Business Rush!

NASGW Expo Launches New Business Year

By Jade Molde

Nearly 2,000 industry professionals attended the 42nd National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers (NASGW) Expo & Annual Meeting, held in New Orleans, Oct. 27–30 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. With the amount of business conducted and orders filled, the NASGW Expo provides the spark to launch the New Business Year each year. Attendees from 46 states and 12 countries were at the event, which featured 69 new exhibitors. In total, the 2015 NASGW Expo had 276 exhibitors in nearly 55,000 square feet of exhibit space.

In his first Expo as NASGW President, Kenyon Gleason said show attendees had many positive things to say after attending the event.

“We had many people tell us this was the best show they had been to, as the show provided numerous opportunities for them to share their products with buyers,” he said.

Although 2015’s early troubles in the marketplace are in the “rearview,” Gleason admitted the industry is still recovering.

“In talking with our members, I sensed a real strong positive vibe, as they pointed out the opportunities they had to sell their products and see what other manufacturers were doing,” he noted. “But I don’t think we’re completely out of the hole we were in — we have it in the rearview, so we’re close.”

According to Gleason, many companies in the industry have embraced and championed the two-step distribution model.

“There are certain manufacturers that use distributors only, so they believe strongly in it. I read Ruger CEO Mike Fifer’s comments (transcript of Ruger’s Q3 2015 earnings call Nov. 5, 2015), where he highlighted that using two-step distribution allows his company to focus on designing and manufacturing products. Folks like Fifer remain completely committed to the model. At NASGW, we need to continue to do our job and let the industry know about the values of two-step distribution.”

In letting the industry know about the values of two-step distribution, Gleason added NASGW is going to communicate its message to the industry in 2016.

“Our goal is to tell people more often and in a more compelling way who we are and what we do, and why two-step distribution is relevant. Some manufacturers are consumer-direct, use sales groups, big-box stores, etc., to spread out their supply channel. Our members look at how to solve a lot a problems for everyone in one fell swoop by getting access to the retail community, sales channel, credit and more — which our folks are experts at.”

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Helping to kick-start the 2016 New Business Year, the 42nd NASGW Expo & Annual
Meeting had nearly 2,000 attendees and more than 270 exhibitors.

Value Of Two-Step Distribution

Over 450 members met at the Annual Awards Dinner & Reception to kickoff the 42nd NASGW Expo & Annual Meeting. Top manufacturers were recognized for their commitment to the two-step distribution model, and NASGW presented checks to several industry organizations. To commence the Awards Reception, NASGW Chairman Pete Brownell addressed attendees on how the Expo provides a platform for collaboration and new partnerships.

“The NASGW Expo is the place to start forging new relationships, connect with old friends and understand one another’s struggles. This is the place where we — the NASGW — leverage our collective bargaining and brainpower to create meaningful, long-lasting value for all of us,” he said.

Even though there’s uncertainty in the marketplace, Brownell noted the value of the two-step distribution model is constant.

“2015 has been a year of fluctuation and uncertainty in our industry. We all are experiencing a great deal of change, which isn’t always a bad thing,” he added. “With an uncertain marketplace, there is one thing that remains constant — the value of two-step distribution. Now more than ever, it’s important for us to be consultants, inventory control specialists and business coaches to our customers.”

Brownell also emphasized the importance of relationships in growing the industry during difficult periods.

“It’s no secret: Times have been tough for this industry. It’s the relationships we have with the competitor across the table that will carry us forward. For us to prevail, we must all stick together,” he added.

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The Expo provides attendees with an abundance of face-to-face networking opportunities.
NASGW President Kenyon Gleason says one of the association’s primary goals in 2016 is to
let the industry know what NASGW does for its members and “why two-step distribution is relevant.”

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Industry Companies Recognized

NASGW’s Leadership Awards are presented to top optics, accessory, ammunition and firearms manufacturers and importers who best demonstrate a commitment to the two-step distribution model, and who provide outstanding value and service to customers. Wholesaler members rate the performance of manufacturers on four criteria: distribution policy; marketing, sales and promotion; logistics and operations and NASGW and industry support.

In Optics, the 2015 Manufacturer of the Year was awarded to Leupold & Stevens. “It is an honor to be recognized by our distribution and specialty retail partners, and one we deeply appreciate. They help us reach our core hunting and shooting customer throughout the country each and every day,” said Bruce Pettet, Leupold & Stevens president and CEO.

Birchwood Casey was recognized as the 2015 Accessories Manufacturer of the Year.

The 2015 Ammunition Manufacturer of the Year Award went to Hornady Manufacturing Co.

IWI US was selected as the 2015 Importer of the Year. “I want to thank all of the employees back at IWI US and IWI Israel, who worked hard every day this year, making this award possible. I’m proud of our team and I’m so happy that they get to be recognized for all they do,” said Michael Kassnar, IWI VP of sales and marketing.

Ruger was recognized as both the 2015 Firearms Manufacturer of the Year and Innovator of the Year. “On behalf of the over 2,000 Ruger employees, I want to thank NASGW for this recognition and both of these awards,” said Chris Killoy, Ruger president and COO. “Ruger remains committed to the two-step distribution process and continues to strive to bring exciting new products to wholesalers, retailers and consumers.”

The NASGW Chairman’s Award was presented to Wayne LaPierre. “Wayne’s influence in the shooting sports industry is undeniable. He has been an incredible leader, and I am honored to present [this award],” Brownell said. LaPierre was also the featured speaker at the Awards reception, where he informed attendees on how the NRA is continuing its fight against the anti-gun/anti-industry movement in Washington and state governments.

In addition, Jack Baumler, principal of W.L. Baumler Company and NASGW director, was presented NASGW’s Lifetime Achievement award for his service to NASGW and the industry.

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(Top) NASGW made several charitable donations, totaling $120,000, to four industry
organizations — including $25,000 to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. (Bottom)
Ruger was recognized as the 2015 Firearms Manufacturer of the Year and Innovator of the Year.

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Charitable Donations

In conjunction with the annual awards, several charitable donations were made by NASGW to industry organizations — totaling $120,000. NASGW donated $25,000 to both NSSF and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and $20,000 o the Youth Shooting Sports Alliance (YSSA). Additionally, NASGW donated $50,000 to the NRA-ILA (Institute for Legislative Action).

“The generous support of the NASGW will help to enhance CSF’s mission of working with Congress, governors and state legislators to protect and advance hunting, angling, recreational shooting and tripping across the country. We appreciate this on-going partnership,” said Phil Hoon, CSF corporate relations director.

Save The Date

This year, Gleason says NASGW is making a focused effort on working with its retail partners to benefit the industry.

“There’s a lot of potential for our organization, as we’re working on becoming more open to all components of the channel. There are a lot of opportunities of us to tap in to — such as collaborating with our members to grow the wholesaler contribution of the channel and find ways to benefit their bottom line,” he said.

The 43rd NASGW Expo & Annual Meeting will be held October 25–28 at the Kansas City Convention Center in Kansas City, Mo.
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