Let's Get Ready to Rumble . . .
Boxing fans will recognize that familiar "call to action" preceding a championship fight, and it seems apropos to apply it here as two giant national warehouse distributors faced off in January with their annual shows.
While it was apparently un-intentional both Coast Distribu-tion and StagParkway scheduled their shows in Nevada on virtually the same dates -- StagPark-way in Reno and Coast in Las Vegas. It set up a scenario where there could be a winner and a loser. The problem of scheduling dates and the availability of facilities and rooms at major hotels, especially in Nevada, seems to be the culprit here, not the intention of either company to confront one another. Since Super Bowl week is normally a questionable time to hold conventions, both the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and Reno Hilton had availability. Both Coast and StagParkway were celebrating anniversaries at their shows so having a successful event became even more important. StagParkway is celebrating its 30th anniversary in business this year, and Coast marked its 10th anniversary show.
The real potential conflict, however, was that both distributors were competing for primarily the same supplier-vendors to show product as well as the same customer-buyer RV dealers.
So after its all said and done, was their a winner? Apparently everybody won. As we talked to vendors at both shows, they each said business was up significantly over either show last year. And both StagParkway and Coast report outstanding dealer turnout and robust sales.
Stan Sunshine, president of StagParkway said, "We opened the show Tuesday on what we call University Day where we had a series of seminars that were designed to assist our customers in running their businesses, and we were absolutely delighted to see the incredible response we received. The seminars were sold out almost from the first announcement of them, and when we got here to Reno the attendance at the seminars was standing room only. We were delighted to see that dealers across the country are exceptionally interested in finding ways to help grow their business and to improve the service levels they can offer to consumers.
"Once the show began, we were again very happy with the positive attitudes among the dealers in attendance as well as the suppliers who were exhibiting."
Jeff Wanamaker, president, Coast Distribution, said, "It was a very strong show. Total attendance was up 20 percent in the number of dealerships and more than 3,500 dealer's personnel were at the show. We had more than 250 suppliers."
Coast traditionally has held their show at the Tropicana Hotel, however, this year the show was moved across the street to the more luxurious MGM Grand. Coast officials be-lieve the new location had a direct impact on the show's success.
Tim McGuire, CEO, Coast Distribution, told RV News, "The change of venue seems to have had a positive effect. Customers seem to be optimistic; they are relaxed and seem to feel good about 1998. I know the purchases were up and that's what it is all about. I think it is the best show we have ever had. I'm impressed with the attitude of the customers. I think they feel that they are going to have a good year."
Wannamaker agreed. He said, "The MGM Grand was an excellent location for our tenth anniversary show and the hotel itself was a draw; the staff at the hotel were tremendous to work with and we are very pleased with the outcome."
Mike McKay, vice president, sales and marketing, StagPark-way, said, "It was more than just a great selling show. It was also a learning opportunity where RV retailers could take advantage of what they learned back to their businesses, hopefully improving the service they give the RV consumer, and hopefully expanding the pie for everyone in this industry rather than just cutting up pieces of the pie and dividing them among ourselves. I see real excitement going into the 1998 season.
"We've experienced about a 30% increase in suppliers atten-ding the show this year. One of our objectives was to expose our customers to a wider variety of product selection, and a lot of new products coming into the market for the first time. The information I'm getting from the suppliers here is that they are very excited with the response they are getting from the dealers."
Obviously, from the comments of the two companies, each distributor was excited about the results of the their show. Both reported better sales than last year. That was good news for vendors who seem to echo the cheers.
Armin Luzi, Thetford, (Stag-Parkway Show), said, "This is our first combined major show with Nor-cold and Thet-ford and I think it's been one of the best shows we've ever had. We have almost doubled the number of refrigerators sold in the first six hours over what we did totally last year in two and a half days. This is really going very well. The first four or five hours we didn't have enough people. There were people waiting three deep for us to take orders. We'll certainly be at the next show - no matter where it's at. It's a winner!"
Bill Burns, Power Vision, said, "The show is going fantasticly. We've had a lot of good response here. Seems like there's a lot of dealers here that are really interested. We're proud to be introducing a new product here at the StagParkway show and we're getting a good reaction. We're writing orders, and I think right now we've got a whole bucket full of brand new orders for StagParkway."
Brian Fletcher, Valley Indus-tries, (Coast Show), said, "This is a great start for the new year orders are up over 50% from last year. I think our success is based on several factors. First, we had some new product for dealers to see including a new fifth-wheel hitch. Second, we spent a lot of time out in the field this past year visiting dealers and that paid off during the show. I also think that the change of venue to the MGM helped bring dealers to the show. But the most important factor was the attitude of the dealers themselves they came to buy." Valley manufactures a line of towing products that are private labeled under the CP Products brand name.
Ben Long, Ben Long and Associates (StagParkway Show), said, "It's going wonderfully for us. I've been primarily working the Phoenix (Pro-ducts) booth and we've had the best traffic at this show than we've had at any trade show I remember. We're writing a lot of business. The traffic is wonderful and it's been steady all day from the time they opened up this morning until right now and it looks like it's going to be just as busy for the rest of the day." continued