We say 'thank you' to February and look forward to fall '14

Mike Vaughan
Publish Date: 
Jan 29, 2013
By Mike Vaughan

IF YOU'RE READING this, then it means that the Mayan prediction of the end of the world on Dec. 21, 2012, didn’t take place and we’ve got at least another year to look forward to, including the upcoming Dealer Expo and the annual heralding of the winners of the Top 100 Dealer competition.

Over the years, as the industry has grown and matured, so has Dealer Expo. After this February’s big show, the next Dealer Expo will be held in September 2014. The current Expo format has been pretty stable over the last 17 years since moving to Indianapolis, and it’s worth noting that the Expo has often changed dates and locations in order to accommodate the changing needs of the industry.

The first show was put together in 1966 by Dealernews founding partners Bill Bagnall and Larry Hester, at the suggestion of Tom Heininger who headed up Webco. The Disneyland hotel in Anaheim, Calif., was selected as the site — it offered easy access to Disneyland so that families of attending dealers could be entertained while “Dad” was at the show. Another draw: the Grand Nationals were being held at Ascot the same weekend.

The first show was a success, but the dealers it attracted were primarily from California and the western states. In order to draw dealers from other regions, in 1967 the show expanded to two events, one in Anaheim and a second in Washington, D.C. Over the years Dealer Expos were held in Houston, Daytona, Hartford, Detroit and Cincinnati.

In 1983 Cincinnati became the solitary venue and home for the show for more than a decade. Cincinnati had a large and (then) new convention center in the heart of town, with hotels, restaurants and other amenities within easy walking distance.

Perhaps less obvious was the fact that Cincinnati was within driving range of the vast majority of power product retailers in North America. A single location also meant that vendors wouldn’t tie up time and resources trying to attend two or three different trade shows.

In 1983 the industry imploded; sales began a downward slide and wouldn’t recover until 1994 — 11 years. The industry regained its health and expanded rapidly, once again necessitating consideration of a larger venue to accommodate all the vendors that wanted to exhibit. So in 1997 Dealer Expo moved to its current (and bigger) home in Indianapolis. (Continued)