The National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association made a smart move in merging its annual trade show with the annual Specialty Equipment Market Association/Auto International Association (SEMA/AI) show in Las Vegas beginning in 1997. Had it not done something dramatic to shore up its ailing exhibition, the annual NTDRA gathering might well have dwindled to nothing, leaving U.S. tire dealers with no national trade show and a weakened national association. Neither scenario would have been good for the independent tire dealer.
Instead, thanks to the efforts of incoming Executive Vice President David Poisson, the NTDRA show will join the huge Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week, of which the SEMA/AI show is a part. This year's AAIW event drew more than 60,000 showgoers and exhibitors to Las Vegas earlier this month.
Officially, the merger is only for one year. But Mr. Poisson said the association is approaching it as a permanent liaison.
The annual AAIW shows are intoxicating. They provide everything a dealer might want to see or purchase in the automotive aftermarket, including tires, wheels and add-on vehicle accessories. Plus, the shows are held in Las Vegas—traditionally a big draw for tire dealers.
If excitement is what the NTDRA show lacked, that won't be a problem with the AAIW shows. They've got it in abundance. The shows are big, glitzy and inviting, with so many exhibits to see and seminars to attend it's virtually impossible to visit them all.
The question now is: Will independent tire dealers and exhibitors catering to the retail tire business find the merged NTDRA and SEMA/AI shows compelling enough to attend next year?
Surveys of NTDRA dealer members and suppliers indicated a strong preference for the NTDRA to merge its annual trade show with SEMA/AI.
The NTDRA listened to members and exhibiting companies and has done its part to improve the value and excitement of its annual trade show. The next move is up to independent tire dealers and their suppliers.