Dealers and suppliers took over the 30,000-square-foot ballroom at the Treasure Island Resort last week in Red Wing, Minn., despite the harsh cold.
Initially, 151 dealers signed up to attend, but due to the sudden winter storm, the number went down to 139, which is still a minor increase from 2017.
But that didn’t stop dealers from arriving early to get deals done quickly.
Northern Wholesale General Manager John Perron reports that dealers arrived a day earlier to prepare for the sales seminars on Wednesday, Jan. 10, and later for the show that evening.
“It used to be more of a preview night, people looking around,” said Perron. “We had dealers going in an hour earlier to place orders.”
Click here for a photo gallery of some of the vendors and presenters at the event.
For the past few years, Perron has wanted to make it clear that the Northern Wholesale show is “open for business” come Wednesday night. It seems to have worked.
“Dealers came in ready to go,” said Perron. Vendors that were at their booths early before they needed to be closed sales with dealers before the show opened. “I walked around and, sure enough, there’s dealers at booths getting their orders keyed in.”
The number of vendor booths was the same as last year, but some of that was due to mergers and acquisitions by companies like Valterra which added Go Power!, Minder Research, and Diamond Group under its wing in 2017. 3X had its own both until it became part of AP Products. Dometic, which was the premier sponsor of the show, grew from four booths to six.
Attendees also noticed the recent facelift Treasure Island has undergone.
“I remember us maxing-out the rooms there at one point. Vendors had to stay at another hotel in Red Wing,” said Perron. “But then they added a 200-room wing, and they’ve done that again since last year.”
Almost 200 individuals signed up for the seminars this year. Products can change year-to-year, and with it a slew of technical changes, said Perron.
“High-tech gas appliances that need to have this flow, or that regulation,” he said, listing a variety of important reasons why to attend a seminar.
And after a lot of the work was done, dealers and suppliers sat down for games of Texas Hold ’em, and went up several flights to Club Mondo – a makeshift gathering spot of hotel suites connected together for playing games.
Perron mentioned how, at the then-National RV Trade Show, people were too far dispersed to bond and network on the level the Northern Show offers.
“I know that there’s best friends – dealers and vendor customers – that met at either a Northern event or at our show eight years ago, and now they go to each other’s open house every year or buy their product exclusively,” he said. “It’s neat to see. … Next thing you know, they’re planning a fishing trip together.”