Attending Wholesale Events Like Keystone's BIG Show Can Lead To Success
It’s show season. And once again, Keystone Automotive Operations, the largest North American distributor of specialty auto products, offered its customers and the manufacturing community one of the most extensive wholesale-only buying opportunities in the industry. Known as the Keystone BIG Show, the event has grown in size, scope, quality, customer and manufacturer participation, as well as aftermarket influence, since its inception in 1999.
From the original venue in Secaucus, New Jersey, later expanded to Atlantic City, Keystone now hosts two first-class events annually. This year, the BIG Show was held in February at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. The March event took place at the Gaylord Texan in Dallas. "We’ve witnessed the show run out of floor space and outgrow the original venue in Secaucus,” said Mike Katz, national account manager at Werner Co. “Being the primary sponsor of the BIG Show in Dallas, (afforded) Weather Guard®/KNAACK® the opportunity to team up with Keystone and create an exciting marketing campaign leading up to and through the event.”
How Continued Growth Benefits Attendees
Regardless the size of a business or its focus -- off-road, truck accessory or performance -- the BIG Show covers it all. “There’s something for everyone, from a mom-and-pop shop to a large retail chain,” said Chuck Morrison IV, family partner at Truck’n America in Waldorf, Maryland. “The BIG Shows happen at the perfect time of year when new vehicles and products are being released. We’re able to gather market information, build our inventory for the remainder of the year, and get our shelves stocked nicely after the winter,” he added.
Hundreds of the industry’s top manufacturers exhibit at the BIG Shows to share current trends, as well as showcase new vehicles, product releases and applications. Bestop, TrailFX, Edelbrock, Magnaflow and Mickey Thompson were among the many recognizable names in attendance. Others, such as Black Mountain Jeep®, are new to the BIG Show scene and used it as a platform to garner support for their brand and to meet retailers.
Kurt Gassen, owner of Topper World Truck Accessories, Gretna, Louisiana, was looking to expand his Jeep product lineup. “We’re working on a custom Jeep build, so the show is very beneficial to learn about new and existing products from an install standpoint and get others’ opinions. We purchased Black Mountain Jeep products for the first time, and they went out of their way to send us a thank you and some merchandise,” said Gassen. Such acts of appreciation embody what the BIG Show represents: an opportunity to learn, interact and grow together long term.
Thousands of fellow Keystone customers, their families and employees attended the events to take advantage of the impressive manufacturer presence, show specials, giveaways and cash incentives, business-building, networking and in-store merchandising opportunities, as well as custom vehicles and celebrity appearances.
“My favorite aspect of the show as a manufacturer is being able to directly influence and capture the sale with the jobber by showcasing new, innovative products, providing product knowledge and demonstrations, as well as offering exciting promotions the day of the show,” said Katz.
Additionally, the shows offered retailers an outlet to connect with other professionals, enjoy the exciting atmosphere, and meet the sales and management teams committed to customer business growth.
“It’s a great opportunity to get out from behind the counter, meet the people you’re doing business with and put a face with a name,” said Morrison.
Gassen believes the BIG Shows provide an opportunity for retailers to connect personally and professionally, share best business practices and engage with manufacturers the old-fashioned way: face-to-face. He made an important connection, critical to his business short and long term. “Personal relationships go further than price points,” said Gassen.
We couldn’t agree more. Customer attendance is at the very core of BIG Show success. On behalf of Keystone and all participating manufacturers, our sincere gratitude for their commitment and enthusiasm for this exciting industry, our company and the continued success of the Keystone BIG Shows.