LAS VEGAS — Suppliers attending the Arrow Distributing Show in Las Vegas this week are looking a bit tired, but all are claiming this year’s show season was very successful. In fact, all of the suppliers interviewed by RV Daily Report said that each of the shows this spring were better than expected.
Chris Polley, a manufacturer’s representative for Tom Manning Associates, said he was very pleased with each of the shows he has attended this year, and that RV dealers appeared to be very optimistic going into the spring show season.
The largest show, sponsored last week by NTPStag, attracted 2,000 people from more than 900 dealerships, he said, adding that orders appeared to be strong from all events.
Bob Brammer, president of Stromberg Carlson, said orders were up at every show he participated in, which was surprising considering the company enjoyed the best December in its history.
“We were up so much in December, followed by a very good January, and all indications are that this will sustain through spring,” he explained. “I am worried a bit about Labor Day through the election. Whether it is because of all the negative talk or uncertainty, people seem to pull back on spending before the election. But, once that’s over, regardless of who is elected, they bounce right back.
Donna Warr, national sales manager for Valterra Products, attributed a rise in sales to a variety of new products the company introduced in recent months. Having the extra SKUs to add to orders make it easier to buy from distributors.
“Show attendance was up across the board,” she explained. “We’re looking at record-breaking levels in show sales.”
New products introduced at the distributor shows also impacted sales for Winegard, said Erik Guldager, national sales manager. In fact, he said the company exceeded its goals at the NTPStag show.
“We have so many new products that sales from the distributor shows were very good for us,” he explained. “Some of the products won’t be available for sale until March or April, but dealers were excited about what we showed them and placed some good orders.”
This year’s distributor shows blew away last year’s sales numbers, said Todd Vice, RV and marine sales manager for Walex Products. He attended five shows in January alone.
“I think dealers are adding new locations and increasing inventory at their stores because they expect a great year,” he explained. “Dealers are making changes to their business as the industry continues growing. We sold 15 point-of-purchase displays at this year’s shows.”
John Hawkins, with BAL, said he was impressed with dealer optimism so early in the season. But, he is concerned that dealer orders of RV could pose a problem this year.
“I’m not concern the economy will dictate a downturn in the industry,” he explained. “But, I am concerns that dealers could force a downturn because they aren’t ordering RVs like they normally do.”
Dealer optimism is encouraging for suppliers, he added. But, if dealer inventory on the lot isn’t enough to meet expected demand, consumers could face shortages when they are ready to buy RVs, like they did in 2014.
The Arrow Distributing Show is the last of the major wholesale shows of the year.