NASHVILLE – Dealers and suppliers from across the U.S. gathered in loquacious clusters in the convention halls of the Gaylord Opryland hotel. Already the 2019 NTP-STAG Expo has been a success with pre-cart sales up 50 percent over last year. When 11:45 a.m. hit, the crowd funneled into the Presidential Ballroom for the Expo luncheon. As a preliminary to the show’s opening, the massive distributor gave a rundown on the latest, including its move into a new market expedited delivery to match the expectations of today’s online shopper.
Bryan Fletcher, vice president of sales and marketing at Valterra, kicked off the event with some RV accessories-related trivia. Each correct answer was awarded with fluffy puppy dolls – an appropriate choice given NTP-STAG’s latest offering of pet products.
Statistically, the reasons are obvious for the distributor: RVing pet owners equate to 67 percent of the market. NTP-STAG’s latest partnerships in this venture include Expo sponsor Valterra, as well as Pet Comfort by Weathertech.
This was all in good fun as lunch was served and Bill Rogers, vice president and general manager of NTP-STAG, drove home the changes the distributor had recently undergone and were currently pursuing.
“New means change,” said Rogers. “You can either be received as suspect or resisted or accepted and celebrated. Most of us know that we have to try these things to stay relevant. Try new things to attract customers. Try new things to make money.”
To sum it up, along with the new pet accessory suppliers, Rogers said: “New has to be the discomfort that we embrace to be better.”
NTP-STAG is not only embracing the changes to the industry but taking measures to be ahead of the curve.
Last year, the company opened its second-largest distribution center, about 450,000 square feet, in Eastvale, Calif., boasting more than 44 million in product. Meanwhile, its Austell, Ga., location added 200,000 square feet of space. The improvements help NTP-STAG’s new form of partnerships with Coleman-Mach air conditioning and Grand Design RV where in-stock parts will improve repair event cycle times (RECT) by two weeks.
“We are now fulfilling warranty products on manufacturer requests,” Rogers told the audience, “and getting products where they need to be faster than ever before. This new strategy is timely and effective in helping solve an industry-wide problem RECT.”
Rogers discussed other areas of improvement within the store to ramp up add-on sales via alternating store layouts to keep away from being static, including impulse-buy products, and category additions like portable lighting and pet products. Another emerging aspect included subscription services.
“One of the new opportunities we’re featuring at this year’s show is the Dish (TV) subscription services program,” said Rogers. “Planograms and end caps and standalone displays makes selling these services easier than ever.”
As lunch concluded, the dealers prepared for what would be a very busy day making deals with an unprecedented energy consuming the Expo floor. A gallery of the show will appear on RV PRO this week.