ASR’s Perspective

Kevin Flanagan, group show director for ASR, recently sat down with SKATE Biz to offer his perspective on the recent Long Beach trade show, held January 23—25, 2003.

“I think the exhibitor presence was strong, considering the economic climate, he says. “We (ASR) were very happy.

Flanagan discussed a range of issues ranging from the continued significance of ASR in the skateboard industry to how ASR is addressing issues or concerns from both exhibitors and retailers. Asked how he perceives the general industry-wide skepticism toward ASR right now, Flanagan says, “I think the perception of ASR is one of mixed feelings.

“People appreciate gathering, being able to market and promote, to party, and the chance to sell themselves or their product to the rest of the industry. At the same time, there are people who would like to see ASR evolve. The retailers want to see the manufacturers at the shows, and the manufacturers want to see the retailers at the shows, he says.

Flanagan believes trade shows are a result of a partnership, and adds, “It’s the show organizers’ responsibility to provide an appropriate forum and to get the right manufacturers and buyers together.

ASR is working with GES—the decorator service at the Long Beach Convention Center responsible for labor on the trade-show floor—to address the issue of cost, with the possibility of a special rate for exhibitors.

Flanagan says the special-rate package would include a certain amount of labor, drayage (the cost of moving something across the trade-show floor), and having a basic stand built (i.e., two chairs, table, carpet, and electricity). “By grouping all of these items together, we’re working with GES to come up with a special rate, he says. “We see the benefit of having dedicated shows that bring the entire industry together. By doing so, Flanagan feels ASR creates an efficient marketplace and an exciting experience.

Indie Shows

Several companies who pulled out of the Long Beach ASR show this January held their own independent trade shows. When asked how ASR felt about this fragmentation of the traditional all-encompassing ASR trade show, Flanagan replied with optimism: “We see the benefit of having dedicated shows that bring the entire industry together.

“The independent shows benefit the manufacturers from a standpoint of being able to market themselves, but we see a limitation in terms of retailers’ ability to support these shows on an ongoing basis due to time and money. We support them one-hundred percent but believe that ultimately we’re better as a whole, and as an industry, then we are separated.

Looking toward the future, Flanagan anticipates the September ASR show in San Diego will have better attendance than the recent one in Long Beach. “ASR has an active line of communication with the manufacturers and the retailers, he says. “And we know there is an interest by everyone to create a show that’s relevant and well- received.

Flanagan further adds that the September show will have a stronger focus on skateboarding. “ASR views itself as a conduit for the industry, he says. “Specifically, I’ve spent many hours meeting with IASC and independent manufacturers to develop ways to continue to grow the industry as a whole.

“I think people look to ASR as a leader and expect us to continue to help grow the industry. ASR has been around for 21 years and has seen skateboarding grow tremendously. Now, due to economic conditions, people are hopeful that ASR can continue to be that vehicle of growth, says Flanagan. “When I say supporters—even those companies who’ve decided to do independent shows are still hopeful and supportive that ASR can be a resource to them in the future.

“I think everyone is backing us and wants ASR to be and to remain an institution for skateboarding, he says.