Monthly Archives: April 2012
Welcome to the very first blog post from the American International Motorcycle Expo. Our purpose with this blog is to bring our friends both in the industry and beyond along with us on our journey as we turn a vision that started over 20 years ago into a reality. I am Larry Little, Vice President and General Manager of the Motorcycle Group for Marketplace Events and I’ll be doing my best to keep you informed on our progress as we make our way to the inaugural AIMExpo in the Fall of 2013.
In case you aren’t familiar with who I am or my background, allow me to give a quick rundown. From 1981 until 2010, I enjoyed a wonderful career in the media business at Cycle World magazine, with the last 20 years serving as the magazine’s publisher. While at Cycle World, I became active in the Motorcycle Industry Council, first with its industry expansion program, Discover Today’s Motorcycling, and then was elected to serve on the MIC’s board of directors in 1998. For the past nine years, I have served as the board’s chairman, and not long ago was re-elected to another two-year board term. I have also been immensely gratified to serve on the board of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, a charitable organization that is dedicated to finding the cause and cure of brain tumors in children, and produces the well known Ride For Kids charity fundraising rides.
When I left Cycle World back in 2010, I was given the opportunity to step back and view this great business of motorcycling with a new perspective. To keep myself engaged in the industry, I started doing project work, which led to a phone call from an old friend Mike Webster, who also enjoyed a long career in the motorcycle business himself. He was now at a show producer called Marketplace Events and wanted to investigate possible opportunities in the motorcycle business.
To give a little background on why Mike may have called me takes us back 20 years. I had just returned from my first visit to a European motorcycle trade show; I still am not sure if it was EICMA in Milan or Intermot in Cologne, but I do remember the energy and excitement that was present on the show floor. I called up Mike (who was a show producer in the market at the time) and asked him, “You’re the show guy, why can’t we have a show like that for the American marketplace?” As we talked it through, the answer pretty much had to do with the fact that in Europe, new motorcycles were introduced to everyone at the same time. Press launches were made from the show, dealers attended the show, and consumers were able to see the bikes mere days after they launched. Everybody was in one place at one time! In America, things were done differently as a byproduct of the size and importance of our large market, but at the time, I still felt like there was a missed opportunity.
Now 20 years after my first experience with an international show, there was a chance to turn what was a friendly conversation into a very real possibility. Over the course of 2011, Mike and I met with a lot of industry companies, talked to dealers and consumers – gathering a great deal of information – and in time determined there was an opportunity to do something different and innovative. We are living in a post-Global Financial Crisis era. The reality is that budgets have tightened up considerably for everyone. OEM stand-alone dealer meetings aren’t a given anymore. Much of the industry, including the aftermarket, finds itself without a platform to promote in North American as they do in Europe during the key fall season when not only are new bikes introduced, but all manner of gear and accessories as well. Currently, in America, we have to spool up the browser, or check a social media feed from Europe to see what’s new. Did I miss something? Even at a reduced sales number, we sold 500,000 new motorcycles and scooters here last year. We are ready to create some of that ENERGY and EXCITEMENT here for North American dealers and consumers with the American International Motorcycle Expo.
I know you can tell that we are very excited about bringing a show of this magnitude to the U.S. As we finalize the daunting details about when and where the inaugural AIMExpo will take place, the staff here at Marketplace Events always tries to remember the vision statement developed for this project:
The American International Motorcycle Expo’s purpose is to serve as the catalyst to bring together industry, press, dealers and consumers in a single arena that creates a grand stage for motorcycling in the U.S. and North America, and delivers an efficient and energetic market-timed expo platform for B2B and B2C in the motorcycle industry. AIME is the single most important show of its type in the North American market and will have international impact within the motorcycling community.
Our entire staff is as passionate about motorcycling as they are about making this a successful event. As big as this project is, we felt it was important to keep you as informed as possible during our journey to the Fall of 2013. I hope to write blog posts every two weeks, and the posts can be accessed easily through Facebook at www.facebook.com/AIMExpo and Twitter @AIMExpo. Stay tuned as we search for the perfect venue to host North America’s biggest and most impactful show ever!