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Posted: February 26, 2017

Keystone Big Shows Mean Even Bigger Business

Attendees Reap Long-Term Benefits

By Stefanie Zalutko for Keystone Automotive Operations

Gathering three of the industry’s largest influencers in one room can only mean bigger business for all. A trusted distribution partner like Keystone Automotive Operations, a vibrant community of manufacturers, and knowledgeable retailers/restylers join forces for the two BIG Shows each year.

The shows offer Keystone customers exclusive access to one of the industry’s most extensive wholesale-only buying events in the aftermarket. Attendance means exposure to numerous business-building opportunities that can impact a shop’s profit potential for many months to come. Those benefits range from cultivating stronger industry relationships, exploring diversification avenues, and influencing overall supply and demand to growing business sales and increasing margin dollars.

“The shows have grown immensely since their inception in 1999. Quickly outgrowing our first two venues in Secaucus and Atlantic City, N.J., we now host two first-class events annually: one in February at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. and the other in March at the Gaylord Texan in Dallas,” said Harneet Kaur, Keystone’s director of marketing. “This year’s theme is Celebrating Industry Milestones, and with the 50th anniversary of the beloved Camaro, 75th of the iconic Jeep and 55th of Keystone and A&A Auto, there is a tremendous amount to celebrate. The BIG Show floors will be filled with classic rides to pay homage to the theme,” she continued.

Ken Schuck of KAM Marketing is a representative of many name-brand suppliers, including Edelbrock Performance, Lund International and MagnaFlow. He looks forward to the annual BIG Show. “There is no retailer/restyler (wholesale-only buying) show in the country that is on par with the BIG Shows. If you are a jobber, then this is the show you need to attend every year. Experience a SEMA-style event with quality booths and eight hours of nonstop action,” commented Schuck.
With the BIG Shows on tap for February 25 and March 18 respectively, there is valuable information that rings true throughout the year, because, frankly, it’s never too late to plan for a brighter future. And Keystone wants to help get you there.

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Held during the pivotal first quarter every year, the Keystone BIG Shows are like the gift that keeps on giving. Shop owners unable to attend the annual SEMA Show in Las Vegas -- or who are looking to score yet another chance to meet with leading vendors -- have a second opportunity to get up close and personal with the brands and products shaping their everyday business.

Aftermarket manufacturers benefit, too. They have a chance to evaluate any important product and beta-tested results from the SEMA Show, so they can go to market confidently and in time for the Keystone BIG Shows. And that’s huge, because when it comes to the BIG Shows, what you see is what you get. That’s right--it’s in stock and ready to ship.

Speaking of products, attendees have access to more than 800 brands and an excess of 165,000 unique SKUs. There is something for everyone regardless of the size or scope of one’s aftermarket business. These events give attendees critical exposure to aftermarket suppliers for a one-day crash course in the latest trends, emerging brands, new products, and installation training.

“Customers have an opportunity to meet and greet with the best in the business, giving them a chance to expand their offerings and allowing them to become less seasonal or less susceptible to category softness,” said Eric Fairchild, director of U.S. customer support. “Sign up for training and interact with knowledgeable industry professionals. Don’t sell suspension? Don’t handle wheels and tires? Not familiar with the diesel market? The BIG Shows are the ideal venue to learn from the best and not be afraid to branch into technical categories to round out the product on your shelves, so don’t skip out on the New Products Showcase,” added Fairchild.

And since all aftermarket segments are represented, all customers have a chance to gather, share market intelligence, and receive a customized business-building experience in an intimate setting with hands-on education. That face-to-face interaction extends from shop to shop as well. “Always take the time to learn from other retailers across North America. If you want to know what’s hot and what’s not in other parts of the country, look no further than the BIG Shows,” said George Lathouris, director of U.S .sales at Keystone.

Diane Crisologo, owner of Pamalu Truck Bed Shields in Honolulu, HI, attends the BIG Show every year. “I love the show--it’s specific to what I offer. I have more personal exposure with the manufacturing brands I sell, the products they offer, as well as new lines and products entering the market,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for me to see actual product post-SEMA and ask questions, as opposed to just viewing it online. I take advantage of the minimal moments I have to get together and have a hands-on experience (with her Keystone team, manufacturers, and products),” she added.

That’s what BIG Show West sponsor Weather Guard likes to hear, since the company uses the show exposure to drive excitement about its trusted line of truck and van products. “Not only are the BIG Shows two of only a few buying show experiences, the timing of the shows is ideal and in line with manufacturers’ new-product launches in the winter months,” said Mike Katz, director of U.S. sales at Weather Guard.

ReadyLIFT® Suspension likes to get a bite of the action as well. “We’ve been attending the BIG Shows for 11 years, four of which have been as the BIG Show East sponsor. They are very important events in the auto aftermarket. They allow jobbers perhaps their only opportunity of the year to view the latest and greatest items from top manufacturers -- not everyone gets to attend the SEMA Show. Most important for us is the invaluable one-on-one time to speak with all the customers,” said Steve Robinson, ReadyLIFT/AMI Styling’s west central/northeast region sales manager.

Newcomer DECKED continues to shake things up in the area of cargo management and is determined to solve the age-old problem truck owners have with their pickup beds through its innovative in-vehicle storage system. DECKED uses the BIG Shows as a means of communicating that new line message to the many industry influencers on the show floor. General Manager Jake Peters and team relish in the direct exposure to the retailers/restylers and remain impressed with the number of decision makers representing the attending shops.

Deals, Deals And More Deals

Did we mention the appealing purchasing incentives to bolster profit potential and help drive long-term results? Being located outside the 48 continental states, Crisologo’s shop takes advantage of the deep deals and extensive promotional offers to stock up on best-selling items for the year.

Throw in exciting car giveaways, power hours, merchandising programs, and celebrity appearances by renowned names such as Chip Foose, Vaughn Gittin Jr., Brian Deegan, Gas Monkey Garage, and country singers Rodney Atkins and Clare Dunn, and you have an equally fun and engaging meeting of the minds.

“The Keystone BIG Shows are inclusive, allowing all kinds of shops to dip (into the benefits),” said Mitch Rowell, owner of Rowell Inc./Rowell Truck Accessories/4x4, a retail, restyling and installation facility located in Indian Trail, N.C. “If we had this when we started (in 1983), sheesh,” said Rowell. “These shows give the smaller guys an opportunity, too. There are great resources right in front of them that they’d otherwise struggle to have access to. The BIG Shows make it interesting for you, and (Keystone) is always doing something to excite customers, from new-line launches to power hours and promotional offers. We take most of our staff and give the guys in the front and back (of the shop) a chance to see what it’s all about. We’re there from the time it opens until the time it closes,” he added.

Mark Your Calendars

What a show season it’s shaping up to be! “We continue to raise the bar to ensure the customer experience is the utmost number-one goal. The Keystone ‘Bigger-Than-Ever’ Show is always a huge success,” said Melissa Holland, Keystone’s events manager.

But it takes a village. “The entire team just continues to present a fantastic event each and every year. A show this size requires all parts of the company to come together to ensure a seamless show,” she continued.
Sincerest gratitude to all those who make this an A+ event every year, from company employees, outside staff, and sponsors to the manufacturing, customer, and industry community at large. Mark your calendars and get ready to join us at this year’s events!

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