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CABDA draws in dealers in year two

Published February 4, 2016

ST. CHARLES, Ill. (BRAIN) — The Chicagoland Area Bicycle Dealers Association trade show gained even more traction in its second year, and the dealer group’s board is already planning a bigger show next year.

Held Wednesday and Thursday at the Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, a suburb about an hour outside of Chicago, the show drew retailers from Illinois as well as nearby states including Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Iowa.

More than 1,400 attendees from 370 shops had pre-registered to attend, according to Jim Kersten, president of CABDA and show director. “We had 737 attendees today alone,” Kersten said Wednesday night at the Industry Party, which capped off the first day of the show. Some 300 dealers and exhibitors stayed for the festivities, which included hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar and music from an 11-member Blues Brothers band.

Kersten said about 200 on-site registrations were processed Wednesday.

The CABDA board voted and approved for the show to return next year to the Pheasant Run. It will take place Feb. 1-2. “Bicycle dealers in the Midwest are an important demographic and we have to do it,” Kersten said. “When we first had the idea to bring back the organization and the show, we never in a million years thought we’d have the turnout. We have dealers from as far east as New York City, as far north as Duluth, Minnesota, as far south as Biloxi, Mississippi, and as far west as California.”

Exhibitors hailed the show for its better timing, at a time of year when retailers can get out of their stores; its more intimate size that allows for longer conversations; and its affordability. Companies could exhibit starting at $650 for a 10x10. And with no unions, booth setup and teardown is done by the exhibitors themselves at a small fraction of the cost of a larger trade show. Most booths consisted of simple tables, display cases or pegboards and curtain backgrounds — no flashy or elaborate construction or displays requiring hours of setup.

Hawley tripled its exhibit space from a 10x10 to a 30x10 space this year. Larry Beiswenger, one of the reps manning the booth, said he expected to see 35 to 40 of his dealers at the show. “One of my Amish customers from Northern Indiana, he doesn’t fly. He hopped on a train to come to the show,” he said, adding that several Amish dealers had dropped in. “Shops are excited about this show.”

Dennis Burg, the Chicago rep for Hawley, noted, “People want their own show with Midwestern flavor. We got a lot of support from Hawley to do this and do it right. Next year we’ll be in a bigger booth based on foot traffic.”

Other national distributors including J&B Importers and QBP had booths to show their house brands, while regional distributors including Olympic Cycle Supply, Ochsner, Detroit Cycle Supply and Lexco also had booths to connect with their dealers.  

“I just hope this show is successful because it’s a better time of year. I hope it takes off — it’s good to have a Midwest show again,” said Doug Dye, a Cycling Sports Group rep for the Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa region. A total of five reps for the Midwest attended on behalf of CSG for the first time, which had Cannondale bikes on display, as well as accessories from Fabric and Sugoi apparel. “A bunch of Midwest reps decided to do this. We will be here next year,”

“This is where the shop guys come — where they can get excited about the industry,” said Mike Casey of Alter Cycles, which was showing its bikes with customizable, oddly shaped downtubes.

Casey, who drove 3½  hours from Grand Rapids, Michigan, said: “Here you really get a chance to see and talk in depth with everybody.”

“For us, smaller, regional shows seem better,” said Brian Orloff, managing director of Sigma USA, which is based in St. Charles. “There are a lot more shop employees here. They can come on their own time.

“Jim [Kersten] sent us a list of dealers who had pre-registered and we contacted them to ask them to come by,” he added. “This show is about the dealers.”

Kenda’s Matt Boissy, aftermarket sales manager for the bike division, noted that many dealers in the Midwest states don’t travel to the annual Interbike trade show in Las Vegas, and the CABDA show allows them to connect with them. Kenda was one of many first-time exhibitors.

Boissy drove six hours from Ohio to set up a booth even though Kenda’s products were on display at some of the distributor booths. “We’re here to support the network of dealers,” he said. “The timing is good so we can allocate the resources. Product on show was released last fall, but is now shipping.”

Another first-time exhibitor, Brompton, had a booth to grow its presence in the Chicago market. “It’s a good way to build our presence, and we’re also visiting dealers in the area,” said Nate Prescott, who handles marketing for Brompton.

CABDA’s Kersten handed out awards at the Industry Party on Wednesday night. After issuing a call-out for nominations just a couple weeks before the show, he came up with three awards named after individuals who have had an impact on the local market.

The Larry Lorenz salesman of the year award, named after an independent rep serving the region who passed away in 2011, went to Ray Pecora, the Chicago rep for Olympic Cycle Supply. CABDA’s dealer of the year award was given to Ron Kozy of Kozy's Cyclery, with five stores in Chicago. The supplier of the year award, named after the late Harold Karbin, founder of Lexco, went to Olympic Cycle Supply.  

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