concentrating on the processes that Mr. Ratz and [current Logan GM] Angie Keefer have installed in the last seven years,” Armstrong said. “Basically it’s about getting the customer to like you with that meet and greet, and establishing common ground.”

Armstrong virtually cleaned house, keeping only the parts manager, service manager and F&I manager at Hatfield McCoy. The store sold 370 units in 2011. Armstrong took over for 2012 and 545 units went out the door.

“[One employee] came to me and said she felt like coming to work now because of the change in atmosphere and attitude,” Armstrong said.

Let us know about numbers and approaches that excite your dealership’s employees.

Dave McMahon is Editor in Chief of Powersports Business. Reach him at or 763/383-4411.


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