Syracuse event finds reps, vendors anxious for snowfall
Scheduled as part of the growing supplier’s annual sales representative snow product training, aftermarket distributor Western Power Sports staged its 2017 Snowmobile Product Show for dealers in Syracuse, New York, in August.
The national show drew snowmobile dealers from all over the Snowbelt, including some from the West and even from Alaska, to see new products from manufacturers located all over the U.S. and Canada.
Dealers were welcomed to the all-day show at the Oncenter in downtown Syracuse with a goodie bag of samples and promotional items, treated to a catered buffet lunch, and given the opportunity to talk one-on-one with distributor and supplier reps to learn about new items, provide feedback, discuss market conditions and place orders with promotional considerations included.
“We’ve never brought the show (out East) before,” explained marketing project manager Paul Davis. “We move it around. It’s been in Minneapolis. Last year it was in Lansing, Michigan.”
Considering that this show follows two consecutive sub-par winters in the significant northeastern market, marketing to dealers could be considerably more difficult than normal this season. But WPS leadership is optimistic and so were many of the suppliers in attendance.
“You have to stay positive,” said WPS president and CEO Craig Shoemaker.
“You get cautious, and you hope (weather and market conditions) get better,” he said, going on to explain that dealers have to budget, take advantage of programs offered to them and be ready for the inevitable turn to better conditions, when they can stock more and sell more. And he says that WPS is stocked to meet demand when conditions improve. “If it snows, we’re ready for it,” he added.
And the snow, as it always does, will fall somewhere.
“You have to go where the snow is,” said WPS national sales manager Doug Riipinen about what hardcore snow riders do when they don’t have snow at home.
A total of 35 vendors, ranging from Caliber, Camso, Fox Shox, PowerMadd, Starting Line Products, Woody’s, Sena, Texa Diagnostics, Zbroz suspension components and more, showed a wide variety of apparel, accessories, hard parts, trailer products and consumables to the dealers in attendance.
Although the major emphasis was on snowmobiling, some winter-oriented ATV, UTV and snow bike products were also on display.
Camso took the opportunity to introduce a new concept in snowmobile tracks. Camso’s powersports sales and marketing director Bruce Dashnaw explained that the company’s new Storm 150 track has a unique two-height lug design that offers excellent straight-line traction but provides better handling than typical tall lug tracks by allowing the back end of the sled to slide more, an operational trait that is highly valued by many snow riders. Dashnaw added that several attending dealers showed high interest in this new track concept.
Other parts suppliers exhibiting included C&A Pro Skis, Dayco belts, HyGear suspension, MBRP performance, Skinz protective gear, Stud Boy traction, UltiMax belts and WARN winches. International Engineering’s Larry Tiede commented that orders for Woody’s traction products were doing well considering the not-so-great snow conditions of the past couple of winters.
WPS Snowmobile Sales division manager Tim Piver, Snow product manager Ron Bentzinger and Snowmobile technical support specialist Rick Kumm introduced the new 2018 Fly Racing snowmobile outerwear collection. Piver commented that WPS is working on building consumer pull-through for the lineup of four distinct suit models, plus multiple accessories.
WPS director of brand managers Kyle Gills showed the latest Gmax snow helmets including the GM-11S, a dual-sport type for the snow with the popular moto-cross look that also provides the warmth and wide field of vision of a flip shield. This model is distinct from some similar competitive helmets in that it is also engineered to allow easy concurrent use of goggles.
Other apparel suppliers represented included Baffin boots, Divas Snow Gear, HMK outdoor apparel, Scott goggles and Dragon goggles.
The Saturday dealer show was the culmination of a three-day event, with vendors doing product training for WPS sales reps during the two days prior to the dealer show. Kevin Smith, of Kinetic Fuel Technology, said that he was “real happy” with the opportunity to demonstrate its unique K-100 fuel treatment to WPS sales reps and to train them on how to sell the product that combines fuel stabilization, moisture management and octane improvement with other benefits. He continued his demos and training with dealers and provided a two-bottle product sample of K-100 MG+ gasoline treatment as part of the dealership goodie bags. To back up the presentation, Kinetic was offering free dealer display units with qualifying orders.
Jim Salerno, president of Mack Studs, echoed Smith in his evaluation of the event. “It was exciting to meet all the reps from WPS these past few days,” he said afterward. “I believe attending this show will be very beneficial to Mack Studs, Inc. moving forward. I look forward to the upcoming season and to a very productive relationship with WPS.”
The dealers in attendance certainly hope that the coming winter brings the chance to prove Shoemaker’s assertion that WPS is ready for it.