Stag-Parkway Inc. celebrated its 25th anniversary of hosting national trade shows Jan. 12-15 in San Juan Puerto Rico. According to a press release, guests were treated to a variety of special events including RV University, two receptions and a breakfast keynote from Medal of Honor winner Dakota Meyer.
“We wanted to make the 25th year special for our customers and suppliers so we decided to try something different and to have the event in Puerto Rico. I’m very pleased to say that our choice of venue more than lived up to our expectations,” stated president CEO Martin Street. “When you host an opening reception and you see over 1,700 people – dealers, suppliers, Stag employees and special guests – playing our treasure hunt, visiting with each other and generally having a great time, you know you’ve delivered something special to the market.”
Overall dealer attendance was up this year. “We knew the island would be a great draw for a lot of our customers but even we were surprised at how quickly our two hotels filled up,” said Street. “We ended up having to take rooms at a third hotel to accommodate all of our guests. The people that I talked to were genuinely impressed with the choice of venue, our programs and our show pricing.
“Admittedly, we came to Puerto Rico to shake things up a bit but didn’t anticipate Mother Nature helping us kick off our event. Once the rattled nerves following Monday night’s earthquake had settled, everyone got back into the spirit of the event and a good time was had by everyone there. Our Tuesday evening event, co-sponsored by Blue Ox and the Rums of Puerto Rico, was one of the best we’ve ever had.”
Branded as “Driving Success,” the Stag-Parkway show is the largest, RV aftermarket specific event in North America specializing in preseason buying opportunities and dealer education. “This year we had over 1,100 people from over 400 dealerships in attendance and almost 500 of those attending took part in RV University where we focused on product training and PRO business development and retail training topics,” said John Spaulding, senior vice president, marketing. “We will be adding 12 additional seminars to PRO this year bringing the total number of free educational programs to over 60 by year’s end. This year’s training focuses on Customer Acquisition, Customer Retention and Customer Influence.”
The trade show itself was the largest in Stag-Parkway history. “We were exceptionally excited about our response this year from the supply community,” stated Spaulding. “We had over 160 exhibiting companies in attendance, 14 of which were first time exhibitors. We managed the show a little differently this year recognizing the time change and the obvious draw of Puerto Rico’s beaches, historic sites and culture and it work out extremely well. The show floor was active throughout the event which we capped off on Wednesday afternoon with a drawing for a trip for two to Costa Rica. Needless to say, we had a nice crowd on the floor until the end.”
According to Street, “Driving Success” provides a good barometer for the coming year. Based on his early assessment of the show results, “2014 promises to be a good one for Stag-Parkway.” During the event Stag-Parkway announced the location for its 2015 show – The Mirage in Las Vegas, Jan. 19-21.
The RV industry’s 2014 national agenda is getting under way this week with two major league events – Stag-Parkway Inc.’s 25th Annual National Trade Show, Sunday through Wednesday (Jan. 12-15) at the Puerto Rico Convention Center in San Juan, and the Florida RV Trade Association’s (FRVTA) 29th Annual 2014 Florida RV SuperShow taking place Wednesday through Sunday at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa.
And the initial reports are all good from San Juan, a “special” moment for Atlanta-based Stag, the nation’s largest aftermarket parts and accessories distributor, which convened a dealer show with 157 exhibitors, 1,100 dealer personnel — 450 businesses represented in all — and a total of 1,700 attendees including exhibitors and Stag’s own staff.
“Yes, very special,” John Spaulding, senior vice president of marketing, told RVBUSINESS.com. “We started out as a real small national show in Texas 25 years ago and over that time we’ve progressively grown into an event that requires 80,000 square feet of exhibit space that we can pretty much own to run our educational programs and breakout rooms for special events. And holding it here in Puerto Rico’s a pretty special way to mark that anniversary.”
Spaulding added that when Stag first went into the show business 25 years ago, it did so with about 250 suppliers, 30 of whom are in San Juan this week. “So, we’ve got a long history of people who have been doing business with us and staying with us, which is one of the reasons that I think we have such a successful relationship with our suppliers and why people like coming to our event,” said Spaulding. “We have 14 companies exhibiting for the first time in Puerto Rico, and we believe that this venue had a lot to do with their interest in coming here.”
San Juan aside, Spaulding said Stag has indeed participated in the industry’s national upswing and posted an admirable 2013 in terms of sales, although financials for the privately held company are not released.
So, how well did Stag do last year?
“There are two ways to answer that question,” said Spaulding. “We’re owned by a private equity company (Linsalata Capital Partners Inc.), and our owners are very satisfied with the growth that we’ve delivered in 2013. We hit our projected numbers and they’re very pleased with their decision to purchase us in 2012.
“This year (2014) started out great. We’re exceeding our numbers in December and we know after looking at what this event’s going to pull in that we’ll have no problem exceeding our goals for January. And we’re expecting the same kind of growth in 2014 that we had in 2013.”
Spaulding, for his part, said that Stag will continue to focus on its educational programs in the year ahead. “We feel like there is a lot of retail business yet to be captured — business that is being captured in other market spaces like big box retailers, Camping World and those kind of places that, if our dealers were merchandising better, inventorying their parts better, having better POP (point of purchase) programs, using their software in their stores more efficiently to manage inventory, all of us would succeed.
“So our focus in 2014, as its been for the last four years, is education and making ourselves and our staff and our merchandising teams available to help. Any dealer who wants help to refresh their store, to improve the efficiency in their stores and drive profitability in their stores, we’re here to help.”
During the event, President and CEO Martin Street along with Stag’s senior management bestowed glass-blown “Peach Awards” from the internationally known Frabel Studio in Atlanta in the heart of the Peach State, upon its five top-performing supplier partners, including: Progress Manufacturing Inc., Provo, Utah; Stromberg-Carlson Products Inc., Traverse City, Mich.; TRC Electronics Inc, Montgomeryville, Pa.; Air Lift Co., Lansing, Mich.; Phoenix Products Co. Inc., Milwaukee; and AP Products Inc., Coldwater, Mich.
Atlanta-based Stag-Parkway Inc. has promoted Tony Diaz to the position of regional sales manager for the Western region, according to a press release.
Diaz is a 19-plus year veteran of the RV industry, beginning with Stag as a warehouse employee in Southern California and eventually working his way up to inside sales consultant in its call center. He then took his experience to the dealer side, working as a parts manager for La Mesa RV for nine years. Feeling that he needed to be knowledgeable of all sides of the industry, he then worked for Blue Ox as the outside sales rep for the Western states, winning “Salesman of the Year” in 2011.
STAG welcomed Diaz back in 2012 where he grew his region in the Southeast as an outside sales consultant and garnered respect from his colleagues “due to his can-do nature and affable personality.”
His recent move will see him responsible for managing a team of outside sales consultants in Arizona, California, Oregon and Washington.
Stag-Parkway Inc. has promoted Bob Barra to senior vice president of sales, according to a press release. Barra, who most recently served as vice president of sales for Stag’s eastern division, has replaced Craig Mellor who served as the Atlanta-based company’s senior vice president of sales.
Mellor has assumed the role of senior sales adviser and will be helping Barra transition into the senior vice president of sales position and also help train STAG’s sales staff, maintain dealer relationships, and expand STAG’s presence in the market.
Barra joined STAG in 2004 as Regional Sales Manager for the Midwest region. In 2008, he led his region to STAG’s prestigious Region of the Year award. In 2008 and 2011, Barra also won STAG’s Peak Performer awards. In 2011, he was promoted to Division VP of Sales.
Stag also announced the promotion of Laura Mallary to the position of regional sales manager for the northeastern region.
Mallary served as call center manager for more than 10 years prior to her recent promotion and will now be responsible for managing a team of outside sales consultants in the northeast.
Stag said Mallary has consistently been recognized for her team leadership, dedication and industry knowledge by winning STAG’s Peak Performer sales award six times. “Her relationships with dealers throughout the mid-Atlantic and New England will be a tremendous asset to Stag Parkway in their efforts to grow STAG’s business in the northeast,” the release stated.
During Stag-Parkway’s annual Driving Success trade show, Progress Manufacturing Inc. was recognized with one of six hand-blown Peach Awards for 2013.
According to a press release, it marked the third time Progress Manufacturing has earned the honor since becoming a supplier to Stag-Parkway in 2004. The Peach Award demonstrates “a manufacturer’s commitment to wholesale distribution and the RV industry.”
Martin Street, CEO of Stag-Parkway, noted, “This company’s leadership has a reputation as consummate professionals, personable and excellent communicators. They work tirelessly training and supporting our field sales force and ardently defend their brand and its value proposition in the market.”
“We are honored to receive a third Peach Award,” said Rich Elliott, sales manager for Progress Manufacturing. “This is a result of an attitude of continual improvement. We are truly grateful and appreciate our partnership with Stag-Parkway. They have great employees and they are wonderful to do business with.”
Progress Manufacturing, makers of The Original Equal-i-zer Sway Control hitch, supplies sway control hitches and other trailer accessories to the RV industry through its Equal-i-zer and Fastway brands. For more information about the company call (800) 478-5578 or visit their websites, www.EqualizerHitch.com and www.FastwayTrailer.com.
Anchoring the general session during Stag Parkway Inc.’s Jan. 15-17 “Driving Success” dealer meeting, President and CEO Martin Street revealed details concerning the Atlanta-based company’s sale to a private equity firm last December while purporting the collective benefits for its dealer partners.
Addressing around 1,100 dealer personnel at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas – representing a record turnout – Street highlighted the strengths of its new parent, Linsalata Capital. Stag also reported that 150 exhibitors were on hand for the meeting, displaying product on the expansive show floor.
“As I’m sure you have all seen, in December last year we were acquired by Linsalata Capital – a private equity company – from our previous owners Ares Capital,” said Street, who joined the distributor five years ago. “Lin-Cap, as it is known, is a company that specializes in owning logistics and distribution companies and so I am looking forward to the help that they can provide us, to continue with our growth plans, and to advise us on best practices that we will be able to incorporate into our current business model.”
Street acknowledged the takeover was a protracted and involved process, noting tongue-in-cheek, “At one time or another during last year I think we heard rumors that just about everyone in this room was buying us.”
He added, “Bottom line is Lin-Cap accepted that the RV industry was a great industry to be in because it has potential for growth. And they bought Stag because they believe that we can grow beyond where we currently are. They believed we are financially sound and have the infrastructure to grow. They believe, because we talked to them about our competition and they independently confirmed our views, that we are stronger than the competition and have better marketing plans for the future.”
Street also spoke to Stag’s recent expansion into the Canadian aftermarket with the opening of a warehouse facility in Brampton, Ontario, a suburb of Toronto.
“We have more than 7,000 items available there, two dedicated salespeople serving that market and plans to bring the entire portfolio of STAG services to Canada in the coming year,” he related. “…Expanding our market presence to the north is a natural extension of our growth plans. We very much look forward to working more closely with our customers there and believe our service levels, marketing and merchandising programs will be a welcome addition to the services they currently have access to.”
During the general session, Stag announced that long-time executive Craig Mellor would be stepping down from his responsibilities as senior vice president of sales to assume the role of senior sales advisor. Bob Barra, who previously served as regional sales manager and Eastern divisional vice president of sales, was introduced as Mellor’s successor.
“I’m delighted that we are able to promote from within to replace Craig and take someone who has developed and grown with Stag for many years and allow him the scope to help to continue to drive our business forward,” said Street.
As part of the gathering, Stag also recognized its key business partners with the traditional Peach Award. Recipients included Stromberg Carlson Products Inc., Winegard Co., RV Designer Collection, Progress Manufacturing Inc., SHURflo and Carmanah Industries.
Stag-Parkway has expanded its market coverage into Canada by opening warehouse operations in Brampton, Ontario. According to a news release, the warehouse location will give STAG the ability to provide next day service to southern Ontario and Western Quebec. The Canadian warehouse will initially stock more than 7,000 items and can accommodate the same inventory profile as the largest STAG facility in the U.S.
“The move to Canada was a logical one for us,” states Martin Street, president and CEO of Atlanta-based STAG. “We have been servicing RV dealers in Canada for several years from our northern warehouse locations in the U.S. While we have been competitive doing so, we see an even bigger opportunity in Canada by being physically located there. We look forward to working with Canadian RV dealers and see this launch as a way to reinforce our commitment to serving them in the future.”
To support the sales effort in Canada, STAG has hired two salespeople. “Servicing the market effectively means having feet on the street,” commented Craig Mellor, senior vice president of sales. “We knew going in that we would need professional sales people from Canada spearheading our sales effort. We feel very fortunate to have found Christian Fauteux and Gordon Edgar to fill that role. They both have sales tenure in other markets which complements our approach to bringing a broader perspective of retailing to our customers.”
Fauteux and Edgar have completed their initial round of product and industry training with an extensive in-the-field program conducted by STAG’s U.S. sales team. According to Mellor, “Their experiences in Canada and working with retailers throughout the region will provide valuable insight and direction to ensure we treat the Canadian market and its dealers as unique with unique needs.”
Other plans for Canada include the introduction of a Canadian version of the BIG Book in 2013 as well as making available a variety of marketing and merchandising programs to Canadian dealers. “We want to be a full-service distributor in Canada,” says John Spaulding, senior vice president of marketing. “That includes making available our Complete Merchandising program, our direct mail and custom imprint programs as well as our B2B and B2C offerings. All of which will be rolled out over the next 12-18 months.”
Canadian dealers interested in learning more about STAG can call (800) 765-7824.
Linsalata Capital Partners, a Cleveland-based private equity firm, announced that it has acquired Stag-Parkway Inc. from Ares Capital Corp. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
According to a press release, Stag-Parkway’s senior management team invested alongside Linsalata Capital. Stag-Parkway CEO Martin Street noted, “Our team is excited to partner with LinCap and leverage their distribution expertise as we accelerate our strategic growth initiatives in 2013 and beyond.”
Headquartered in Atlanta, Stag-Parkway is the largest aftermarket distributor of recreational vehicle parts and accessories in North America serving as a link between a diverse base of 6,000 customers and over 600 suppliers. Stag-Parkway also offers next-day delivery to areas covering 95% of the U.S. population.
Stephen B. Perry, co-president and senior managing director at Linsalata Capital Partners, stated, “Stag-Parkway is an excellent opportunity for us to build on our previous experience investing with industry leading distribution companies. We are excited about the prospects for the business going forward.”
“Martin Street has developed a deep and talented management team building a company based on customer service and a dedication to helping their customers enhance performance”, added Michael J. Faremouth, principal at Linsalata Capital Partners. “We like niche aftermarket sectors and are excited about the opportunity to continue growing the business through internal initiatives and potential acquisitions.”
To support its sales effort in Canada, Stag-Parkway has hired Gordon Edgar and Christian Fauteux as outside sales consultants.
“Servicing the market effectively means having feet on the street,” said Craig Mellor, senior vice president of sales, in a press release. “We knew going in that we would need professional salespeople from Canada spearheading our sales effort. We feel very fortunate to have found Christian Fauteux and Gordon Edgar to fill that role.
“Their experiences in Canada and working with retailers throughout the region will provide valuable insight and direction to ensure we treat the Canadian market and its dealers as unique with unique needs.” Fauteux comes to Stag-Parkway with 10 years of sales and sales management experience in consumer electronics working for Cerwin-Vega, Polk Audio and Logitech. Fauteux will have primary responsibility for eastern Ontario and western Quebec.
Edgar joins Stag-Parkway after 20 years of sales experience in consumer and industrial goods working for Home Depot, Home Hardware, Sears, PetSmart, Boeing, Timex and Wal-Mart. Edgar will have primary responsibility for western and northern Ontario.
Stag-Parkway’s Professional Retail Organization (PRO), a dealer continuing education program now in its third year, has seen a 75% increase in the number of certified dealerships.
In 2010, 56 dealerships became certified compared with over 225 certified dealerships as of Aug. 1, 2012, according to a press release. Registration in PRO has also increased significantly with over 1,200 dealer personnel now registered representing 743 dealerships.
Enrollment in PRO is free and dealers must successfully complete four online tests their first year to become certified and another two tests every year thereafter to retain their certification. Twelve webinars are offered every year via RV University along with quarterly webinars. All webinars and supporting materials are archived on www.stagparkway.com so that dealers can complete them at their own pace and convenience.
Stag-Parkway said that PRO curriculum is designed to “expand a dealership’s understanding of key areas in their business and give them practical tools to help them run successful dealerships.” Since it was introduced in 2010, PRO training has included modules on merchandising, marketing, customer experiences, social media, customer relationship management, retail technology, search engine optimization and consumer behavior.
Certified dealers receive a special PRO certificate and window decal, free RV University admission for the certified attendee valued at $149 and 10% off imprinted catalogs, flyers and the annual MagniFinder subscription.
To register for the PRO education program, contact your STAG sales consultant.