FOCUS – Dealer Expo: Powersports’ Biggest Show of the Year

If you’re interested in powersports, you’re interested in the Dealer Expo at Indianapolis this month. That’s pretty much a given. Whether or not you attend as a dealer or a vendor, it’s important for you to know what’s happening. Very simply, the Dealer Expo is where it’s at for the North American powersports industry. Motorcycles. ATVs. Utility vehicles. Dirt machines. Water. Snow. Education. Gossip. It’s all there, to some degree.
The Expo this year will be about the same size as last year’s, primarily because all the usable booth space has been taken. Look for about 950 exhibitors this year.
If you’re a dealer and you have only one day to walk the show, make sure every minute counts. Stop at the Dealer Resource Center in the main lobby of the Convention Center for tips on which exhibits might best meet your needs.
While some things stay the same, there’s plenty of new stuff to see and do. First, very quickly, the best of the old:
– Blue Ribbon Breakfast of Champions. Sunday, Feb. 20, 7:00 am. Westin Capitol Ballroom. Meet off-road legends and support industry initiatives to save open riding land.
– Joe C. Parkhurst Education Fund Silent Auction. Benefits go to the Joe C. Parkhurst Education Fund and the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. Bid on legendary memorabilia from industry greats.
– Annual Industry Party. Sunday, Feb. 20, 7:00 – 10:00 pm. Sponsored by Tucker-Rocky Distributing. Indianapolis’ Union Station. Open to all show participants.
– Email Kiosks. FREE high-speed Internet located at kiosks spread throughout the convention center.
New or expanded events this year include:
– Educational Programs. FREE. Scheduled throughout the Dealer Expo, these seminars feature sales and merchandising training. Check the show directory or dealerexpo.com for details.
– Breakfast in the Dome. FREE. Friday – Sunday, Feb. 19-21. Sponsored by Custom Chrome and Motorcycle Stuff
– Coupon Discount Program. Many exhibitors are featuring special show-hours-only offers including discounts, free shipping, a bonus with purchase and giveaways.
– Kids Motorcycle Camp. Kids Motorcycle Camp is a licensed/bonded childcare service provided at no charge for children ages 4-11.

One of the continuing growth trends at the Dealer Expo reflects what’s happening in the North American marketplace: more products are coming from more foreign companies, especially China and Taiwan. The number of Italian companies participating, boosted in large part by the efforts of the Italian Trade Commission representatives based in Los Angeles, continues to grow, as well.
Last year, 33 companies from China and Taiwan participated. This year, that number jumped to 42 companies, up 28%. (See chart on Page 17.) The actual number could be larger, according to show officials, because many foreign companies that maintain sales offices in the United States often use that address when registering.
While the Chinese and Taiwan companies won’t be grouped as tightly as the Italian contingent, located on the main floor in the Italian Pavilion, plans call for a more efficient setup next year.
“We’re looking at ways to group them all collectively in one space, possibly in the Marriott Ballroom next year,” says Tracy Harris, vice president of the Powersports Group at Advanstar Communications. Advanstar owns and operates the Dealer Expo. “That’s a thought. As we see more and more of these companies, it makes sense to group them together, but we’re not there this year.”
New this year are Australia, Africa, Hong Kong, Korea and Turkey. Companies came from Ireland, the Netherlands, and New Zealand last year but are not returning.
Even though the Convention Center is filled, there are some changes from last year, including some “no shows.” The RCA Dome is no longer dedicated exclusively to V-twin companies and it no longer has its own registration desk. The Dome now includes restaurants and other powersports companies; only about half of it contains V-twin products.
One major company that’s not returning this year is Sullivan’s USA, the national distributor. Derrick Welch, Sullivan’s director of sales, said the company simply decided to reallocate its resources after participating at the Expo for 28 years. Welch told Powersports Business that Sullivan’s estimated that the show cost it about $400,000 when all expenses were added up.
“We decided to use that money to support our dealers year ’round,” he said. Sullivan’s will add more sales representatives and offer dealers more incentive programs with the money, he said.

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