Joe Delmont Summarizes Dealer Expo 2009

admin

A radically different venue hosts attendees looking to buy

Dealer Expo Indy 2009 wrap-up

THE 41ST DEALER EXPO was different in many ways from previous editions, from the venue to the mix of attendees. Seemly, more decision-makers were roaming the aisles.

The old RCA Dome was gone – demolished as part of the Convention Center expansion, set to be completed in 2011. There weren't any display areas in the Westin Hotel and the second floor of the Convention Center, moved instead to the sparkling new Lucas Oil Stadium, located a short two blocks away.

The new two-building setup changed the traffic flow, sometimes to an exhibitor's benefit and sometimes otherwise. One parts exhibitor, for example, was located along the wall on the main floor of the Convention Center close to the old Dome entrance. He said his booth traffic was down dramatically compared to previous years in the same location.

Lucas Stadium, on the other hand, seemed to be much busier than the RCA Dome ever was, partly because dealer registration and badge holder pick-up were there. One of the hot spots in the stadium was the CFMOTO display area. The Chinese manufacturer of scooters, ATVs and motorcycles was in a primo location in front of the main entrance. It was a "can't miss" location that the company played up to the hilt. It seemed as though the CFMOTO logo was on every available space; and the company's promotional effort was driven by its giveaway of huge, bright red shopping bags emblazoned with the CFMOTO logo.

After the Lucas Oil Stadium exhibits completed their scheduled run on Sunday, CFMOTO smartly moved to a small booth in the Convention Center to court the Monday attendees.

One attraction at the CFMOTO booth was a homemade three-wheel concept unit, similar to the BRP Spyder. It was basically a four-wheel-drive ATV chopped in half with the rear replaced by a one-wheel unit. But it seemed as though the machine, slated to be an on-road vehicle, would need a lot of work to ensure that it would be sufficiently stable. When I talked with a CFMOTO rep near the end of the show, no decision had been made about moving forward with the product.

TGB, a Taiwan manufacturer of scooters and small ATVs, seems to be planning a big push into the United States. A company representative told me that TGB plans to sign up three distributors and give each of them exclusive territorial rights to specific parts of the country. TGB has done well with its products in Europe, and has a long-standing reputation for the quality of its drive trains.

In another new marketing push to emphasize product quality and price value, the Taiwan Trade Commission conducted a seminar featuring journalists who had visited the country. Top executives from Taiwanese OEMs and the trade commission also discussed Taiwanese trade and manufacturing.

SHOW PARTICIPATION

Audited attendance figures for this year's Expo were not yet available at our press time; however, overall attendance was expected to be down about 10 percent from last year.

Show manager Trevor Trumbo did provide me with some interesting numbers, though, that show a large increase in non-franchised dealers attending the show. That's not surprising, and probably reflects what's happening in the industry: As machine sales decline, riders continue to ride and buy replacement parts, service and accessories for their bikes. New helmets and jackets are attractive purchase items as well.

Here are a few attendance figures from Trumbo that seem to support this trend:

  • Attendance of Internet retailers – online retailers that sell only powersports products, that is -- was estimated to be up 59 percent over 2008 levels.
  • Attendance of custom builders and/or fabricators was up 18 percent. These companies build one-of-a-kind motorcycles or specialty parts and accessories for retail-direct sales only.
  • Attendance of P&A-only retailers was up 39 percent.
  • Attendance of service-and-installation-only companies working exclusively on powersports vehicles was up a whopping 116 percent.

Exhibitor attendance seemed to be down (about 10 percent, according to first estimates). The number of foreign exhibitors was noticeably down, especially Chinese and Taiwanese companies. There were vacancies in the Italian Pavilion on the main floor, as well.

The reaction to the show of exhibitors I spoke with was mixed. However, "Many exhibitors had good things to say about the quality of attendee at Dealer Expo 2009," Trumbo notes. "Those attendees who were at the show were the decision-makers and were serious about buying. While overall attendance quantity was down, overall quality was up."

Joe Delmont can be reached at jdelmont@dealernews.com or 952-893-6876.