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‘Born to be Wild,’ and other Orlando hits

By Dave McMahon
Editor in Chief

Some crazy things happened along our way to a highly successful Year 2 of the American International Motorcycle Expo (AIMExpo) in Orlando. If you attended or exhibited, we hope your time was equally productive and filled with relationship-building and developing new partnerships.

Here are some scenarios that made AIMExpo a memorable and productive event for us.

Wednesday, Rosen Centre Hotel, poolside balcony. Fresh off a post-arrival lunch at Adobe Gila’s at Pointe Orlando, the Powersports Business Institute @ AIMExpo Kickoff Networking Reception kicks off in a big way. First-time events, as we all know, leave a lot of unknowns. The only unknown about this debut event was which of the appetizers took top honors. Event sponsor GE Capital once again provided outstanding support for the event, which was geared to gather folks from all facets of the industry prior to the next morning’s start of AIMExpo.

Simply put, attendance was over the top. It was fantastic to see the connections being made, from pre-owned dealers in search of floorplanning options to
20 Group dealers sharing their latest operations success stories. Staff from aftermarket companies and industry service providers also flocked to the event. Free drinks and free apps? I’d already plan to book the flight for Wednesday next year. Just don’t forget the sunglasses, and go ahead and pack a pair of shorts, too.

Thursday, Orange County Convention Center, Powersports Business Institute @ AIMExpo. Yamaha took center stage with its worldwide product reveal in the Chapin Theatre, then Larry Little from AIMExpo opened the doors to the showroom floor. Shortly afterward, the PSBI@AIMEXPO sponsored by CDK Global Recreation and STA-BIL was off and running. Sam Dantzler, Neil Pascale, Mark Mooney and Steve Jones proved to be a formidable morning lineup, with more than 100 attendees filling their rooms alone in the first sessions of the day. The session rooms remained busy, and the participation and Q&A from dealers was particularly gratifying. Speakers ended their sessions only to seek me out to lobby for a place on next year’s lineup. As I told them, the dealer attendees determine that by completing an evaluation form for each session.

Gart Sutton and dealer principal Curtis Sloan from Tennessee welcomed their room with particular gusto. The two, joined by several others, rode from Sloan’s Motorcycle & ATV near Nashville all the way to Orlando on Wednesday. After taking in a show at the Grand Ole Opry the night before the ride, the GartRides to AIMExpo posse went on to visit the Barber Motorsports Museum in Alabama before hugging the Florida coastline and darting into Orlando. Gart became the first 20 Group moderator to host a meeting in Orlando as part of AIMExpo, and it was fantastic to catch up with some of the top-performing dealerships in the Best Operator Club because of it. In fact, the GartRides crew, with assistance from several industry companies, donated a check to the Chad Oulson Memorial Fund following the ride. Chad was a former staffer at Sky Powersports, which was a member of one of Gart’s 20 Groups.

There were some not-so-great family situations arising in recent weeks for a handful of our speakers, so it goes without saying that their attendance was truly appreciated.


Thursday night, Power 50 Awards Dinner. We’re all about bringing together dealers in ways that will provide them with benefits for spending their valued time with us. Read the magazine every month? We make it time well spent. Attend the PSBI@AIMEXPO? Those sessions also have to be valuable for your time investment? Power 50 Awards Dinner? Put Liz and I in the proper attire, and heck, we’ll get everyone together and make an awards dinner tolerable also!

I do admit that I nearly missed the opening to the Power 50 as I was busy trying to tie a tie. I’ve come to believe that tying ties is like playing golf — either do it often or never. I’m in the “never” category, but managed to make do.

We were proud to have National Powersport Auctions on board as the Power 50 sponsor this year. Time again, we’ll go to dealer meetings and other industry events and hear of the importance of offering a healthy pre-owned inventory. We’re glad that the NPA staff was able to share their auction knowledge with the dealers on hand. Year 2 of the Power 50 dinner again was a step forward, with a significant increase in attendees. You’ve seen that already by flipping through this edition. If you think your photo belongs with the elite dealers we’ve selected, be sure to apply to the Power 50 next year.


Thursday night, Singing telegram. This one will stick in the memory bank. At the conclusion of the announcement of the Power 50 dealers, a singing telegram came courtesy of David Wiles from Southbay Motorsports in San Diego. White haired and bandana-wearing, the singer read a thoughtful note from David and his crew at Southbay about how they wished they could have joined us. Then the singer began strumming his acoustic guitar and belting out “Born to Be Wild!” At the moment, with Liz and I onstage sweating out another spotlight performance, there could not have been a more ideal scenario. Check out the video by clicking here.

I could only imagine that they treat their customers similarly. We’re only at Thursday and I’m out of room, so yeah, AIMExpo 2014 was a solid step forward in a lot of ways. We hope it was for you also.

Dave McMahon is editor in chief of Powersports Business. Contact him at 763/383-4411 or dmcmahon@powersportsbusiness.com.


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