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Surf Expo got underway Thursday with a new dive section, a large SUP presence and the return of some brands that had previously taken a break from the September show.
Hurley, which usually attends the January show with its large booth format, returned to the September show after an approximately two-year break with a fresh approach.
John Heelan, VP of Hurley East Coast Sales
John Heelan, VP of Sales for the East Coast, said one of the main reasons Hurley returned was the wake presence at Surf Expo. Hurley believes its Phantom boardshorts are a good fit with that customer.
So Hurley asked to be near the wake section and brought a tighter, open booth that solely showcased the Phantom. Then it added two workstations nearby where potential customers could sit down and see the Hurley line in more detail if they were interested.
John estimated Hurley’s footprint at the show was half the size of its typical presence at the January show.
Global Surf Industries has not attended any trade shows since 2007, said owner Mark Kelly.
He decided to try Surf Expo this year because of the large SUP section and after learning more about the opportunity for an established company like GSI in the show’s SUP area from Roy Turner during a meeting at the SIMA Surf Summit this year.
The Global Surf Industries booth was very busy during the day, and Mark estimated he had talked with 50 dealers in the first 2.5 hours of the show.
He also thought it was a good opportunity to meet some new dealers from inland areas that are getting into SUP.
GSI brought 12 people to the show and showcased about 80 boards on racks hanging from the ceiling.
The show continues today and Saturday, and while Surf Expo does not have attendance numbers yet, buyer preregistration was up 13% over the same show last year and hotel reservations were up 33%, said Surf Expo’s Steven Fisher.