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ATV suppliers not concerned about Expo setup plan

February 10, 2003
Filed under Features

Grouping not important, say companies
ATVs are the fastest growing segment of the powersports industry, but aren’t the focus of the Expo. The lack of a specific display area by show organizers doesn’t concern most ATV companies, though, company representatives told Powersports Business magazine.
There is no longer a designated ATV section at the Dealer Expo. This could be daunting for smaller, ATV-specialty companies.
“ATV grouping isn’t something to be overly concerned with,” said Tom Hatcher, channel promotions manager for Warn Industries. “It would be nice for us because it would cut through some of the legwork for dealers, but the people we want to attract know it’s the nature of the show to be spread out and have a lot of product categories.”
In past years, manufacturers of ATVs were placed next to each other for ease of comparison. This year, Kasea Motorsports one of many companies is going it alone. “It helped Kasea to be grouped with other companies to draw traffic and for product comparison by dealers,” said Scot Steffy, U. S. sales manager for Kasea.
“But I like the way the show is laid out right now. I like to be mixed up with all of the different companies that are out there. As dealers are looking around for different products for their stores they have a chance to see our product next to a Troy Lee or LA Sleeve booth and you never know what can come from that.”
Expo works for ATV companies
Despite the seemingly insurmountable obstacles of an immense show, ATV companies are achieving success at the Dealer Expo. This is the case with High Lifter, a company fully dedicated to ATV products. “The Expo is working fairly well for us,” said Dan Doughty, general sales manager for High Lifter.
“What we’ve been able to do is pick up more dealers every time we go. High Lifter’s sales have increased due to our presence at the Expo. We can potentially write six-figure orders at the show.” In past years, High Lifter has been in the back of the RCA dome, surrounded by diverse companies and products.
For CMP, a manufacturer of a wide range of products from motorcycle ramps to ATV snow plows, the combination of powersports genres at the show is the reason it works so well.
CMP needs to talk shop with the large companies and wants to meet with individual dealers to introduce new products. A show with less drawing power wouldn’t allow CMP to achieve the amount of business accomplished at the Expo, and a show that focused solely on ATVs wouldn’t cover enough of its business ground.
“The Expo is the largest forum for our customer base — for distributors and dealers,” said Paul Lieser, general sales manager for CMP.
“We don’t sell dealer-direct; we manufacture OEM and aftermarket parts. At the show, we’ll talk to manufacturers like Honda and Yamaha, and to distributors like Parts Unlimited.”
A company relatively new to off-road sales, OGIO luggage is happy with its two years of Expo experience. The company began producing luggage for powersports after cementing its place in golf gear.
“So far the Expo has been great for us,” said Ted Wright, public relations manager for OGIO. “In our situation — just getting into the industry — it has been vital to have a place to introduce ourselves and our new line. We love the energy there and the various opportunities to meet key people.”
What about an atv-only show?
While most companies show interest in an ATV-specific show, reservations about venturing away from the accomplished Expo are obvious. “If we could be assured that dealers, distributors, and customers would attend, we’d consider going to an ATV show,” said Hatcher of Warn.
“It sounds great in theory, but our distibutors don’t just sell ATV products. It would be hard for them to attend and devote resources for an ATV-specific show. We feel people are in the habit of going to the Expo.”
While a few ATV shows have tried to emphasize the importance of the industry, most have not made much impact. “We’ve been approached by other venues and we do participate in other trade shows,” said Lieser of CMP.
“We’d definitely consider attending an ATV-specific show. We took a pass on an event this fall — there frankly wasn’t enough apparent interest from other competitors signing up for it.”
Doughty, of High Lifter, had modest interest. “I think our answer to an ATV show would possibly lean towards, Yes. If it was held in the right place, like Atlanta or the East Coast, we’d go. It needs to be where there are a lot of ATVs sold. If it was held in California, where the sport side of ATVs thrives, probably not. Even though the sport side is growing fast, it’s not even 20% of the market yet.”
Even Kasea — competing in the aggressive youth-sized ATV market — isn’t sold on an all-ATV show. “Shows are expensive,” said Steffy of Kasea, “and you have to pick and choose your shows carefully. I don’t think an all-ATV show would benefit Kasea as much. It wouldn’t hurt, but I think we could spend the money on better consumer advertising and regional consumer shows then having a show for just ATVs.”

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