NADA 2015, Part 2: Pitches From The Suppliers

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In NADA 2015 Part 1, we covered some of the ways manufacturers were engaging their dealer audiences. This time in Part 2, we’ll cover some of the third-party suppliers and the products they were pitching – everything from electronic tire tread readers to chocolate chip cookies. Let’s take a look.

It’s up to suppliers to seem as big and impressive as they can to their dealer clients. It’s not for nothing that the first rep I interviewed presented the Rolex he’d just received for 10 years with the company. “It’s the version with the green sweep hand,” he said. “About $14K.”

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Maximizing service-department profit is a major focus, and Hunter Engineering demonstrated a system where, after rolling a car over some sensors and then clamping a measurement tool to each wheel, a service writer could quickly present fine details as to the condition of alignment and tire tread.

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Almost immediately, Hunter’s trademarked Quick Check spits out alignment assessments…

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…and tire tread readings, complete with a graphic rendering of the risk introduced by the client’s failing rubber. You’re going to drive your kids around in that slow-stopping deathtrap?

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Indiana-based Explorer Van Company showed its current crop of customizations…

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…which inside appear more like private jets than the velour-and-pressboard hokum commonly associated with custom vans.

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You’re up at $70K for one that’s loaded for bear.

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Right around then is when my new best friend Manny was getting kudos for his deep pours.

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The CRM (Customer Relationship Management) company Elead had a bustling display.

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Elead started at NADA decades ago, baking cookies on-site to demonstrate the treats they sold to dealers to give as gifts to their customers. When CRM became a thing, they went a step further to help dealers manage those relationships, complete with a call center. Cookies are still a big deal though – Elead still makes its own, on-site next to the call center. It was a loyal group at the display, with most reps I spoke to having at least 10 years under their (probably periodically expanding) belts.

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The chocolate cookies were damn good.

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Over at Sharp Performance USA (yep, of Bob Sharp fame, the storied Nissan racer who palled around with Paul Newman), the rep discussed keychains and promo items.  When I asked if it’s a tough business, he said, “Yep. Competitive and aggressive.”

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Benmatt Industries occupies a larger footprint in that space, with everything from nail files to plastic-wrapped tissues, all dealer-branded.

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I asked how much each of the lip balms cost the dealers. “A buck,” the rep replied. Benmatt works on a subscription model, like the old Columbia House record club. One month a dealer gets a box of balms, the next it gets one with microfiber screen cleaners, and so on.

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Elsewhere, there were air compressors…

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…dealer-integrated accounting services…

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…and just some old-fashioned team building.

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Also there was a Batmobile, I’m not sure why.

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It did have some neat details.

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The reps were madly offloading their undistributed swag as the last day wound down, and so I ended up with a big bag of stress balls.

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The next NADA will move from SF to Las Vegas, which should provide the necessary destination-city pull to get manufacturers, dealers and suppliers under the same roof again. We look forward those pitches, along with the cookies.

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1 comment

  1. Great coverage, replete with candid & informative photos! From bolts & nuts, to wine & wrist-watches, this overview revels a few of the intrinsic characteristics, behind the NADA 2015 Exposition.

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