There was a definite shift in spirits and attitude at this year’s Business Solutions Show in San Antonio, Texas, according to a news release from event sponsor Star-Parkway. The mood could easily be described in one word – positive.
“From the opening address at RV University to the closing bell of the exhibit hall, I had dealers and suppliers tell me that they saw more smiles and heard more optimistic stories about a resurgence in sales than they had seen or heard in years. I sensed a realistic and positive outlook from our attendees that signaled, in my mind, a readiness to meet the demands of the market,” said Martin Street, president and CEO of Stag-Parkway.
Business Solutions 2010 was host to more than 900 guests from over 424 dealerships nationwide. The event blended professional business development and product training with an 80,000-square-foot exhibit hall that hosted 156 suppliers featuring products at incredible savings.
According to John Spaulding, senior vice president of marketing for Stag-Parkway, “Whoever said traditional tradeshows are dead, are completely out of touch with our dealers and our market. We witnessed firsthand the power of bringing people together face-to-face. Everyone was energized, positive and looking forward to the future. I think people fed off of each other’s enthusiasm – another strong endorsement for meetings like ours.”
“Everything was up this year,” said Spaulding. “The attendance was up at RV University. We had more trade show attendees than last year. And our social and networking functions were lively and packed. If this was not our best show, it was certainly one of the best events we’ve ever hosted. I think releasing a lot of new products and services at the show helped address the strategic retail management issues that we’ve been hearing about from our customers and helped fuel the positive outlook and attendance.”
The central message Stag-Parkway delivered at the show was “be prepared.” The company wanted to create a show experience that did three things, Street said:
- Talk about the importance of preparing your business and employees for the demands of your customers.
- Showcase our new PRO education series and Complete Merchandising Solutions.
- Provide extraordinary buying opportunities that matched our customer’s needs to stock appropriately going into season.
“Based on the feedback I got from our attending dealers, I think we were extremely successful on all counts,” Street concluded.
During RV University, Stag-Parkway launched the PRO education series – a free professional development training program that addresses marketing, merchandising, sales, customer experience and human resources topics for RV parts and accessory retailers.
“The enrollment and interest was overwhelming. PRO struck a chord with our dealers that resonated with their desire to provide training for their employees that improves store performance,” said Spaulding. “We also rolled out a more comprehensive Complete Merchandising program to help dealers with store set and design, visual merchandising and asset management which was equally well received.”
The success of the event was the product of doing one thing really well last year – listening.
“We spent considerable effort adapting our business based on what our customers were telling us. We followed up at the show by conducting a round table discussion at RV University to receive feedback on what we can be doing better or differently to service our customers. We plan to act on that information, build on this recent show experience and continue to develop programs and services that drive success for all our business partners,” added Street. “In the end, no matter what business you are in, serving your customers well will drive your company’s success. Our experience and the responses we received in San Antonio clearly prove that we do that.”
Stag-Parkway presented its Supplier Partnership Award to six firms during the event.
“We look for business partners that foster mutual growth and success in the market by delivering programs, strategies and products in such a way that our customers can sell more, sell it more profitably and ultimately be the source of choice for their consumer for all RV parts and accessories,” said Street. “We are extremely fortunate to have wonderful supplier partners and recognizing those firms that exceed our expectations is always a challenge.”
The Supplier Partnership Award, affectionately known as the peach, is a glass blown peach that is artfully made by the internationally recognized Frabel studio in Atlanta. The fruit of the native peach tree of Georgia symbolizes how Stag-Parkway feels about these firms. The 2009 awards were presented to Blue Ox, RV Designer Collection, SIKA, Ultra-Fab, Watts Flowmatic and Winegard.
Candidates for the Supplier Partnership Award are nominated by the Stag-Parkway Product Management Team.
“The beauty of our award is that companies of virtually any size can be competitive and win,” said Spaulding. “In any given year we’ll recognize long standing business partners, new suppliers, huge multinational corporations and family owned businesses. It’s really a matter of attitude, commitment, creativity and character that helps us identify the winners.”