As part of the Elkhart Open House, eight RV supplier brands from six companies joined forces to present their own gathering, billed as the “Supplier Showcase” at 3050 County Road 6 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Sept. 22-24.
The idea for the event came from BAL/Norco RV Products Aftermarket Sales Manager John Hawkins, whose company is hosting the Showcase.
In addition to BAL RV Products, Demco Towing Products, Torklift, Thetford/Norcold, Winegard and Progress Manufacturing’s Equal-i-zer Hitch and Fastway Trailer Products will participate in the event.
Hawkins said he’s been considering a supplier addition to Open House for the past three years.
“I’ve seen the number count of people milling around Elkhart that week is around 4,000, and if you’ve got that many people and you’re not doing something to capture some face time with them, then you’re really missing the boat,” he said.
After gauging interest from other suppliers and talking to OEMs, he decided this year could be a litmus test to gauge dealers’ interest in suppliers.
“We decided we’d stick our toe in and see how it works and see what kind of turnout we get,” he said.
The companies participating in the inaugural event all have close ties to RV manufacturers as well as the aftermarket, and Hawkins said that was an important factor when choosing which suppliers would participate.
“We don’t want to take anything away from what the OEMs are doing,” he said. “We want to find a way to fit in and complement what the OEMs are doing.”
The group is hoping to provide a convenient place for dealers to stop by and talk to suppliers, and learn about new products since they’re in the neighborhood.
“The biggest thing is the dealers have the opportunity to learn about new products,” Hawkins said. “So we’ll have people on-hand to give them more information on products.”
Torklift will showcase its GlowStep Revolution Challenge at the event with a double-entry trailer so dealers can compare traditional entry steps to the company’s new step system.
For Thetford, the company is hoping to meet with dealers and showcase its latest point-of-sale displays, according to Director of Marketing Andy Bialorucki.
“Like the others, we value our dealer relationships and look forward to re-connecting with them in Elkhart,” Bialorucki said. “We’ll talk together about new programs and point-of-sale displays that can help make 2016 profitable for them.”
In addition to exploring new products, dealers can participate in prize a drawing, which includes a $600 gift card, as well as lunch and refreshments on Sept. 22-23.
Hawkins said individual suppliers would have product specials as well.
If the event goes well, next year’s Showcase could grow in size, according to Hawkins, but for the initial show, he and other suppliers were careful to keep the group at a manageable size.
“We wanted to be reasonable about what we tried, so it wasn’t a huge dollar amount for each of us individually,” he said. “But if it’s a success and we think we can expand on that, we do have the property to grow.”
For more information about the event, click here.