MONTEREY, CA (BRAIN)—Owners and managers from 38 of the industry’s biggest-volume stores began heading back Thursday evening and Friday morning following two days of seminars and training with peers and hearing from industry outsiders and business experts on the topics of customer service, profitability, consumer trends, succession planning and new retail opportunities at the first IBD Summit.
The conference was organized and hosted by Interbike and Sea Otter Classic’s Frank Yohannan. While small in its first year, most sponsors and dealers said they appreciated the intimate gathering.
“I love it, getting all the new ideas, even at breakfast talking to other dealers. Being a small group, you can talk to people easily,” said Kris McClain of McLain Cycle and Fitness, with three stores in Michigan, who was one of three dealers who received a scholarship to the conference from The Bike Cooperative.
McClain, who picked up flight and lodging cost, felt the investment was worth it.
Retailers gave high marks to the joint dinner and rides with suppliers at the Bicycle Leadership Conference, held a mile away at the Monterey Plaza Hotel. Some, who have attended the BLC in the past, said they missed some of the interaction that event afforded them, as well as learning about what’s impacting manufacturers and distributors.
Germany lock company Abus had a prominent position in the sponsor expo and West Coast sales manager Collin Myers said the event allowed them to get in front of quality dealers and introduce them to the brand, which this year is making a big push into the U.S. market. “It has to start somewhere. It’s a great launch,” Myers said.
Attendance was close to 100, with about 45 retail owners and managers and another 40 or so staff from more than a dozen sponsors who set up small booths at the Portola Conference Center and Hotel. The event’s biggest backers included Bikes Belong, Easton-Bell Sports, Fox, Raleigh and Specialized.
“This is the upper echelon of dealers—we felt there was a reason to be here,” said Fox’s U.S. service manager Ed Breslau.
Interbike managing director Pat Hus said he was pleased overall with the outcome. He said he will tweak the content and invest in speakers to make sure it continues to be relevant and interesting to higher-level dealers in the future. He also hopes to bring the BLC and IBD Summit closer together so that attendees have more opportunities to interact, an often-cited request.
Hus said the plan is to hold the conference again next year, but the dates and venue have not been finalized.
Interbike will shuttle dealers to the Sea Otter Classic Friday morning and to the Fox factory in Watsonville for a tour before they board on planes back home.