So far this winter I’ve gone alpine touring, I’ve ridden lifts and alpine skied and telemarked down groomed runs and on deep powder days, I’ve skinned up my local ski resort, I’ve Nordic skied, I’ve gone snow shoeing, and skijouring with my dog. And at some point SIA had a touchpoint on everything I’ve accomplished already this winter, and it’s only January.
With all the talk about the moving around of trade show dates, political wrangling out in Utah, and who’s going or not going where, sometimes it’s easy to forget why we are actually in this business in the first place. This business of snow.
As we were getting closer and closer to what, for me, has become one of the critical weeks of my winter each year, especially in the last half dozen years here in Denver, I started chatting with the industry folks I interact with on a daily basis to see if they were as excited as I am about the upcoming SIA SnowShow, which kicks off at the Denver Convention Center January 25 with the Industry + Intelligence day.
“SIA is a key partner that connects everyone with a passion for winter sports from brands and retailers to innovative technology providers,” Matt Nakari told me. Nakari first attended SIA in 1994 in Las Vegas, and is currently Sales Director of Centric Software, who is hosting a panel discussion at SIA on January 26 called, “Field Testing on the Go: Product Performance Meets Mobility”. Centric has been an SIA member since 2016. Formerly Senior Operations Director of New Product Creation at Crocs, Nakari has over 20-years of experience in the outdoor industry and transitioned to Centric Software in 2014 bringing extensive product development knowledge from companies like Spyder, Airwalk Snowboard and Pacific Trail.
But that’s just one face behind an industry that is often much broader than we even realize. This year’s SnowShow is being said to represent, and showcase, just the beginning of some of the positive changes the member-driven group has undergone this past year.
“In the face of the ever-changing retail landscape,” Chris Clark, Sales Director for G3 told me, “national trade shows like SIA are an important aspect of the community coming together and talking face-to-face. The retailer-to-vendor communication is the most obvious, but there’s also vendor to vendor, retailer to retailer, nonprofits, media, athletes – the list goes on.”
“These are topics and conversations that, when taken piecemeal, don’t carry the weight and the importance as can happen at SIA, where the density and volume of conversation really helps illuminate the common themes and concerns for our customers, our brand and the entire snow-sports industry,” Clark said.
I think sometimes do we not only forget that SIA touches winter sports at every level and every entry point, from snowshoeing with your dog to Nordic to competitive snowboarding to daily ski school, and the retail landscape in between sports and in between seasons, but it’s an international gathering point for the snowsports industry as it exists in today’s world.
Corroborating my theory, General Manager at Active Brands North America, Henrik Lumholdt, gave me a little insight into how the upcoming show affects his sales agency. “For Active Brands, a European company with multiple ski brands, SIA continues to be the most important venue for us given the concentration of ski specialty buyers at the SIA trade show. While other shows have grown over the past years, we find that ski/snowboard market continues to focus on SIA as best place to see a concentration of the leading snow brands in the market place, he said, adding, “we find that SIA is the one place we can exchange information specific to the snow business, not just general winter sports – which is helpful to our business.”
Sitting here looking out my window on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the snow is coming down. And last week we were all skiing powder in Utah, so it’s easy to be optimistic. But Europe is having a harder year.
“We are a Norwegian brand and looking to grow our presence in the North American snow sports market, and nowhere else in the U.S. can we gain access to so many industry retailers, influencers and insiders all at the same time,” said Sweet Protection’s Johnnie Kern about the brands trip to Denver next week. “It gives us an opportunity to properly showcase our brand and tell our story in a way that we simply can’t do otherwise. For us, this is the most important show in North America…we’ve made the decision to skip Outdoor Retailer because we believe this is our audience and we will get the most for our time and money by exhibiting here in Denver at the foot of the Rocky Mountains.”
And while everyone has their own viewpoint and reasons for attending various shows throughout the year, it’s snowing hard in Colorado, and I am really looking forward to seeing everyone in Denver and Copper Mountain the last week of January.