Powersports BusinessXchange: ‘Decision Makers Meeting and Interfacing with Decision Makers’ – December 25, 2006

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Powersports power players from different parts of the industry converged here recently for the third annual Powersports BusinessXchange.
The three-day event combines leaders of manufacturing, service and aftermarket companies with some of the nation’s largest dealer principals. The two groups meet in a series of 40-minute sessions that are designed to outline new product and produce new or improved business relationships and opportunities.
“At Indy, you’re just dealing with the sales staff of a vendor just like you do at the store,” Curtis Sloan, executive vice president of Sloan’s Supercenter, Murfreesboro, Tenn., said of the annual Dealer Expo.
At the Powersports BusinessXchange, Sloan said, “It’s just decision makers meeting and interfacing with decision makers.”
That premise lured 16 industry companies and 19 dealership executives to the event, held Dec. 3-5 at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort.
About 50 percent of the dealers and 40 percent of the suppliers were new to the event, which is sponsored by Powersports Business and put on by Vertical Xchange, a Minnesota-based company that produces more than 15 such events a year for different industries.
First-timer Jared Burt, part owner of Rexburg Motorsports, Rexburg, Idaho, said he was “impressed with the variety of products and services companies” that attended the event.
Product companies included OEMs, like Polaris and Carter Bros., while service companies ranged from finance, like GE Money, to insurance, like The McGraw Group, to service contract providers, like Aftercare. A distributor, Western Power Sports, and an auction company, Manheim Auctions, also were among the companies that attended.
Meeting with those companies in face-to-face sessions, which were held on back-to-back days in townhouses, were dealers from at least 14 states. Officials from the nation’s two largest dealership groups, Ride Now Powersports and America’s PowerSports, also were at the event.
“It is an awesome opportunity,” said John Dwyier of XeComm, a Virginia-based company that seeks to enhance customer communication via online and direct-mail products. “There’s no way we could meet with these guys without this opportunity.
“Plus, there’s something to be said with breaking bread with people. You sit at the dinner table and chat. There’s a lot of ground covered there.”
More ground was covered during the supplier-and-vendor sessions this year as each of the sessions were expanded to 40 minutes, 10 minutes more than previous years, at the request of suppliers.
“I met with the right people, and I learned a lot,” said David Altman, president of Altman International Inc., a motorcycle and snowmobile boot manufacturer who does most of his business in Canada but is trying to build his sales in the United States.
Altman, who was attending for the first time, said he was surprised at the reaction he received from a camouflage boot that he almost didn’t bring.
“Where I thought it was a boot for people for Michigan and Wisconsin, the people who picked it up were people from Tennessee and Texas,” he said. “It opened my eyes to the dynamics of the industry.
“I’m going to go home and review what I put together and follow up with all of the people that I met with. If it turns into something, then I can’t see why I wouldn’t want to be back here.”
Besides exchanging potential business opportunities, the event also served as an exchange of information between dealers. Industry consultant Gart Sutton led a lunch-time discussion on different measuring indexes that can play a huge role in whether a dealer’s service department is profitable.
Dealers batted around a number of service department issues, from what the benchmark for productivity should be — 85 percent or 100 percent? — to the importance of creating a maintenance line, where a technician concentrates on repetitive but potentially high profit-margin jobs.
Some dealers pointed to that exchange, as well as others during Powersports BusinessXchange’s social events, as invaluable.
“I go home with new business opportunities,” Burt of Rexburg Motorsports said, “but I also go home with strengthen
2006 suppliers
Altman International
Carter Brothers
GE Money
Manheim Auctions
The McGraw Group
Motorcycle Capital Company
Polaris Industries
Scorpion Sports
Unison Motorsports
Victory Solutions
Western Power Sports

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