Rave reviews for Parts Unlimited/Drag show

With such success this year, the company looks forward to 2013 Showcases

Parts Unlimited and Drag Specialties employees were busy the last week of August and first few weeks of September. Following the company’s Parts Unlimited and Drag Specialties National Vendor Presentation Aug. 22-26, orders came flooding in.

“We were elated with the response from the show,” Parts Unlimited founder Fred Fox told Powersports Business.

The NVP show brought Parts and Drag reps, aftermarket vendors and dealers together to review the latest products. Fox said reps and dealers offered positive feedback from the show, and vendors reported they had more people at the booths, engaged and asking pertinent questions. Dealer attendance was up over previous years.

“It was busy from when we opened to when we were ready to close,” Fox explained. “We extended the hours this year, and they were busy the entire time.”

In the weeks following the show, Parts and Drag were busy keeping up with the orders.

“We’re having a much stronger start than we had after last year’s show,” Fox said.

That bodes well for not only Parts and Drag, but also the industry as a whole, as once the NVP show was over, Parts and Drag started to think spring.

“The dealers are already starting to build inventory, and we really coach them that that isn’t necessary; we have adequate inventory. They only have to order what’s necessary,” Fox said. “Many buy several times a week as floor traffic in their stores requires.”

The AFX helmet booth at the NVP brought in steady traffic.

But dealers also aren’t fast-forwarding to spring, either. They’re thinking about fall and winter stocking.

“The ATV/UTV season is still very strong this time of year, and we’re having a good ATV/UTV season,” Fox said.

He credited much of the success of Parts’ ATV products to the Moose brand, especially with snowplows.

“A lot of ATVs sold are equipped with a snowplow the minute they go out of a dealership,” he said.

Parts/Drag has also encouraged its reps to get into the field in what is traditionally thought of as the slow season — September through January — and talk about things such stocking for Christmas and ordering other items that are selling well now.

“It’s a very important part of our playbook that our reps see their dealers on a regular basis,” Fox explained.

Of course after Christmas comes a new year, and 2013 will bring some big changes for Parts/Drag, including two Showcase shows and the company’s already-announced absence from Dealer Expo in February.

EPI now offers a new line of golf cart replacement parts for Club Car, E-Z Go and Yamaha.

The company reported in July that it will not be displaying at Dealer Expo in 2013 because of a lack of dealer attendance. The show was one of the easiest for Parts staff to get to, as Indianapolis is only a five-hour drive from the company’s home in Janesville, Wis., but it was also an expense. In recent years, reps began asking if they had to go to the show, and for Parts, that meant a change needed to be made.

“We don’t know of anyone on any level, whether it’s the vendor or the dealer or us, who isn’t saying ‘Is there somewhere that you can trim your expenses?’” Fox said, adding that Drag Specialties will still have a presence at the V-Twin Expo in Cincinnati in February.

Instead of seeing Parts/Drag in Indy, the company is encouraging its dealers to attend one of its two Showcase shows for 2013. The first will be held March 23-24 in Anaheim, Calif., and the second will run April 6-7 in Valley Forge, Pa. The company surveyed past show attendees and talked to its reps to determine the best locations to increase dealer participation and draw new faces to its 2013 shows.

“The past few years, most people didn’t go farther than they can drive in one day, and that limits you to about a 300-mile radius,” Fox explained. “Many dealers prefer not to fly because hotels and airfare are too expensive. Most dealers are coming by car, so what we did is survey several areas to see where the desire to attend was high.”

Those survey participants reported Valley Forge, near Philadelphia, is a nice area for tourism and easily reached by a large numbers of reps and dealers.

Maxima Racing Oil representatives pointed out some of the product highlights.

For the Anaheim show, Parts/Drag surveyed those in the west and took the advice of many dealers who attended the Reno, Nev., Showcase in March who reported a shorter drive from California would be better. As Parts/Drag had already hosted a show in Anaheim a few years back, they found the city perfect for another go-around.

“We’re expecting big success at both of them,” Fox said. “It’s a little different approach, but we like the personal approach, where they get to come in and look at the product and talk about the product with the suppliers.”

Despite the country’s economic difficulties over the last few years, Parts/Drag has weathered the storms well. Now that the economy is beginning to recover, Fox is hoping for less restrictive business regulations after the presidential election in November, so the company can grow at pre-2008 levels.

“Tennis players are going to play tennis; golfers are going to golf, and motorcyclists are going to ride motorcycles. And when things get tough, the motorcyclists tend to ride a little bit older equipment. They’re still going to buy accessories and parts,” Fox said. “The dealer gets the business one way or another.  Sometime it’s maintenance parts, sometimes it’s accessories and other times it’s helmets and gear when fresh new products excite the rider. Either way, we see positive growth for the dealers in the future.”

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