Why do you exhibit at MAATS?

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Thoughts from around the industry.

Duncan Good

General manager, Tallon Marine Ltd.,

Wanaka, New Zealand

We exhibit at MAATS to continue developing aftermarket sales channels in the U.S. marine market in order to complement our existing OEM focus. MAATS is the only U.S. marine aftermarket accessories show. The private buyer-supplier meetings guarantee us invaluable time with key buyers from companies we think would be a good fit for Tallon Marine, as opposed to hoping we'll cross paths with them on the show floor. MAATS also enables us to unveil new products to key aftermarket representatives and the marine media. Our goal is to sign on new distributors and strengthen our relationships with existing customers. MAATS has also proved successful for Tallon Marine on the international scene, as we've been able to pick up distributors from Canada, Argentina and Italy, so the opportunities are not only limited to the U.S. market, which does remain our primary focus at MAATS.

Phil Fram

Vice president of marketing,

The Marinco Electrical Group, Napa, Calif.

As one of the largest manufacturers of marine aftermarket accessories, The Marinco Electrical Group has to exhibit at MAATS, mainly to meet with our most important customers. The STEP conference remains the most efficient and cost-effective way for us to meet with our distributors face-to-face and in one location, rather than fly all over the country just before the marine buying season to see them. MAATS gives The Marinco Electrical Group the opportunity to meet with senior management of our most important aftermarket distributors, show them our new products, and discuss new merchandising, promotional and incentive programs for the upcoming season. We have several goals at MAATS. We aim to foster stronger relationships with our distributors and retailers, launch new products, and present new programs. We also seek to gather helpful feedback on the products introduced over the previous season, get a sense of the market, evaluate the success of last year's merchandising programs, and determine where The Marinco Electrical Group needs to increase focus for the coming year.

Ken Taranto

Vice president of galley products and aftermarket sales,

Dometic Marine, Big Prairie, Ohio

We go to MAATS because it is an extremely productive and cost-effective way to meet with a significant number of our distributors and independent representatives. We have accounts from all over the United States, Canada and South America that attend this event. While we periodically meet with our accounts at their places of business, this venue also enables us to show them our latest products, which we put on display in the exhibit hall. It is important to be there so we may jointly make plans with our existing distributors to grow our mutual business in the year ahead. There is always change in our industry, and this show enables us to learn of any relevant changes and to personally meet any new distribution entrants. At this show, we hope to ensure that our distributors are aware of and as excited about our new and existing products as we are.

Chris Drees

President, Attwood Corp., Lowell, Mich.

Attwood attends MAATS for two main reasons. First, it coincides with the NMDA STEP conferences, which allows us to communicate with our distributor partners in one convenient location. Second, a good majority of our retail partners will also be attending the show, which allows us to firm up any changes to next year store sets. The show provides the opportunity to meet with the majority of our aftermarket customers in one location. We are looking to clearly communicate the advantages and efficiencies in consolidating more business categories with Attwood while giving our customers a chance to view all of the new products that we are introducing.

John Kujawa

Founder and president,

Lumitec, Delray Beach, Fla.

MAATS is an excellent venue to strengthen our customer relationships. Unfortunately, we don't get many opportunities to spend time in person with some of our retailers throughout the course of the year. Of course, day-to-day business can be done over the phone and e-mail, but MAATS ensures that, at least once a year, we can reconnect and make sure we're doing all we can to support their business. Just as importantly, it is a great opportunity to talk through the technical aspects of our product line. LED technologies are deceptively complex, and misinformation is everywhere. With an ever-growing flood of imported products on the market, educated customers have become our greatest advocates. Obviously this market is changing dramatically. I firmly believe that companies that pull back and hope things will miraculously go back to the way they were are missing an enormous opportunity to play in tomorrow's arena. We understand that the industry overall has slowed. But, generally speaking, these kinds of retrenchment periods are good times to gain market share. I firmly believe that our investment activities such as MAATS will pay back large dividends over the long term.

Mike Reese

National sales manager,

Sea-Dog Line, Everett, Wash.

Sea-Dog has long supported industry trade shows. MAATS in particular is a great opportunity to not only roll out new products, but also gain valuable dealer feedback and get a sense of industry health from the aftermarket perspective. We also use the time at MAATS to meet with long-term customers as a way to leverage our overall time and travel expenses. Our No. 1 goal at MAATS is to build and maintain our brand. As a provider of more than 5,500 different marine products and accessories, we stress the overall benefits of working with a company like Sea-Dog, rather than selling the merits of a particular group of products. We do, of course, introduce new products at MAATS, but job No. 1 is to reinforce our ability to be a high-performing supplier of a broad range of items. Participating in MAATS is a great way to reinforce our brand in a consistent way to a wide range of industry people. Rather than specific sales goals or other quantifiable measures, we are looking to connect at MAATS - connect with dealers and customers, connect with distribution partners, and connect with the marine industry in general.

Jason D. Blackburn

Vice president sales and marketing

Thomas G. Faria Corp.,

Uncasville, Conn.

MAATS is an outstanding show for Faria, where we are able to introduce new products and have highly productive meetings with existing and prospective domestic and international aftermarket customers. Simply put, there is no other aftermarket show in the world that offers the unique format of one-on-one meetings, networking events and exhibit space. The customers that attend MAATS come well-prepared and are ready to discuss new business without distractions. Faria has increased its aftermarket business volume dollar as a result of the show every single year, and we look forward to another fantastic show in 2009.

This article orginally appeared in the July 2009 issue.

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