Established in 1969, Helmet House (Booth 806) is one of the industry’s longest operating distributors, and is still owned by its founders. The company has been a Dealer Expo exhibitor since the 1970s. I spoke with Richard Kimes about the company’s long tenure, and what new products they’re displaying this year and the advantages they can offer retailers.
What’s your primary reason for exhibiting in Indy?
Kimes: Actually, there are several reasons. Obviously it serves as a kickoff to the season where we can display our new products. It’s also a great venue for us to interact with key customers, explain our sales programs thoroughly, and it’s a great way for us to assess our competitors and the overall health of the powersports industry.
We are the exclusive distributor for Shoei helmets in the United States and the leading distributor for HJC helmets. In addition we manufacture and market a couple brands of apparel that we own: Tour Master, which has been around since 1979, and its performance equivalent, Cortech. Additionally, we also distribute Fieldsheer apparel and gear, a brand called Poker Run targeted to the cruiser and powercruiser market, and Utopia goggles.
What can we expect to see this year?
Kimes: We’ve got tons of exciting new products we’re launching at Indy starting with the all new Shoei Neo-Tech modular helmet -- a spectacular new product in what’s turning out to be one of the hotter new categories in motorcycling, the modular, or system helmet market. We’ll also be showing the HJC RP-Max modular helmet, and a full array of new Tour Master apparel, along with a preview of some upcoming new Cortech material that will be available later in the year.
We’ll have a full array of show specials with some exciting terms and discounts available only at the show.
What benefits do retailers need to keep in mind as they go through the Helmet House exhibit? Kimes: That goes back to our business model. As our owners like to say, “We like to do the most, with the least.” What that translates to, for dealers, is that our sales reps are capable of helping in many ways. They’re absolute experts with regard to our products and how to sell them, merchandise them. They’re able to work with dealers to train their employees to generate more income from both helmets and apparel. That’s different from what a lot of other reps can do who have to carry a wider array of products. Our guys are product specialists; they’re widely versed in all types of sales support, and focused on the specifics of our brands.
How does a dealer select a viable range of product to enhance his bottom line and satisfy its clientele?
Kimes: The dealer has to do a couple things very right; he has to have a trained sales staff, he has to carry enough inventory to effectively close a sale. With the help of Helmet House training, he has the advantage of being able to create a consultative selling opportunity with his customers, most of whom need help with fitment and who don’t understand what the best options are for helmets and apparel. If the dealer can work with a client to understand how often they’re riding , what type of bike they’re riding, how long they ride when they do ride, it’s pretty easy to get them into the absolutely best helmet and gear for them. Once dealers understand that, they’re almost always more profitable in selling helmets and apparel and creating a community around their store.
What does your crystal ball tell you about the future of our industry?
Kimes: We have a lot of enthusiasm for today, and we’re very hopeful for a more successful future. The last couple of years have been very rough for everyone in this business. In light of that we’ve taken time to re-evaluate our business, how we purchase and inventory products, and we’re quite enthusiastic for 2012 and beyond.
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