WASHINGTON-Securing the approval of the sponsoring organizations seems to be all that's standing in the way of rescheduling next year's National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association convention to coincide with Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week trade shows in Las Vegas. David E. Poisson, who's spearheading the NTDRA's rescheduling effort, said response has been
positive from the AAIW's organizers, Las Vegas convention hotels and others likely to be impacted by the proposed date change. All have agreed to work with the association to facilitate the move, according to Mr. Poisson. ``Everybody wants to make this work,'' he told TIRE BUSINESS Oct. 4.
Mr. Poisson said the NTDRA has filed a request for space in the SEMA/AI (Specialty Equipment Market Association/Auto International Association) portion of the 1997 AAIW event. He was awaiting approval of the NTDRA's request from SEMA's executive committee as TB went to press Oct. 10.
``We are beyond wanting to do it. We now know it is feasible to do it. And we need the SEMA membership to bless this arrangement,'' he said.
The 44-year-old association administrator, who'll be taking over the job of retiring Executive Vice President Phil Friedlander in January, said the AAIW's organizers have worked hard to come up with acceptable exhibit space to house the NTDRA's 1997 trade show.
AAIW itself came into being several years ago through the consolidation of several other previously separate shows, including those of SEMA/AI, the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association, the Automotive Parts & Accessories Association and the Auto-motive Service Industry Association.
Today, the AAIW comprises two simultaneous trade shows-the SEMA/AI show, which takes place in the Las Vegas Convention Center, and the APAA/ASIA/MEMA show, held nearby at the Sands Hotel Expo Center.
Together, these huge aftermarket trade shows last year took up 2 million square feet of exhibit space with 7,764 trade show booths and drew more than 58,000 attendees, including approximately 1,200 independent tire dealers.
And unless Mr. Poisson's rescheduling effort is successful, the NTDRA's 1997 convention and trade show is to take place at the Las Vegas Convention Center Oct. 23-25. That's scarcely more than one week before next year's AAIW, which is scheduled for Nov. 4-7 in the same facility.
Holding the association's '97 convention that close to the mammoth AAIW show is a ``recipe for disaster,'' Mr. Poisson believes-particularly in view of dwindling dealer attendance and exhibitor participation at the NTDRA's last two annual gatherings in New Orleans and Atlanta.
Thus, after joining the NTDRA staff in August, he assigned himself the task of trying to reschedule the '97 convention and hold it as part of AAIW-hardly a simple matter, considering the event itself is just a year away and convention arrangements normally are made years in advance.
Fortunately, Mr. Poisson said, AAIW's organizers expressed a ``strong desire'' to have the NTDRA participate in their event.
They were able to come up with suitable space to house the NTDRA trade show exhibits. Now it's up to the show's sponsoring organizations to approve the NTDRA's request for that space.
The NTDRA focused its efforts on the SEMA portion of the two Las Vegas shows for two reasons, Mr. Poisson said. For one thing, the APAA/MEMA show at the Sands Hotel was virtually ``booked to the walls''; secondly, most tire makers already are exhibiting at the SEMA show, making it a ``more natural fit'' for the NTDRA's trade show exhibitors.
Mr. Poisson said the NTDRA's post-convention evaluations in Atlanta showed that most of the association's rank-and-file members want to go to Las Vegas. ``And more importantly, they want to go to SEMA,'' he added.
Meanwhile, NTDRA officials are talking to show organizers about offering special discounts to current SEMA exhibitors in an effort to persuade them to take out additional space in the NTDRA's portion of the trade show as well.
Mr. Poisson said the NTDRA also is thinking of making some sort of interactive video kiosks available to current SEMA exhibitors to make it possible for them to be represented in the NTDRA show area without the expense of purchasing and staffing two separate exhibit booths.
Whether or not the NTDRA will hold future conventions in conjunction with AAIW likely will depend on the success of the concept in 1997, he acknowledged.
Meanwhile, the association will continue its current talks with the Louisville, Ky.-based International Tire and Rubber Association (ITRA) on the possibility of holding that group's annual World Tire Conference & Exposition jointly with the NTDRA show-whether in Las Vegas or elsewhere.
Mr. Poisson said he met with ITRA Executive Director Marvin Bozarth in Louisville Oct. 2 and learned the ITRA is committed to holding its annual gathering in Louisville next April, thereby ruling out any possibility of a consolidated trade show in 1997. What happens after that remains to be seen, he said.
Another topic to explore, he said, is whether holding the convention in conjunction with SEMA precludes any further interest on the part of these associations in other possible venues for trade shows.
Mr. Poisson sees the SEMA show as a good place to exhibit passenger and high-performance tires, because most people attending that event are employed in fields in which such tires are of interest.
But the possibility also exists of holding similar tire exhibitions in other types of trade shows such as a trucking show or agricultural show, or one devoted to off-the-road construction equipment, he believes.
``I think what makes SEMA right,'' said Mr. Poisson, ``is that people are looking to buy tires as part of what they do for a business. And similarly, when you go to one of these trucking shows, people there are looking for trucks and all the accessories that go with them.
``But it's doubtful, as far as I can tell, that people buying truck tires, ag tires, OTR tires or those for industrial use would be inclined to go to an all-tire show. My sense is they would probably see that as an exhibit within a show that is targeted at truck buyers or OTR equipment buyers. I think we would make a nice complement to that kind of show.''