Business Buzz . . .

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In case you haven't covered the entire show floor yet, here's a few interesting things that have been going on.

  • Litigation Lowdown: U.S. Marshals served papers here Saturday on about half a dozen exhibitors who allegedly manufactured unauthorized copies of patent-protected products. Manufacturers who claimed the exhibitors had violated intellectual property laws filed the lawsuits. Additional lawsuits may be served today. Advanstar sends letters to companies accused of copying products, notifying them that their future participation in the Expo could be denied if they are held liable for the offense. "It's an understandable concern of our exhibitors," said Tracy Harris, vice president with show owner Advanstar, "but we're not the police." At least one major Japanese OEM brought more than salespeople to the show. It flew in a contingent of legal types to walk the floor looking for exhibitors who might be selling illegal copies of its products.
  • PowerSports Network (PSN), (Booth 8400) one of the largest providers of Web sites for powersports dealers, has been sold to the company that operates CycleTrader.com and a portfolio of local and national print publications. PSN provides Web sites and related services for more than 2,100 dealers in North America. The companies would not provide financial details of the purchase. The three partners who launched PSN more than eight years ago from a base in Wisconsin — Nick Avgoulas, Steve Weiner and Kevin Brandenburg — will join CycleTrader.com parent Dominion Enterprises, based in Norfolk, Va.
  • Custom Chrome's (CCI) second vendor council, held during the V-Twin Expo at Cincinnati earlier this month, went better than the first one last fall. There were fewer disgruntled vendors, as CCI moves to improve its inventories and continues to maintain current payment status with them. One vendor who attended told me that CCI's boss, Holger Mohr, seems to be providing focused direction for the operation, something it lacked in recent years.
  • The Italian Trade Commission and its partners have stepped up promotion for the EICMA International Motorcycle Show held in Milan next November. Fifty dealers can participate in the VIP Trade Delegation from the U.S. for the five-night event. Land cost for lodging, breakfast and dinner and tours to places such as Aprilia and Moto Guzzi is only $1,350 (double occupancy). Special rates on airfare also are available. See Vince Marazita in the Italian Pavilion.
  • Parts Unlimited/Drag Specialties is off to another big year. Chairman Fred Fox told me January sales were up more than 15 percent following a lousy December that was down substantially. But sales for the first half of February were up more than 100 percent over the same period last year. It's amazing what a little bit of snow does for pent-up demand among snowmobilers.
  • Mary Peters, U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Friday called on the industry to support safety by providing free helmets with the purchase of a motorcycle. She also says training should be provided with a purchase. Peters was the keynote speaker at the MIC's annual meeting here.
  • J&P Cycles out of Anamosa, Iowa, is getting ready to open its second retail store, this one in the Destination Daytona development, north of Daytona Beach, Fla. Owner John Parham says the two-story, 35,000 sq. ft. facility is scheduled to open in May.
  • Wondering about your dealership's numbers? Sam Dantzler at Retail Powersports Management Group (RPMG) can tell you. Stop at Booth 7658 and give him your unit sales. He'll print out a FREE pro forma financial analysis for you.
  • Has On Guard Locks replaced booth bunnies with booth puppies? A large chainlink kennel takes up the canine-themed lock company's booth (9516) in the Westin, directing show visitors to its other location in the main hall (Booth 2134). The lone booth worker? A tape recording of a barking dog.


— Joe Delmont