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Meet Fluffy…He’s from Florida

The AIMExpo team recently hosted a number of industry companies and media in Orlando to offer a 360 degree first look at the venue and surroundings where we’ll be launching the American International Motorcycle Expo this October. We’ll have more on that visit in an upcoming blog, as it offers a great look at AIMExpo’s new home.

Meet Fluffy

Meet Fluffy

Posting this picture on the social sites I wrote, ‘AIMExpo’s in Orlando. Orlando’s in Florida. Meet Fluffy the gator from Florida.’ Show manager Cinnamon Kernes believed we needed an iconic Florida moment to galvanize and geographically move the industry folk’s mindset to the idea of a show in Florida. Apparently the Space Shuttle fleet, previously at Cape Canaveral, has been retired, or I’m sure she would have arranged for rides – or at least a visit to imprint that Florida icon on their minds. Instead we got Fluffy, courtesy of Wild Florida Air Boats from down the road in Kenansville, FL. Fluffy is about five-feet long, weighs around 35 pounds, and sports a wonderful black racing stripe (electrical tape) on his snout, er, jaws.

The idea that we’ll be gathering the industry together in Florida this fall is a literal way to recognize the changing ‘landscape’ in the B2B and B2C expo end of the motorcycle and powersports industry. When AIMExpo was unveiled just over a year ago, the landscape was static, i.e. nothing had changed in years with trade-only shows in Indianapolis and Cincinnati. Since our announcement in January of 2012, we’ve selected Orlando as our host city, the Orange County Convention Center as our venue, and just maybe Fluffy as our mascot!

Also since unveiling the AIMExpo last January, a competitor’s show made an announcement they would move their B2B show to virtually the same time as AIMExpo this year.  They recently announced they have cancelled it and will no longer produce a Fall 2013 show. This has caused some confusion around the marketplace, so let me clarify our message. The AIMExpo started with a clear vision to bring the entire powersports industry – industry, dealer/retailers, press and consumers– together in one place, at one time, in the right place, at the right time – starting October 2013, creating energy and excitement for everyone! And now, with the retraction of the other show, the AIMExpo is set to be the “prime buying event for powersports dealers going into the 2014 selling season,” as Colleen Brousil of Motorcycle & Powersports News put it in her latest column.

To help clear up some of the confusion, and begin to educate dealers that a better-timed show in the perfect location is launching in America, our first marketing effort to dealers is currently in the pipeline. If you’re on our mailing list or our email list, you’ve probably got the piece in your hands. (If you’re not on our email list, click here to receive important news and updates from AIMExpo).

To capture the dealers’ attention, the piece will be inserted into the February issues of both of the leading trade publications, Motorcycle and Powersports News (MPN), and Powersports Business (PSB), with combined distribution of more than 30,000 issues. If you’d like a sneak peek at ‘5 DAYS THAT WILL CHANGE THE POWERSPORTS INDUSTRY’, click HERE.

Along with the upcoming blog that will offer a deeper look into the Orlando surroundings, keep an eye out for a YouTube video that will offer a virtual tour of the OCCC, local hotels, and a great look at the hard-wall booths that will dramatically change the appearance and interaction in the show. In fact, the investment in hard-wall booths is just one of many ways that AIMExpo is changing the ‘landscape’ of the expo business to raise the perception and expectation of the motorcycle and powersports industry.

‘AIMExpo’s in Orlando.  Orlando’s in Florida.  Meet Fluffy the gator from Florida.’

Come join us in October for one incredible experience and you might have the chance to meet Fluffy!

Here’s some folks that have already met Fluffy!

Adam Redford from Twisted Throttle

Adam Redford from Twisted Throttle

Garrett Kai from Cycle World

Garrett Kai from Cycle World

Paul Collins from Givi USA

Paul Collins from Givi USA

Pietro Ambrosioni from Givi USA

Pietro Ambrosioni from Givi USA

Ann Willey from National Cycle

Ann Willey from National Cycle

Tim Calhoun from LeoVince USA

Tim Calhoun from LeoVince USA

Colleen Brousil from Motorcycle & Powersports News

Colleen Brousil from Motorcycle & Powersports News

Kerry Graeber from the AIMExpo Team

Kerry Graeber from the AIMExpo Team

Cinnamon Kernes from the AIMExpo Team

Cinnamon Kernes from the AIMExpo Team

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A Long Day

I must admit that upon reading the current September issue of Cycle World, a magazine I spent a long portion of my career at, I was surprised to see – in a very wide-grin type of way – that when I turned the page there was that photo, along with an update of that story.

CW is celebrating its 50th anniversary of publishing in 2012, with updated looks at notable stories from the first half century. In 1962, Joe Parkhurst – an enthusiast with a vision – launched an alternative publication because the status quo at the time was failing to deliver a credible product to the reader marketplace. I was privileged to know Joe for many years, and was fortunate to hear firsthand the challenges he faced in launching Cycle World. I smile today at those stories as we launch the AIMExpo, and remember Joe’s insistence that he fervently believed that what he was doing was what motorcyclists were looking for. His belief was born out when CW became the largest selling motorcycle publication within two years. I’m sure if Parky were around today, he’d be on the AIMExpo staff in some capacity!

Remembering the 24-Hour World Record brought out that big ear-to-ear smile because it was one of those great moments. Paul Dean had been on the world-record-setting KZ650 Kawasaki in 1977, as part of a public relations effort to launch the KZ 650 streetbike that was promoted as ‘faster than a 750’. As editor of CW in 1985, he saw the upcoming release of the all new Suzuki GSX-R750 as the same type of category-busting bike, with performance equivalent to then-current 1000cc machines. As a totally independent endeavor – not a corporate PR effort – it seemed like the perfect recipe to engage readers, and to set a world record.

Look at that handsome fellow. (And yes I rocked a mustache!)

As the magazine’s ad director back in 1985, my role was to drive the ad sales effort, not really to ride bikes in magazine stories. And, I generally didn’t. Except…a 24-hour speed record attempt required bodies… that could ride. When asked to be a part of the record-setting team, there were a couple of rather important considerations I had to deal with. First, my wife Stephanie was about eight months pregnant with our son Shaun, and second, we had a 20 month old daughter in Ashley. And as recounted in the story, it was early September in south Texas, which meant one thing – hot. In the end, all the stars aligned! I must say that it was only possible with the support of Stephanie who encouraged me to be a part of the team.

There are many distinct memories that flooded back when I was reading the story in CW. First, the tire chunking at the start was more than a little disconcerting. While the team was trying to figure out the cause, to keep the record attempt alive, I was orbiting at over 100 mph with half-dollar sized chunks missing from the center of the tire. Paul didn’t mention the helmet lift, but boy do I remember it. The aerodynamic lift created by the shape of the top of the helmet was dramatic due to the force the chin strap created on your neck as the helmet tried to lift off your head. Someone later told me that we should have riveted windshield wiper blades to the top of our helmets to break the lift. The normal stint was about 40 minutes for each rider on one tank of gas, which was about the limit of one’s neck.

When darkness fell, that’s when it got a little scary.  At 145+ mph, we were overdriving the headlights by a considerable amount. The couple of times I saw a javelina pig on the inside apron of the track, at that speed, you were past them before you could react. It wasn’t mentioned in the story, but one of our crew refused to ride at night because it was a bit daunting. Forty minutes at night was a lot longer than in daytime.

This made it official!

And then who could forget Jim Hansen’s frequent trips to the local fast food joints – they were the stories of legend. ‘I need 30 Egg McMuffins, 50 coffees, and 50 orange juices,’ etc… were met with some silent moments at the drive-thru speaker.

There were a lot of great moments that came out of working on that project. And as I look back on the effort, I realized that there’s a lot of similarities with what we’re doing today, launching the AIMExpo.

-The 24 hour speed record was long standing, and it took a new motorcycle (the GSX-R) to break it.
-The AIMExpo is a new idea that will break longstanding expectations of the industry in regards to trade and consumer shows.

-The CW speed record was a team of enthusiasts, including one (Paul Dean) that had participated in the previous record-setting event.
-The AIMExpo team is a group of enthusiasts, including many who have great experience in the show business (and one who participated in the CW record – me!)

-The logistics faced by CW to mount a world record attempt took a team of varied talents.
-The logistics faced by the AIMExpo to launch the premier trade/consumer show in North America will be met by a talented/experienced team.

At the end of a very long 24-hour day, we had achieved our goal of setting a new world record, by more than a 10% margin over the previous record. We celebrated the record, but in reality, we were celebrating the GSX-R redefining the sportbike class, and the ushering in of the modern era of ‘street-legal racers’.  I invite you to join us in Orlando in October of 2013 as we redefine the expectations of the marketplace in how we communicate the business of motorcycling to the trade, press, and consumer constituents in North America.

Check out the full article and additional photos from the September issue of Cycle World here

International Friendship

It’s hard to believe it’s already the middle of August. Time is really flying by.

You may have seen our release last week that since opening early registration for exhibitor space, we’ve already signed up nearly 40 companies for the inaugural American International Motorcycle Expo and are receiving more reservations daily.

Among all the buzz and active participation that has come with summer activities, I wanted to share a very wonderful visit AIMExpo received recently. Pier Francesco Caliari, Direttore Generale of both EICMA (Exposition Nazionale Ciclo Motociclo Accessori) – the big annual show in Italy – and ANCMA (Associazone Nazionale Ciclo Motociclo Accessori) – the Italian industry trade association – stopped by our office during his recent visit to the States from Italy, along with Vince Marazita, the American Representative for EICMA. Back in November, I made the trek to Milan for the 2011 EICMA show and was fortunate to set up a meeting to introduce myself to Francesco. I wanted to let him know what we were planning in North America and see if there might be areas to collaborate on in the future.

Vince Marazita, Me, Pier Francesco Caliari, Mike Webster, and Kerry Graeber

With our team growing and AIMExpo’s momentum gaining steam, we were very, very pleased that he wanted to meet with us while in Southern California. The EICMA model has been very influential in shaping the AIMExpo vision and in meeting to discover common goals and challenges, we realized we could and should work together to make motorcycling more accessible, especially to the youth.

One of the key virtues of EICMA is the energy that is created by the symbiosis of ‘new products meet the press’. New products + Press + Internet = EXCITEMENT! Add consumer accessibility within 48 hours, and stir it up! What’s not to like about that model!!

If you’ve read this blog previously, or have seen the AIMExpo “motto”, you know we want to re-energize the industry and rev-up the excitement around motorcycling in North America. I really enjoyed meeting with Caliari because it’s clear we both share a lot of passion to grow the motorcycle industry. We’ll meet again, and at the end of the day I think the visit spoke volumes to their support of our vision and goal with the AIMExpo.

To spread the good news of our show and of a new energy for North America, we’ll be exhibiting in this year’s EICMA show in November. Vince has signed us up as one of the many companies participating in the American pavillion, and we’ll proudly be waving the American flag and maybe even hand out some AIMExpo stickers! If you’re exhibiting or attending we’ll look forward to seeing you there!

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