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I spoke with IASC Executive Director John Bernards this morning about the closing of ASR, IASC’s position on the future, and reviewed some history about the skate community’s dissatisfaction with the show.
Separately, I had asked IASC Board Member Frank Messman for his thoughts on future as well.
John said the big issues were that the timing did not work for many skate companies, particularly the footwear companies. And, skate wanted a more informal environment, including less costly and easier to set up booths.
ASR tried, but was never able to pull it off, John said.
So in 2008 after a lot of research, IASC was set to split off into its own trade show, partnering with ASR on it. The show was set for earlier in the cycle, July instead of September, and had a different venue.
But in the end, Nielsen pulled the plug, John said, because the company was worried the show would take buyers away from its September show.
IASC did not have the resources to put the show on itself, though John has always believed the skate industry needed its own trade show, and the effort died.
Now that ASR has died as well, IASC’s position is to work collaboratively with all the different associations to come up with a solution for the future, and has been working with SIMA as it conducted its study of the situation.
Separately, IASC Board Member Frank Messman has this to say about the issue when I asked him about the situation via email:
"As far as IASC is concerned we believe it would be in the skateboard industry’s best interest to find a way for IASC and SIMA to work together – hopefully with the involvement of BRA and Crossroads – to address the tradeshow needs of the Skate and Surf industry," Frank said.
"It is my opinion that this presents the skate and surf industry with a unique opportunity to take more control of our industry’s destiny. There are many different moving parts and whether this could best happen in collaboration with existing tradeshow organizers or with a separate industry owned or controlled effort will need to be evaluated carefully in the coming weeks and possibly even months."
John was at the first ASR show, and saw the evolution of the show over the years. He remembers how important it once was for the industry, and the crucial role it played in the industry’s growth.
But, as the industry grew and changed, ASR didn’t, he said. Consumers are buying differently and thus retailers are buying differently, and manufacturers have changed how they plan and sell.
“The problem was it never changed,” he said. “It was the same format when it started.”
And there were other issues, of course. The unionization at the convention center led to high fees. Less and less buying happened at the show as companies built their sales forces and could easily visit West Coast retailers in their stores to sell, a setting preferred by many retailers.
In fact, IASC did a survey of its members after the last ASR and asked how many manufacturers wrote future orders at the event. The answer was 12%.
“Overtime, the buying faded away,” he said.
And then the consolidation in the industry reduced the buying even more, John said.
While its bittersweet to see ASR go and he thinks the world of ASR VP Andy Tompkins who tried hard to find solutions, he definitely thinks it’s time for reinvention.
“We have to figure out a new platform,” he said.