PROSPECT, Ky.-A professional business conference for commercial tire and service dealers planned for this December has found a unique way to eliminate competition among exhibitors. The gathering-not quite a follow-up to last year's lightly attended International Commercial Tire & Service Expo-will be held Dec. 1-2 in Atlanta in the Stouffer's Waverly Hotel.
But unlike its predecessor, a three-day event in Nashville, Tenn., which hoped to draw participants from throughout the U.S., the new event is a regional one that will feature only one supplier-sponsor in each of more than 30 product areas.
The Atlanta conference theme is ``Commercial dealers-moving into the 21st century.'' Its manager, John Wagner, said the program will downplay the trade show aspect and instead will focus on professional management presentations, workshops, networking, new products and cost-saving ideas from suppliers.
Mr. Wagner, who heads Prospect-based Tire Marketing Service, emphasized there is ``a strong need for more focused programs'' in the commercial industry.
The most unique aspect of the upcoming conference will be supplier/exhibitor participation. Only one supplier will be allowed to co-sponsor the event with a group representing 35 disciplines or segments of the commercial tire and service industry, Mr. Wagner said.
Each supplier will have ``exclusive exposure and attention for his products and customer base, without concern of other competitors promoting products,'' he said, and will receive as much exposure as they prefer based on a choice of three levels of sponsorship:
Primary level ($10,000);
Secondary level ($5,000); and
Base level ($3,000).
The number of booth spaces available, as well as participation in or sponsorship of workshops, meals and receptions varies, depending on the level a supplier decides to choose.
``Many suppliers have a fear of bringing their customers to a program with other competitors in the room,'' Mr. Wagner said. ``Therefore, we have eliminated the concern by allowing one supplier in each entity to participate as a co-sponsor.''
Only co-sponsors will be allowed to invite their customers with free VIP passes, Mr. Wagner said.
Thus far, four major suppliers have signed on for sponsorship: Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. (new tires); Fleet Equipment Corp. (service truck equipment); Progressive Computer Software Inc. (computers); and Taylor Group (waste water systems).
All presentations and pro-grams-including 12 seminars-will focus on what dealers can expect through the end of this century and into the next concerning product development, government intervention, environmental issues, vehicle changes, management, sales and financial programs, and other areas of concern to dealers, Mr. Wagner said.
Since suppliers will foot the bill for the program, they will have control of the attendance which, he said, will be limited to 400 to 500 attendees. Those wishing to attend without a VIP pass must pay the full $300 registration fee.
If successful, the program could be the first in a series of similarly styled regional conferences which he said could be held in ``more concentrated areas'' such as Orlando, Dallas and Chicago.
The program could be a ``build up'' to a second Expo in 1996, depending on industry interest, Mr. Wagner said.