Stag-Parkway Inc. President and CEO Martin Street kicked off the first full day of the Atlanta-based distributor’s “Stag 2012 Vegas” dealer show at The Mirage this morning (Jan. 17) with a rousing welcome to the largest assemblage for the event — up 12% over last year — since 2006.
Most in attendance, in fact, were wondering if the strong showing of more than 500 dealerships was indeed a signal of an economic turnaround in 2012.
“If nothing else, 2011 was full of changes that are strange from the weather point of view, from a worldwide economic point of view, from the local business point of view,” Street told the crowd. “The one place we didn’t see changes was in Washington, where both sides of the aisle made every effort to block any change that was suggested.
“I’m delighted to say that this year we have our highest attendance since 2006, which, as all of you know, was two years before this recession started. We have well over 500 dealerships represented here, well over 1,300 dealer attendees — 1,700 people total — and in excess of 170 vendors presenting their wares to you on our show floor.”
Street identified the epic weather-related challenges of 2011 throughout the U.S. as one of several obstacles the industry faced this past year, in addition to a rocking economy, world debt and resultant chaotic stock market.
“The weather is often used as an excuse for poor performance, but in 2011 this excuse was fully justified,” he said. “The weather had the same effect on all of our businesses last year, no matter where we lived.”
But 400-employee Stag and its customers persevered for the most part, said Street, even though most didn’t achieve the goals outlined at last year’s Stag event. While the industry was predicting a 4% uptick, Street explained, Stag was looking for a 10% hike in 2011 sales.
“I have to tell you that we didn’t make it, despite all of our efforts,” he added. “But we came close. It’s thanks to many of you in the room who not only defied the odds during 2011, but beat them back soundly, which caused us to almost achieve our target. Despite the recession, the economy and the weather, a number of you posted double-digit increases in sales of parts and accessories for the year.
“For the rest of you asking how they achieved this, the answer is simple: They were not prepared to stand still. They were prepared to change both their approach to marketing, their businesses and pricing their products — product displays, product selection, inventory, promotions and other aspects of their businesses.”
Honored at the convention were six suppliers that earned Stag’s “Peach” awards: Camco Manufacturing Inc., Greensboro, N.C.; Winegard Co., Burlington, Iowa; Progressive Manufacturing Inc., West Lebanon, N.H.; Dicor Corp., Elkhart, Ind.; Torklift International, Sumner, Wash.; Westland Sales, Clackamas Ore.