A midwinter storm dumped about six inches of snow on Indiana during the recent Dealer Expo, sharply reducing attendance at this year’s event. The 2003 International Dealer Expo was held at the Indianapolis Convention center and adjacent RCA Dome, Feb. 15-17. Official figures have not been released by the show management, but a survey of exhibitors suggests dealer traffic was down at least 10% from last year.
Advance registrations as of Jan. 7, 2003, were 6% ahead of 2002, show officials told Powersports Business.
Gusty winds up to 25 mph caused heavy blowing and drifting of snow, and more than 350 organizations cancelled events over the weekend. Driving was discouraged by local officials and State Police called the roads in central Indiana “slick and hazardous.”
Many potential attendees in the Midwest who drive to the show apparently heeded the warnings.
While the reduced traffic irritated some exhibitors, others worked the situation to their benefit. The dealers who battled the storm to walk the Expo were the serious dealers, exhibitors said, not casual visitors.
“The attendance was way down,” said Bob Kay of American IronHorse, a Texas manufacturer of motorcycles and accessories, “but we took advantage of the situation. We needed time to explain our new Gunslinger line (of accessories) and our service center idea, and we had the quality time to do that.”
What was new at the show?
While there were lots of new products and exhibitors at this year’s show, several things stood out.
- The Expo seems to have outgrown the Indianapolis convention complex, and exhibit space overflowed to the near-by Westin Hotel Ballroom. Aisles outside the main showfloor were jammed. There was plenty of talk about a new venue next year, but show officials said the 2004 Expo will be held in the same place.
- The successful operation of Easyriders third V-Twin Expo in Cincinnati the first weekend of February prompted the Dealer Expo to beef up its American V-twin offering. And, even more, to talk about starting a competing show in Las Vegas next January. “Coming in January, Big Twin Vegas is the aftermarket show for custom builders in the West,” read a flyer handed out at the Expo by Advanstar Communications, the Expo owner.
- The increased aggressive role of Chinese and Taiwanese powersports manufacturers taking aim at the U.S. market was apparent. New this year was the Chinese Pavilion that housed a group of Chinese manufacturers. Many of these representatives didn’t communicate well, but they had more products than ever before. ATVs were especially abundant this year. New arrivals included Power Products, Inc. (Storm 250R) and Advance Innovation Engineering (two youth models).
TMEC Machinery Manufacturer Co. even introduced a 249 cc V-twin that looked very much like the Harley-Davidson V-Rod. The bike is available for $2,000 FOB Shanghai. A company representative said it plans to offer a 400 cc machine in the U.S. next year.
For complete Dealer Expo coverage see Pages 4 and 10.