Northern Wholesale Marks ‘Best-Ever’ Show

Dealers turned out strong for the show, the event drew the most exhibitors ever and the distributor said show orders were up about 30 percent over the previous best show.

Northern Wholesale Supply’s 2021 RV SuperShow was one for the record books.

First, it marked the Minnesota-based distributor’s 35th annual show. More importantly, it marked the best-ever show in terms of orders placed, according to Dean Kruchten, Northern Wholesale’s director of sales and marketing.

“It was the best year ever for Northern Wholesale – with sales up about 30 percent over the previous best year, which was 2020,” he said.

Kruchten attributed the sales increase in part to a strong dealer turnout at the show, held at the Treasure Island Resort & Casino in Red Wing, Minn.

“Dealers told us they enjoyed the return of an in-person show,” he said, noting that in 2020 the distributor switched to a virtual format because of COVID-19. “Dealers were happy to be there, interested in visiting with exhibitors and very interested in seeing new products.”

While an exact dealer count was not immediately available, Kruchten said he believes it was roughly on par with Northern Wholesale’s 2019 event. Plus, Northern Wholesale welcomed 35 new dealers to its 2021 show, which Kruchten described as a very positive indicator, particularly given that the COVID pandemic of 2020 has not totally receded.

Just as importantly, he said those dealers in attendance came ready to buy, ordering plenty of product in anticipation of another strong selling season in 2022.

“Dealers are anticipating a strong year. They know, with a certain degree of confidence, how many units they are going to get and how many they can sell,” he said. “And with supply chain challenges, they wanted to make sure they have the (parts) inventory in stock.”

Northern Wholesale
Northern Wholesale’s show is all business, but the relaxed atmosphere allows for plenty of face-to-face interaction.

For its part, Northern Wholesale has taken a number of proactive steps – including stocking up early on inventory and adding more than 110,000 square feet of warehouse space – in order to make sure it can keep up with dealers’ increased demand for products, according to Kruchten.

“We’re feeling really good about our ability to get orders filled. One of the things we’ve noticed is that dealers are looking to take inventory earlier than in past years and we’ve done a really good job of getting in front of it and ordering ahead of the show,” he said.

Yet another positive development for the 2021 show, Kruchten said, was that Northern Wholesale added about 10 exhibitors, filling the exhibit hall. Additionally, he noted that the dozen or so educational seminars hosted by vendors drew good-sized dealer audiences.

Summing up the 2021 distributor show, Kruchten said, “We thought it went well. We got very positive feedback from both dealers and suppliers.”

While Northern Wholesale’s shows have something of a reputation for being casual and relaxed, exhibitors told RV PRO they were pleased with the dealer foot traffic at their booths and also with orders placed at the show.

Jordan Harvell, a representative for Torklift, said his company always does well at Northern Wholesale, in part because his company’s aftermarket truck camper products are popular with the many dealers in Minnesota and the surrounding upper Midwest states who sell truck campers.

Meanwhile, at the Bling Sauce booth, dealer traffic was constant during the show.

Northern Wholesale show
The booth for RV cleaning products provider Bling Sauce enjoyed continuous dealer traffic during Northern’s two-day show. Company partner and National Sales Manager Fred Scuncio (center) is pictured here talking with dealers about the company’s products.

Bling Sauce partner and National Sales Manager Fred Scuncio said the company’s Hot Sauce RV cleaning products were a hit with dealers, who appreciated the product’s bright, eye-catching retail packaging, as well as the fact that the company enforces minimum advertised pricing on its products.

“We’re really happy with the reception we received because the RV market has not been a big focus for us until now,” said Scuncio, noting the company got its start in the marine market about 10 years ago. The company has sold its RV cleaning products through Northern for a while, but this was the first time the company had a booth at the show, Scuncio said.

Northern Wholesale
Northern Wholesale already has the next show this year on the books for December.

John Hawkins, aftermarket sales manager with BAL, said the Northern Wholesale show has long been a good one for his company based upon the number of orders dealers placed.

“It’s typically a high-buying show, even though it’s not as large as some other distributor shows,” he said.

Likewise, Raymond Padgett, managing partner of rep firm ARC Representation & Consulting, said he was pleased with the dealer traffic and orders being placed with companies his firm was representing, including Ultra-Fab and NSA RV Products, which was new to Northern Wholesale’s show.

“Northern’s show always attracts a lot of customers that don’t come to the bigger shows, so it’s worthwhile for us to be here,” he added.

Also new to Northern Wholesale’s show was Roadmaster. National Sales Manager Eric Jason said he was pleased with dealers’ interest in the company’s towing-related products, particularly its new tow bar merchandising display.

A number of exhibitors used the Northern Wholesale show to highlight new products, including Pace International, which was showcasing its pay-as-you-go Wi-Fi product, the Travlfi Journey1.

“We launched it recently, so the timing was good for us to be here,” said Sam Schell, Pace senior vice president of business development, who noted dealers viewing the product were very receptive to the Wi-Fi system.

Harry Allen, representing Kuma Outdoor Gear, said dealers were very interested in the Canadian company’s high-end camping products, particularly its new Yoho Bamboo Butterfly Chair.

“The reception to it has been phenomenal,” he said.

Although Northern Wholesale is not the largest distributor show, it has always been worthwhile to attend, which is why the most recent Northern Wholesale show marked Allen’s 35th one in his 50-plus-year career in the RV industry representing various suppliers.

For their part, dealers told RV PRO they found a lot of value in attending the show.

Mick Ferkey, president of Greeneway RV in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., said he’s been attending the Northern Wholesale show for years because of the good show pricing, the relaxed feel of the show, and the opportunity to network with his fellow Midwest dealers.

Northern Wholesale show
Thetford team members are pictured with the company’s four-wheel Titan Tote product and the Best New Product award the company received from Northern Wholesale, following secret ballot voting by Northern dealers.

Dave Pearo, who is a co-owner of Hilltop Camper and RV in Minnesota and is the parts and service director for the dealership group, says his company’s relationship with Northern Wholesale has grown over the past 25 years.

“Well, a couple of reasons for that. They’re local, close to our main store. The second reason is the relationships we’ve built over the years,” he says. “They’ve always taken good care of us.”

Perhaps the only damper on the recent RV SuperShow was that, with a heavy snowstorm bearing down on the southeastern part of Minnesota, where the show was held, on the second day of the two-day show, Kruchten said some dealers decided to cut their stay at Treasure Island short and leave that afternoon to get ahead of the bad weather. Still, dealers made sure their orders were locked in before departing, he added.

With another successful show under its belt, Kruchten said Northern Wholesale has already begun planning for its next show, which is set to take place Dec. 7 and Dec. 8, 2022, at the Treasure Island Resort & Casino.





Bradley Worrell

Bradley Worrell is the editor of RV PRO Magazine.

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