Saturday, September 27, 2008

Interbike Report

This Interbike report will have no pictures of funky aero bikes or gadgets, so you can exit now if that's what you are here for. There's lots of threads with cool bike pics at I am writing this up, so that those outside the business may get an idea of what it's like for a small company exhibiting at a show like Interbike in Las Vegas.


- Arrive from Toronto around noon.

- Booth set-up on Tuesday afternoon went well. Had a bit of a hassle getting past the Teamster folks at the back loading dock. We have one of those portable booth-in-the-box set-ups that we just roll in and hang up our samples on.

- Retired to my hotel room to further review dealer numbers and notes. It's going to be a hectic first two days as we are completely booked up with meetings and I want to have as much info as I can on each account in my head.

- Grab dinner at a Resturant in Harrah's with a colleague who had gone to the Demo Day and I get all the updates on that.

- Go to bed reasonably early as I know the next three days are going to be very long and tiring.


- Show opens and we are right into it with meetings with customers and prospects.

- We over-hear all the noise down the aisle about the Cervelo P4 launch but, we carry on talking wetsuits.

- As usual it's way too cold in the hall. Why is the AC at the Sands set to Arctic?

- Meetings, and more meetings. Even a few drop-bys which is nice.

- I bump into Gerard Voormen and Herbert Krabel enroute to get a quick drink of water( voice going horse already from dry air, AC and talking - not a good sign) I have a spare few minutes, so Gerard, Herbert, and I don't talk P4 which is right there in front of us. Instead, we have an entertaining, but brief discussion of the fashion forwardness of shirts tucked in or out for men. For the record: Krabel - cool Slowtwitch T - un-tucked in. Voormen - dress shirt tucked in. Fleck - Dress shirt un-tucked.

- Back to the booth and more meetings.

- Herbert Krable drops by the Nineteen booth in a rare lull in the action and snaps a pic of the new Nineteen Frequency SS. Pic goes up on ST later on. Thank you Herbert.

- Simon Whitfield drops by to say "Hi" but I am conducting a meeting with two dealers so we acknowledge each other with a head-nod and a Thumbs Up. One of the dealers wants to know who that was???

- Show wraps up for the day and as we walk by the Cervelo booth we stop and chat with some more of the team there that we know( Both Cervelo and Nineteen are in Toronto) I finally have a closer look at the P4 - looks cool. Learn that Cervelo has formed an R & D allienace with top Canadian Wheel-Chair racer Geoff Adams to make cutting edge wheel chairs - very neat. Meet Geoff for the first time.

- Onto the Competitor Group Party at V. Open bar with many key tri and bike industry insiders = many very interesting and entertaining discussions( some/much of which can't be printed here!!!) Thank CEO John Duke and our rep Sean Watkins for the party. Compliment Sean on his funky head-ware - a plaid poor-boy cap.

- Introduce someone to Dan Empfield, who did not know who Dan was and, I tell my friend, that we would not be here doing what we are doing if not for Dan - He is the Godfather!! Thank you Dan. We are all grateful. Seriously.

- Off to dinner with a customer at Tao. Great food and cool music.

- There is talk of doing some gambling, but we decide at 11:30pm that our day is done.

- Back at the hotel room we get the report on the Cross race from someone, the Lance news of the day and some other stuff.

- Fall hard asleep shortly after mid-night


- Really a repeat of Wed. Mostly chock-a-block with meetings all day.

- High -light of the day: Two dealers drop of finished pre-season orders. Booking season is off to a great start!

- Lance siting. By chance, I am walking by the Oakley booth and just as I am walking by the entrance Lance pops out with body guards all around, but we still pass almost shoulder to shoulder.

- Bump into Gerard V. again. I note that he has his dress shirt is untucked today and I compliment him on how it looks!!

- Tribe Multisport drops by for their meeting. Kevin W. and the team from Tribe seem to do this show right. They go all out! It's Las Vegas baby!!

- See Andy Ording from Zipp and we have a quick catch-up chat near one of the concession stands as I grab a quick snack and drink. Andy sponsored me with Zipp wheels, years ago when Zipp was just starting out. One of the nicest guys in the business.

- AC still arctic in the Sands convention center. Throat and voice getting worse. More than a few folks walking around with jackets on!!

- On a bathroom break I meet up by chance with Whitfield. We quickly catch up. He's going to be on Royal Canadian Air Farce( a Canadian Comedy show) later on this week. I say that I will see if I can come to the taping. My son loves the show. Simon says to contact him if I have a problem getting tickets.

- Day wraps up and we head to the Cervelo Test Team Launch party, ironically back at Tao. Good food, good drink and more interesting discussions with a number of industry insiders, reps and others.

- Walking back to my hotel I spot Cid Cardoso Jnr and the team from Inside Out Sports at Chipotle( they had been at the Cervelo event to). We all sit down and have a good catch-up over burritos. They are going to the USA Crit Champs and offer me a drive. So off we go.

- Back from the Crits by about mid-night, but run into another customer in a bar at Harrah's and we share a night-cap and then after that I hit the hay by 1:00am


- At the Nineteen booth more of the same, but mercifully, booked through only until 2:00 today then more or less done.

- Feet are starting to get a bit sore. Same for the back

- Super Freelance photo and writer-guy Jay Prashun drops by to have a look at the Frequency SS. Thanks Jay. Again, I am with a customer, so I let Jay shoot what he wants and we agree to get together for lunch in Kona in a week and a half.

- Dean Jackson from Blue Seventy wanders over for a chat as things start to slow down. I should note that a number of the key Tri vendors( Cervelo, Felt, Scott, Blue Seventy, nuun, Orca, Orbea, 2XU, Rocket Science, and our selves are all within a very short walk on the massive Sands convention area show show floor - sort of an informal Tri-Zone). Shows winding down so Dean and I have a chance to talk about the wetsuit business and where we are all at. Good talk with a good competitor and the wetsuit business leader.

- Spy Bryan Rhodes in the aisles some where and I congratulate him on his IMC win. We talk IMH. and Rhodsy gives me the inside run-down on who is fit and who is not for the top men. Bryan thinks he has a great chance at IMH. Go Rhodsy!

- On Friday afternoon as the attendees start to leave, there tends to be more booth to booth and Exhibitor to Exhibitor chat. One of our neighbours, BigFish, make these very cool folding bikes - that people can take on buses and trains. They are from Slovenia and looking for business in North America. I give her a few leads of shops in the Toronto area that specialize in commuting bikes. We also talk about triathlon in Slovenia - it's growing rapidly. She shares with me a few key tri contacts over there.

- A customer who I was not expecting to see does drop by, and would like a detailed Nineteen PK session for a couple of his staff, who are along with him who are new, so I happily ablidge.

- The show really starts to wind down as we get closer to closing time at 6:00pm. I start to make notes, review each meeting and sort through the stack of business cards that I have in my left pocket. Only one no-show in three days of meetings and a good number of walk-bys. Perfect!

- At 5:30 everyone is starting to break-down their booths so we start in. Takes about an hour to pack everything up for us, just like the set up was. Then it's off to the Airport to catch the flight home.

- Tex-Mex for dinner and a few beers at the airport then the over-night flight back to Toronto.

Home now and already starting to get orders in for next year and follow-up on new leads that we dug up at the show. All-in-All it was a great show. I really did not get to see much of the show, but that's OK. Key thing is growing Nineteen's business and on that front it was very successful.

Sorry for the long report. Just thought some folks might like a slightly different perspective on Interbike than more aero bike pics :-)

Here are some pics of the Interbike Trade Show:

Our little spot at the Interbike Trade Show

Breaking the booth up and packing up.

Shopping cart of outlets from booths

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Cleaning The Mind - Keeping It Simple

The financial news is not good. Gas prices are all over the map. The whole North American continent is in the midst of an election - Canada and the U.S. It's a time of extreme uncertainty. It's not the end of the year yet, we still have over three months to go, but in a way I have already turned the corner and am working away on 2009. In this business, the sporting goods business, that's the way it works. In light of that, I have just cleaned off my desk - time to start fresh and focus on the task at hand, which at this time of year is getting our ( Nineteen Wetsuits) information out to all our customers and to as many prospects as we can. So despite all the uncertainty and variables that are going on with the economy, with the elections and in the greater world, it's nice to just zero-in and focus on one thing - building our Nineteen wetsuit business and focusing on our sales and business development. At times like this it's best to keep things simple. That I find sharpens my focus and allows me to really get done what needs to get done.

It's been a good year. Our sales grew by over 50% this year. Based on conversations I have had with many dealers who are both customers of ours and good prospects, I have a good feeling that we could equal our growth this year in 2009. That's very encouraging. However we can't wait around for that to happen, we need to go out and make it happen - by talking to customers and prospects, making proposals and receiving orders. It helps that we will see many key people in the business next week in Las Vegas at the big Interbike Trade Show ( ). Trade Shows get mixed responses these days when you bring the subject up with people, but I figure you will never have that many key people all under one roof at one time in a business - make what you can of it. Many go to Trade Shows, set up their booths and wait for people to come by. This approach rarely works. I have spent the last month booking meetings with many key customers and prospects. We have over 40 meetings set up. For some people, it's the only time all year that we get to see them personally. More time with customers and prospects is always good thing.

We have some very exciting additions to the Nineteen line for next year that we will be launching at Interbike - some very cool stuff actually that I know we are going to sell a lot of. Check back in, in a short while and I will have more information on some of the new Nineteen Product for 2009.

That's it for now. I will try and make the blog posts more regular.