UTV University back for second year at GIE+EXPO
With UTV University now embarking on its second year as part of the GIE+EXPO, Powersports Business recently caught up with Kris Kiser, president and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI).
Powersports Business: What will be new or different at GIE+EXPO 2017?
Kris Kiser: Each year our programming expands — as does the attendance. We expect to break attendee and exhibitor records again this year, as we’ve done over the last three years.
We have some incredible opportunities, such as the chance to hear world-renowned economist, author and award-winning presenter Alan Beaulieu, ITR Economics, who is the keynote speaker on Dealer Day (Wednesday, Oct. 18). For the second year, dealers who attend GIE+EXPO will have the opportunity to attend UTV University, featuring powersports dealer training specialists and a roundtable discussion. Also, Bob Clement’s popular educational sessions will address UTVs and that market and more, brand new workshops are being added to address the UTV market, specifically.
PSB: GIE+EXPO has traditionally been geared toward outdoor power equipment, the dealers who sell and service that equipment, and the landscape industry professionals who use that equipment. Tell us about the growth of the UTV segment at GIE+EXPO in recent years and why powersports/UTV dealers should attend.
KK: All the major UTV manufacturers are members of OPEI and will be at GIE+EXPO, debuting or showcasing their products. Only at GIE+EXPO can a dealer or retailer see the products on the floor or outside in the outdoor area, where they can drive, test and see these vehicles in action. It’s the only place where you’ll see this many types of UTVs in one place. It’s a huge benefit to powersports/UTV dealers to be at GIE+EXPO.
PSB: What type of involvement or role has OPEI had with regard to the growth of UTVs in the OPE and professional landscape segments, and how do you view OPEI’s role in the UTV market moving forward?
KK: OPEI has a very strong role in the UTV market. As the trade association that represents the small engine, utility vehicle and outdoor power equipment manufacturers and suppliers, we are heavily involved in standards, regulations and other impacts on the overall market. To that end, all the major UTV players are members of OPEI, including Ariens, Arctic Cat, Club Car, Cub Cadet, E-Z-GO, Excel Industries, Honda, John Deere, Kawasaki, Kubota, Polaris, Toro and Yamaha.
In conjunction with these members, OPEI developed the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standards for UTVs, and we have a very strong relationship with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), an organization central to UTV standards. The acting CPSC chair Ann Marie Buerkle has met with staff, the OPEI board, the legislative and regulatory committee and other members on multiple occasions. Ms. Buerkle even spoke at OPEI’s annual meeting this past year.
OPEI also represents the engine manufacturers that produce the engines found in UTV products — engines that are regulated. The state of California is extensively rewriting their emission standards, which will not only impact that large market, but their actions and policies could be adopted elsewhere. OPEI’s role is becoming increasingly important to anyone with a stake in small engine rules and regulations.
PSB: In recent years, we have seen an increase in the number of traditional OPE manufacturers adding UTVs to their product offerings, as well as an increase in the number of UTVs and attachments being marketed to landscape industry professionals. To what do you attribute that growth?
KK: To put it succinctly, UTVs work well and efficiently, are safe, reliable and are terrific products overall. UTVs are a ubiquitous tool today on farms, golf courses, colleges and universities, corporate campuses, fire stations, municipalities and parks, and even among homeowners. They are named well as they are true utility vehicles. No matter the need, there is a UTV that fits the job, and manufacturers keep refining and tailoring this product in response.
PSB: GIE+EXPO has a longstanding tradition of being held in Louisville, Kentucky. What about that location has helped make GIE+EXPO so successful?
KK: Location, location, location. Louisville is centrally located, and many attendees can drive there. Louisville also is economical, has enough hotels and amenities for our large crowd and one thing that is truly unique — the convention center has acres of outdoor space immediately adjacent to the main hall. Attendees can walk outdoors from the main exhibit area without boarding a shuttle or driving there. The outdoor area is key. GIE+EXPO attendees are hands-on people. They want to know how products handle, drive, cut, dig and more. This makes GIE+EXPO unique. You can not only see the products in the exhibit hall, but you can also see them in action outside.
PSB: The 20-plus-acre outdoor demonstration area located next to the Kentucky Exposition Center is obviously an important feature of GIE+EXPO. What can our readers expect with regard to outdoor demo opportunities with UTVs and other powersports products?
KK: Come prepared to see the “cream of the crop” at GIE+EXPO when it comes to UTVs and powersports products. As I mentioned, all the major UTV manufacturers are members of OPEI and attend GIE+EXPO, and we expect if there is a new product to debut, it will occur this October in Louisville.