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Wearables Business

Show Wars

Show Wars – Advertising Specialty Institute and Promotional Products Association Internnational vie for promotional products industry trade show market

Jeff Rundles

PPAI, ASI square off for trade show — and industry — supremacy

Back in the halcyon days for the promotional products industry — before 1998 — everything was easy. The Promotional Products Association International, the national not-for-profit industry trade association, held the massive Winter Show in Dallas and a smaller Summer Show in August at various locations around the country.

Most of the 29 regional associations held their own shows throughout the year, ranging from tabletop exhibitions for such small associations as the Rocky Mountain Region PPA in Copper Mountain, Colo., to the large SAAGNY Show in Atlantic City.

The world seemed ordered. PPAI did the typical trade association stuff — held national shows, published a magazine for its members, oversaw industry education programs — and the regional associations took care of business in their own neighborhoods. Some suppliers and distributors are members of both the national organization and a regional, while others opt for one or the other. The regionals, while often carrying similar names, are not officially connected with PPM.

Throughout all of this, the for-profit Advertising Specialty Institute, ASI, was a great supporter of PPM, and it operated its traditional businesses: the ASI numbering service which enabled listed distributors and suppliers to find each other, credit reporting services, and a magazine of its own, The Counselor.

Then about a week after the Winter Show in Dallas in January of 1998, a sort of Pearl Harbor sneak attack took place. It has proven to be, like Pearl Harbor, the first salvo in a long, drawn-out war for domination: ASI announced that it would re-enter the trade show business after a 30-year absence. ASI simultaneously hired two top trade show officials away from PPAI — Director of Expositions Marty Upton and Manager of Expositions Beverly Freeman.

PPAI should have known something was up. Before getting back into the trade show business, ASI had repeatedly made overtures to PPM about running its shows and was turned away.

So the first modem-era ASI Show took place in mid-July, 1998, at the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas, and since then the industry’s leading service organizations have existed in a state of war.

The most visible manifestation of the war has been on the trade show front, with a mind-boggling broadside of new shows being launched by both sides. But the war itself has many fronts, and the stakes are high.

As PPAI President Steve Slagle put it in the August edition of the association’s magazine PPB: “While some may view the recent exchanges between ASI and PPAI as simply signs of a ‘dispute,’ or ‘just business,’ the reality is our members have a lot at stake…ASI’s most recent assault on the PPAI Expo is only the latest in a long list of activities that continue to challenge PPAI’s very existence.”

Stakes high for supppliers, distributors

The war between ASI and PPM is shaping up to be one that could be a fight to the finish of one organization or the other. Or, if history repeats itself, the combatants could battle for years, split the industry, then come to a truce that clearly defines the roles of each.

But the stakes are also high for suppliers and distributors in the promotional products industry.

Suppliers are already grumbling that there are too many shows, straining already tight trade show budgets to the maximum. And these sentiments were extant before the most recent announcements of yet more shows.

Distributors, too, may be hurt. Promotional products distributors, like suppliers, have only so much time and budget to apply to attending trade shows. And a proliferation of trade shows is bound to dilute the offerings, and therefore the business opportunities, of each.

This is especially true of the traditional regional shows, the grass-roots level of the industry where camaraderie and commerce really come together. With national associations vying for attention — and dollars — on more and more regional fronts, the local shows are already under attack and will likely continue to suffer.

Attack and counter attack

In many ways, the start of the war was not surprising. Before 1998, when PPAI had the show business pretty much to itself, many people felt that its management style was high-handed. Exhibitors and attendee-buyers alike had asked for some alterations in show policies, locations, show-floor configurations and hours, to little avail. There were also questions about whether PPAI was providing enough services to its association members, and there was little or no representation in the national group for the regional associations.

Almost immediately after ASI announced it intentions, however, things changed at PPAI. Officials admitted that that they weren’t as responsive to members needs as they could be, and the association has been busy ever since. There has been quite a push from PPAI on the electronic and Internet fronts with new products and services. The group also launched its own numbering system, UPIC (Universal Promotional Identity Code), a registration system that really mirrors the ASI system and is offered free to PPAI members and non-members.

ASI has been busy, too, drawing battle lines in electronic- and Internet-delivery products and services, as well as beefing up its offerings in the professional education arena. Indeed, where there were once relatively clear lines of demarcation defining the purpose of each organization’s day-to-day business, they have both been busy invading each other’s turf.

But is has been on the trade show front where most of the heavy fighting has taken place.

After running a successful first show in Las Vegas in mid-1998 (thanks in part to cut-rate booth space prices), ASI announced that it would hold two shows in 1999: in Las Vegas, but in March, and then in Chicago in July. Then ASI brought out the heavy artillery. In the fall of 1999, it announced that it would add a third show to its 2000 lineup, Orlando in late September, while keeping its two other locations and dates pretty much intact.

The war was on, but it got really bitter early this summer. ASI took the unprecedented step of sending a press release throughout the industry claiming that the PPAI shows and the organization’s magazine were for sale.

Not so, countered PPAI. Slagle, in response to the ASI action, told Wearables Business that the organization was not selling its shows or magazine, but rather floating an investment circular to ascertain the value of its assets. He admitted that PPAI may seek a “partner,” but added, “Clearly our intent is to maintain a presence in this industry and maintain our relationships with suppliers and distributors.”

The prospect of PPAI selling out to or partnering with a third party on its trade shows, and perhaps bringing more firepower to the battle in the form of capital resources, doesn’t seem to faze ASI.

“A new for-profit company (coming in) will reverse some of the decisions I think have been dumb,” says ASI Show President Matthew Cohn. “For example, allowing distributors to exhibit to solicit salespeople, PPAI’s recent decision to put all of their competitors in a restricted area off the show floor, and, of course, their decision to add an additional show.”

He adds, however, “There are many examples of trade show companies buying specialty trade shows and running them into the ground, so who knows what is really going to happen?”

At the same time PPAI was trying to douse the firestorm created by the ASI announcement of the sale activity, PPAI also changed some of its show rules. One significant rule change essentially removed ASI from the main show floor in Dallas, relegating it and other associate members to a restricted-access space in a dark corner of the Dallas Convention Center.

Not long after that announcement, ASI stunned everyone by moving its planned Orlando show from late September to January 4-5, 2001 — barely three weeks before the Dallas PPAI show. To accommodate people who had already booked reservations for September, ASI said it would cover any added expenses attendees or exhibitors would incur due to the schedule change.

Not to be outdone, a few weeks later PPAI announced that it, too, would hold a third trade show in 2001 in — you guessed it — Orlando.

In what increasingly looks like a contradiction, PPAI also announced early this year an “initiative” to reduce the number of shows in the industry. The plan, basically, was to partner with regional associations, grouping them together under the aegis of PPAI to have a “super regional” show. The participation so far from the regional associations, particularly the larger ones, has been scant. Moreover, by “net reduction in shows” PPAI apparently meant that two or three little regional tabletops would go dark for one year so that it could hold the super regionals. The plan calls for consolidating 24 shows into 16 within five years.

PPAI’s goal is to provide suppliers and distributors with a “show package” each year of larger joint shows and coordinated traveling booth shows. It is set up to give suppliers discounts on booth fees for participating in the full package.

Mingled in with all of this was jockeying for position. PPAI three years ago secured McCormick Place in Chicago for a July 2001 show, potentially hurting ASI, which could not secure the July dates it wants to make traditional. Undaunted, ASI simply struck back at PPM: the Chicago ASI Show for 2001 will be in McCormick in late May, just six weeks before PPAI’s.

When asked if the industry needs two shows in Chicago and Orlando in 2001, suppliers and distributors contacted by Wearables Business simply shrugged.

And there’s even more fallout. The Specialty Advertising Association of California, SAAC, which had traditionally partnered with PPAI on a Las Vegas Show every three years while holding its own smaller show in San Diego in the other two years, has abruptly severed its relationship with PPAI. Moreover, SAAC will now hold its own, expanded trade show each year at the Long Beach Convention Center, the first of which was held last month.

Also, the Specialty Advertising Association of Greater New York, SAAGNY, which holds the mega-regional show “Promotions East” in Atlantic City each June, has brought in four other regional associations as partners and is clearly looking to expand its trade-show reach.

The war of words

The ASI Show’s Cohn, a scion of the family which owns ASI, thinks his trade-show franchise is in no danger of losing ground to the competition.

“When I found out that PPAI was doing three shows and that that they had raised their (booth) prices by 50 percent, I thought they were out of their minds,” he tells Wearables Business. “I think this is a huge mistake. With their summer show already struggling, I have no idea why they think they will be able to get enough attendees to turn one struggling show into two good shows.”

But in one sense, perhaps, maybe Cohn thinks PPAI’s regional approach is on the right track. “There’s really nothing that’s a truly national show,” Cohn says. “The trend in trade shows is clear: people are very busy, very stressed and they go to shows which are closer to them. Dallas is a good show and it serves a purpose in the marketplace, but unless a supplier is only interested in reaching PPA distributor members in the central states, then the show isn’t for them. We appeal to people who don’t love to see the biggest booths, but rather want to see a range of product.”

Cohn maintains that the real measure of a show isn’t size per se, but rather buyer traffic. He argues that ASI spends as much on one of its shows to market it to distributors than PPAI spends to market all of its shows.

“Our goal is to provide a quality show experience,” he says. “You’ve got to have distributors in the aisles.”

Part of that response was a jab a the recent PPAI Promotions South Show in Atlanta, held in June, that didn’t draw well, perhaps signaling that the war is beginning to take its toll.

“I think (the Atlanta Show) suffered,” says Steve Slagle, PPAI president, in a recent interview with Wearables Business. “The attendance was down more than we wanted. We made the choice of Atlanta two-and-a-half years ago, before there was this level of competition, and it is very costly to change cities. That’s what one gets caught up in when the competitive landscape changes.”

Slagle, however, promises that PPAI is addressing these competitive concerns and will fight back on its future shows.

“I’m not at liberty to talk about some of the things we are planning to do, ” he says. “Our challenge is to have a level of distributor participation that makes it a good show. We are obviously going to change some things in the game plan.”

Force deployment

Most people view the rescheduling of the ASI show from September, 2000 to January, 2001 as a spiteful move done for no strategic reason, but rather specifically to play havoc with PPAI’s main event, The Expo in Dallas later in the month. ASI denies this.

“When I spoke to the Orlando Convention Center two years ago, they told me they could get January dates in 2024,” Cohn says, only half joking. “When these dates (in January) came available, they called us and I jumped at the chance. If you look at the traveling shows in this industry, the best week of the year is the first week in January. It’s a down week for distributors. Plus, all our research indicated people wanted a show in January?”

Marvin Spike, vice chairman of ASI, also says that January is the best show time, in spite of some suggestions that a show that early in January might not do much of any business.

“We do, if fact, believe the show will do more than anything at all,” he says. “We think Florida is an ideal show location. Our show in January we expect to be good. I don’t think the competition (with the Expo) between the two is bad.”

PPAI, for its part, feels otherwise.

“Our view is that it’s (the ASI Show in January) an attack on our show,” says Slagle.

Slagle also believes that ASI moving its Chicago show next summer to May is another assault on the PPAI.

“I think it will effect our (July) show (in Chicago),” says Slagle. “I don’t pretend that it won’t. We are planning to have a somewhat smaller show than we would typically have in the summer because (all these shows) stretch distributor dollars and supplier dollars.”

Hearts and minds

It is fairly clear, particularly from PPAI quarters, that the trade-show wars — and all the other skirmishes along a battle front that now stretches way beyond convention centers — are taking their toll, but also that the combatants are nowhere near looking at surrender.

“We believe there is a considerable challenge and threat across a lot of fronts,” says PPAI’s Slagle. “Trademarks, education, technology, tradeshows. They (ASI) are for-profit and aggressive, and we can’t sit back and say it doesn’t matter. It does matter. We believe there is a need for the association.

“The members,” he adds, “are going to have to make a choice. No one is forced into going to either organization.”

Adds Marvin Spike of ASI, “The only thing I don’t like is the concentration by PPAI the we’re ‘for-profit’ — and therefore bad — and they’re ‘not-for-profit’ — and therefore good. I think it’s a choice of what better serves (the industry’s) purposes.”

Matthew Cohn also weighs in: “We are in this business for the long haul,” he says. “This is a family business. We don’t think of our short-term profitability. We are working for the long-run success of this business and this industry that my family has been a part of for over 50 years.”

And while the stakes are certainly high for ASI and PPAI, the war itself might not mean that much to industry practitioners. They are more concerned with their own survival.

“I don’t care who wins,” says Dave Bandy, vice president of sales for supplier Dunbrooke. “There’s nothing it is for Dunbrooke. “I want to be where the business is.”

Jeff Rundles is Editor of Wearables Business.

REGIONAL ASSOCIATIONS HOLDING THEIR GROUND

As the big boys battle it out nationally, some regional associations are joining the fray while others protect their own interests.

While the shakeup in national shows is creating a buzz, plenty of regional and mega-regional shows still make up a crucial portion of the industry’s show business.

And most of the people who attend these regional shows do not want to see them go away.

PPAI has a new plan to combine the shows put on by the regional associations into super regional shows, a move that some of the regionals have supported.

Others don’t feel the same way. Especially the two largest — SAAGNY (Specialty Advertising Association of Greater New York) and SAAC (Specialty Advertising Association of California). SAAC is made up of more than 1,000 firms engaged in promotional products in California and throughout the U.S.

Traditionally, SAAC has cooperated with PPAI, holding its own show in conjunction with PPAI every third year (Promotions West in Las Vegas, last held in 1999).

Not any longer, says Jo Ann Macek, the executive director of SAAC. After going dark last year as a partner in Promotions West, Macek says the revenue-sharing relationship was not successful.

“Our position was to support PPAI in 1999,” points out Macek. In fact, it represented the first time all five Western regional associations agreed to support and promote PPAI’s Las Vegas show to their members.

Revenue sharing was the key phrase in the cooperative venture. But as Macek points out, “It didn’t quite work for us on the other end. By the time the bottom line was finished, there was not enough money left to give the regionals.”

SAAC had run its show in San Diego for more than 20 years, but felt it was outgrowing the hotel site where it had operated. It also felt it needed to serve its California membership in a better way. What once may have been a convenient and scenic drive to San Diego was now a demanding undertaking.

As Macek points out, “You don’t drive to San Diego, you brake to San Diego.”

SAAC had also felt the effect of a 1998 ASI Show that was held just two days after the close of its own show. The effect of the almost overlapping timing was certainly felt by SAAC, says Macek.

A SAAC board meeting held in the Fall of 1999 produced the decision never to go dark again. Add the new ASI show, says Macek, “and it certainly made us rethink our game plan.” At the same time, it explored hosting its show in a larger and more central location.

A larger and more central location was selected — Long Beach. The 2000 SAAC Show, held Aug. 9-10, took place at the Long Beach Convention Center. The 2001 show is also scheduled there.

The SAAC Show is being conducted as a revenue-sharing model with the five Western regional associations: the Arizona Promotional Products Association (APPA), the Promotional Marketing Association of Northern California (PMANC), the Promotional Products Association of Oregon & Washington (PPAOW), the Rocky Mountain Region Promotional Products Association (RMRPPA) and SAAC.

Macek says the show was sold out in April, despite being in a much larger facility. SAAC’s San Diego show had room for 565 booths. The Long Beach show contained nearly 800 booths.

Another key factor that influenced the decision to hold an ongoing California show was membership demand. SAAC ran a survey with its members, asking if there were too many shows. Macek notes that over 75 percent of the respondents wanted to maintain a California show. The pro vote came from both suppliers and distributors.

“We feel we have a niche here on the West Coast regardless of what ASI and PPAI are doing,” says Macek. “We are delighted to partner with them, but we have to let them work out their own problems between themselves. Our responsibility is to our members.”

In expanding its show size, SAAC took to heart the advice of industry insiders to not grow too big. “You have to be able to justify the audience,” contends Macek. A booth count of 1,300 or 1,400 seems too large to Macek. “flow do you justify that kind of increase, without diluting the audience?” Macek asks.

The Specialty Advertising Association of Greater New York (SAAGNY) has also opted to move ahead without the involvement of PPAI. “Don’t fight your battles on our doorstep,” seems to be the prevailing attitude at SAAGNY about the ASI/PPAI feud.

SAAGNY is easily one of the largest regional trade association with more than 850 firms among its membership in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Its annual show, Promotions East, is billed as the largest such convention and trade show east of the Mississippi — and it’s the only major promotional products show in the heavily populated Northeast.

SAAGNY just concluded its annual show in Atlantic City in an effort that involved four other associations. The regional associations that are sharing revenues with SAAGNY are the New England Promotional Products Association (NEPPA), Specialty Advertising Counselors of Delaware Valley (SACDV), the Chesapeake Promotional Products Association (CPPA) and the Mid-Atlantic Promotional Products Association (MAPPA).

“What we’ve chosen to do with four other associations in our district is a revenue-sharing plan,” explains Walter Schatz, the executive director of SAAGNY.

SAAGNY, based in Montvale, N.J., has been around the promotional products industry for 46 years.

Promotions East had 1,300 booths and tallied 3,896 distributors in attendance this June.

Still, the show was down by 30 booths from the 1999 show. “It countered the growth we were having,” says Schatz.

Nonetheless, Schatz says what he is hearing is encouraging. “The reports getting back to us have been extremely positive and supportive,” he says of the effort to work more closely with other regionals and maximize the dollars spent.

How this all plays out in future relationship-building with ASI and PPAI remains to be seen. But Schatz is not optimistic right now. “I would say there are differences of opinion that are significant,” says the SAAGNY director.

What happens between ASI and PPAI in the near term doesn’t look promising. “I think the Expo in Dallas will continue to separate ASI from PPAI,” adds Schatz. “The relationship will get worse before it gets better.”

Consolidation movement

In recent months, PPAI states it has been “aggressively working and negotiating with the regional associations to consolidate the number of shows.’

As a result, in Districts 2 and 3 members are informed there will be a net reduction in shows, beginning in 2001. According to PPAI, the concept has also been presented to the District 5 regional associations but no agreement has been reached.

To date, PPAI says its has signed agreements with four regional associations. They include PPA Florida and the Gold Coast PPA in District 2, the Tri-State ASA in District 3 and the PPAMidWest in District 4.

Under the terms of these agreements, PPAI will partner on joint district shows and coordinated traveling booth shows starting in the year 2001 meaning five shows become two shows in 2001. Those regional associations have committed to a joint district show and not holding individual regional association shows in alternating years.

PPAI says its goal is to provide suppliers with a show package that allows them “to cover the entire country by exhibiting at a minimal number of trade shows at a reasonable cost.”

PPAI contends the package will offer suppliers larger joint shows, combined with coordinated traveling booth shows, within each district.

“I admit that not all the regional associations share this vision for consolidating shows. However, PPAI’s membership clearly supports the concept, many of the regional associations’ support the consolidated show concept, and PPAI will continue to encourage this process that actually decreases the number of industry shows. PPAI is striving to obtain support from all the regional associations for show consolidation and endorsement of the district show model and discounted booth fee package,” states Bren Clevenger-Ori PPAI’s vice president of program services.

Small shows have their place

According to Karen Renshaw, executive director at the Rocky Mountain Region Promotional Products Association, that association has taken the position “not to be involved” with the ASI/PPAI spat.

Renshaw says RMRPPA, which conducts two shows a year (September and February), counts less than 50 percent of its members as belonging to the PPAI. The reason? It’s too expensive for most, with the majority being one-person operations.

“They don’t like the little fish in the big pond issue,” says Renshaw. RMRPPA currently has 250 members, with 55 percent of them suppliers.

Danny Sirmon, from the Regional Associations Council, agrees, noting that the regionals serve members at a grass roots level that is cost-effective. “I think the regional associations are a great value to suppliers and distributors in second- and third-tier cities.”

Sirmon adds there are other significant values that come from regional association participation. One of them is networking with other members of the industry, something that is more difficult at the large shows.

“People are too busy at the big shows just picking up catalogs,” he says.

A similar feeling is true in Michigan. “I would say that not many Michigan distributors go to the national shows,” says Donna Hall, the executive director of the Michigan Promotional Products Association.

The Michigan show generates an approximate attendance of 1,000 people from its 210 distributor members.

According to Hall, the upcoming show, scheduled for September 6-7, sold out faster than at any other time in her nine years with the association.

Hall adds that the Michigan association has also conducted member surveys regarding the viability of keeping the show. A solid majority is “definitely not interested in giving up our show,” she says.

“We want to be a good team member across the country,” Hall adds, “but we have to answer the needs of our members.”

The mega-show concept does not seem to appeal to a majority of the 400 members of the PPA of Oregon and Washington, either. Hunt Branham, the executive director, says the regional show is not as overwhelming as the mega-shows. It also serves a more direct purpose for constituents, he says, because “they are a place for building rapport and making connections with the people you do business with.”

Branham also points out that the national shows don’t take place near the northwestern region of the country, “So we’re not being asked to go dark,” he notes, adding that his members are telling the association to keep on with the shows it offers.

Howard Gherman, the executive director of the PPAC (Promotional Products Association Chicago), argues the entire issue of national and regional shows is a hot potato that can get him going because of his outspoken nature. However, he chose not to speak on the subject because he is slated to retire in July.

One thing seems clear. Regional associations are serving an important role for both the distributors and suppliers they serve. Even in the midst of the attempt at show consolidation, it doesn’t appear that niche will go away. Certainly not, if it’s left up to members.

Glenn Meyers is a Denver-based writer specializing in business issues, and a regular contributor to Wearables Business.

PPAI, ASI EARN PRESTIGIOUS TRADE SHOW RANKING

Running trade shows is an often lucrative business, and it is an industry in and of itself with dozens of companies engaged in formulating, marketing and running hundreds of trade shows. But, of course, there are hundreds of other shows sponsored and run by industry, associations and organizations there only because their business relates to the trade show audience.

This latter category defines the involvement of the Promotional Products Association International and the Advertising Specialty Institute in their shows.

One of the most prestigious designations in the trade show world is to be listed on the “Trade Show Week 200,” the annual rankings of the largest trade shows in the United States and Canada compiled and published by Trade Show Week magazine.

The PPAI Dallas show, now called The Expo, has been in the rankings for years, garnering the 38th spot for the latest rankings available covering 1999 shows. The Dallas show was listed as #50 in the 1998 rankings.

In something of a coup, the two ASI shows in 1999 both made the “Trade Show Week 200,” the Las Vegas show, #173, in its second year, and the Chicago show, #197, in only its first year.

According to Trade Show Week, the 1999 PPAI Expo held at the Dallas Convention Center, took up 429,000 square feet of exhibit space, up from 380,000 square feet in 1998. In this space, 1,421 firms exhibited, an increase of 48 over 1998, and an estimated 11,000 people made up its professional attendance, up slightly from the 10,882 attendance mark set in 1998.

For The ASI Show/Las Vegas, held at the Sands Expo & Convention Center in March 1999, 168,420 square feet of exhibit space was used, accommodating 1,133. exhibiting firms. Professional attendance was reported as 5,509 people. The magazine listed no figures for the previous year.

In Chicago, held at McCormick Place in July 1999, The ASI Show took 151,580 square feet of space for 1,041 exhibiting firms. Professional attendance hit 4,181.

SHOW WARS SOUND OFF: WHAT INDUSTRY PEOPLE ARE SAYING

The decision of PPAI and ASI to each do three industry trade shows in 2001 — not to mention one each in both Chicago and Orlando — may ultimately force the issue of who wins the trade show wars sooner rather than later. Suppliers and distributors will vote with the only ballot that every really matters: their feet.

The question of whether there are too many trade shows is of particular interest for wearables suppliers because the proliferation of industry shows for them doesn’t end at the promotional portal. Many of them also attend one or more of the five annual Imprinted Sportswear Shows (ISS), held at various locations around the country throughout the year, which are apparel-oriented exhibitions that also target the decorator markets.

For wearables suppliers, having mote promotional products shows looks as though it will mean being more selective of what shows to do, bringing a smaller booth and fewer personnel to shows, or both.

The range of opinions concerning the ASI vs. PPAI Show Wars — among wearables and nonwearables suppliers, and distributors alike — offers interesting insights on what course the battles might take. At the recent ASI Show in Chicago, Wearables Business interviewed many industry practitioners and what follows is a representative sampling of their views.

* George Russell, vice president of Monroe, N.C.-based supplier Inner Harbor: “We will just not do every show, and our exhibits will have to be smaller. We’ll be more selective. We’ll do Dallas, Long Beach (ISS), maybe Tampa (ISS), this show (Chicago ASI), Vegas (ASI), and ISS Fort Worth. We’ll cover the major parts of the country. We did Atlantic City (Promotions East, SAAGNY) last year, but not this year.”

* Jeff Comstock, marketing manager for Grand Rapids, Mich.-based wholesaler One Stop: “It’s very hard to do all of them. We try to do regional shows, and we try to do Dallas. It’s hard to choose which one is the best one to be at. Where’s my competitor going? I want to be seen, too. If they are exhibiting, they probably know something I don’t.

“We have never been in Vegas, (in fact) no ASI shows at all. No PPAI summer shows. We did the ISS show in Chicago, we’ll do the B.I.G. (Best In Graphics) Show in Columbus, also Indianapolis (both Printwear shows geared to the decorator market), It’s been my experience that One Stop won’t do less (one year to the next), but we aren’t considering doing another show. If we could scale back (our booth size), we would save money per show and maybe do more shows.”

* Bobby Cohen, president of Milwaukee-based Melco Clothing Co.: “All they are doing is making regional shows for suppliers. It’s all been watered down. The traffic is going to be down. Most people will either go to Dallas or Orlando (in January), not both.”

* Steve Katz, vice president of sales for Augusta, Ga.-based supplier Augusta Sportswear: “The show dilemma is extremely confusing in today’s world. You don’t know where to go, where not to go. It’s a major expense. For years, ISS had a lock on shows for apparel people, because they started it. But I think people are taking a serious look at 2001 because the ASI industry is becoming the major buyer of apparel.

“We’re looking at our budget for 2001 now. We’re looking for more of a pop-up booth. If we can cut down on the weight, the drayage, then we could do more. We’re also looking at some of the smaller, regional association shows. A local little show, a rep can set up a tabletop for $200 and he’s going to be in front of 100 people. That’s a very good return on your investment.”

* Steve Rayl, vice president of sales for Plymouth, Mich.-based wholesaler Broder Bros.: “We are probably committed to this show (ASI Chicago), but with the number of shows, we have to have more guidelines in where we go with what size booth. There’s been a lot of growth in the number of shows. I can’t see going to all of them. A year from now, we’ll know more.

“You show at a show for defensive reasons as well as offensive. If a competitor is there. I have to be these. If they’re not, maybe I don’t have to be.

“At this point in time, we do not have plans to go to Orlando (ASI in January). I’m 90 percent sure we filled out the paperwork to go to Orlando in September. ISS-Long Beach (in mid-January) was always the biggest debut show; it’s where we debut our catalog. We’re not going to be able to move a booth and samples across the country. You need two booths. (Also Orlando’s early dates) changes catalog print dates.”

* Dave Bandy, vice president of sales for Independence, Mo.-based supplier Dunbrooke: “There’s too many shows, what can I tell you? We did 20 shows this year. It’s going to be reduced next year. It’s such a strain on resources — money, people. We have to review the quality of the show more closely these days. We would like to see the industry reduce the number of shows.

“We won’t be in Orlando in January, mainly because we have two other shows in January. I’ll have my regional sales manager walk that show with me, (and) if it’s outstanding, we’ll consider it the following year. “We’ll do two PPAI shows and two ASI shows, that’s it. Really, the biggest shows of the year for us are (ISS) Long Beach and Dallas.”

* Irv Harris, general manager of Bay Shore, N.Y.-based supplier Weatherproof/MV Sport: “Forget about the cost and the amount of shows, which is exorbitant – I am finding that the attrition is great. Each show is less well-attended. SAAGNY was just fair. I heard Atlanta was horrendous. Chicago was not a great show; not highly attended. And with the January thing — if they are attempting to kill each other off, they are accomplishing exactly what they want. But as a supplier, I am going to pick the two or three I think are the best for me and support them as independent shows, and they are a combination of ASI and PPA shows.

* Bob Teese, director of the promotional products division of a non-wearables supplier, Hoyle Products. Hoyle, based in St. Paul, Mn., makes playing cards, calendars, jigsaw puzzles and games: “If ASI and PPAI can bring in new customers, then it (more shows) will be good. It’s a question of can they get the people here? I’m more than happy to see fewer people in Dallas and a few more in Orlando. It’s okay for me.

“The jury is still out (on whether six shows is too many). I’m betting on the fact that they will work. The shows have been on the big side, and I’d like to see them smaller. I can spend more time with customers.”

* Steave Keith, president of Long Grove, III.-based distributor Teamco, who flew in more than 30 of its sales reps from around the country to Chicago to walk the ASI Show: “We don’t go to PPAI (The Expo). Dallas is too big. I don’t need to see 57 magnet guys. There’s too much socializing, partying. I want my people to get business done. I like to do tabletop shows?”

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