Vail Valley companies heading to trade show
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – A handful of local companies are about to rack up some big travel miles to trade shows in the next couple of weeks. But show season starts closer to home this year.
Snowsports Industries America, the biggest industry group in the country, is holding its annual trade show Jan. 27-30. This is the second year the show’s been in Denver, after more than 35 years in Las Vegas. Dan Chalfant said it’s been a good change.
“In Vegas we’re just another convention,” said Chalfant, CEO of Avon-based Liberty Skis. “In Denver, people ask us how much snow we’re getting.”
Diane Boyer of SKEA, a clothing company based in the Vail Valley since the 1970s, is a longtime veteran of the show, and has been a member of the Snowsports Industries America board. She was an early supporter of moving the show to Denver.
“Denver has been very accommodating,” Boyer said. “They’ve given us great exposure.”
The annual Snow Show is one of the two biggest snowsports trade shows in the world – the other, the “ISPO” show, will be held early next month in Munich.
Those shows are just about all business. Last year, 3,100 exhibitors talked to at least some of the more than 18,000 buyers and others who attended. The general public isn’t invited.
“This is where you launch products for the following year, and where buyers come to purchase for the following year,” Boyer said. “We have lots of different styles and colors on display.”
Paul Hields, the CEO of Eagle-Vail-based Sportube, said the Snow Show is basically a don’t-miss-it event for both buyers and sellers.
“It’s really the only place in the industry to meet and greet these people,” Hields said.
Hields, too, is a big fan of moving the show from Vegas to Denver.
“This show should be near skiing,” Hields said.
Last year, and this year, too, the show is taking two days to provide on-snow demos of products at Winter Park.
But the business is done on the convention center floor. And when it’s time for business, the people at the booths don’t get around much.
“I’m going to be at our booth with appointments most of the time,” Boyer said.
That’s when people who make snowsports gear get to explain new styles and new technology to buyers.
For Chalfant, the Snow Show will be a chance to show buyers some of the new technology in Liberty Skis.
Next season’s line from Liberty is going to evolve “rocker” technology – the current hot setup in skiing that claims to allow better control in powder and more comfort on groomed runs.
Chalfant said Liberty is taking a “more subtle” approach to rocker that will allow more edge contact with the snow in turns.
Liberty is also going to show off what it says is a more-sustainable way of making skis. The company is getting all of its electricity from wind power, Chalfant said, and there’s bamboo in all its skis now.
“It’s green, it’s light and it’s strong,” Chalfant said.
Best of all, the local companies get to show off their new gear close to home.
Chalfant said while exhibitors spend most of their time at their booths, it’s easy to get outside at the convention center.
“In Vegas, they actually discouraged you from going outside,” he said. “In Denver, you can walk outside, see the mountains and the snow.”
And, even with the outdoors beckoning, both Chalfant and Hields said it’s a little easier to be serious about business in Denver.
“In Vegas it was a little more fun before business,” Hields said. “In Denver, it’s a little more business before fun.”