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I followed up with SIMA President Doug Palladini this morning to ask more about the West Coast trade show situation in light of news that ASR is closing.
SIMA derives a portion of its revenue from ASR, in addition to Surf Expo, and its members exhibited at the show.
There are so many constituents for action sports trade shows – including surf, skate, apparel, footwear, brands, retailers – and all with different needs and sales deadlines. I asked Doug if he thinks there is a solution that can work.
“We absolutely believes there is a solution out there – there is no doubt in our minds,” he said.
While it’s bittersweet to see ASR go, Doug said, he also feels that the business model that worked for brands in 2000 is not as relevant in 2011 because of the maturation of the industry.
SIMA was not caught flatfooted. It became clear that the status quo was not working, Doug said, so 18 months ago hired a consultant to conduct “exhaustive” research to evaluate alternative ideas.
Bob Mignogna interviewed approximately 150 people to gather input and suggestions, Doug said.
There were no sacred cows, and everything was on the table. Ideas ranged from changing the name of the gathering to “industry conference” from “trade show” to adding a consumer element to the show. SIMA owning and running its own trade show as SIA does is also under consideration, as are a wide range of other solutions.
Now, SIMA, in consultation with BRA and ISAC, will need to evaluate all the ideas and find a path forward, Doug said. While SIMA’s main constituents are the surf manufacturers, it is trying to work as collaboratively as possible with the other groups, including Surf Expo and Agenda, he said.
I asked Doug if there was a timetable for the decision.
“We are not in a rush, but need to take our time to make a considered, informed decision,” he said.
Doug’s concern is that the demise of ASR will be interpreted as an indication that the industry is in decline.
He stressed there are a lot of positive, progressive things happening with companies and the sport and several publicly traded companies are posting solid numbers even in the tough economy.
The closing of ASR “had much more to do with ASR and meeting the needs of its constituents than it does as an industry as a whole,” Doug said.