It is that time of year where shooting sports wholesalers and manufacturers are starting to prepare for the upcoming year. We may still have a few months left in the year, but planning out product launches, sales strategies, budgets, and marketing plans to promote products doesn't happen overnight. That is where the NASGW Expo comes into play. The NASGW Expo is a four-day event that brings together wholesale buyers and manufacturers to layout the sales plan for the next year. This event is closed to the public and attendees must be members of NASGW. The Expo is where the business side of the shooting sports industry happens. This year's Expo will be held in Pittsburgh, PA and we are all looking forward to seeing old friends, getting a pulse of the industry, and discussing ways to improve in 2019.
The Importance of Two-Step Distribution
Despite the advances in online shopping, the shooting sports industry has maintained a strong commitment to distributing products through wholesale for numerous reasons. These reasons include the difficulty within the supply chain of acquiring financing for firearms, warehousing of products, compliance regulations from the ATF, and the services that wholesalers provide which allow manufacturers to remain more nimble and focus on product development, instead of distribution. For many manufacturers, two-step distribution is the primary source for getting products into the hands of consumers. "We have some direct retail customers, but north of 75% of our business is through two-step distribution, so we are very much invested in this model." Said Bret Vorhees, the Director of Product Development at Walther Arms, Inc. "The vast majority of our business is through distribution, so the Expo gives us an opportunity to showcase all of our new products and get in a room with our major customers." NASGW and the NASGW Expo have been helping bring together wholesalers and manufacturers since 1953 and are committed to helping strengthen those relationships between wholesalers and manufacturers to ensure efficient and effective distribution of shootings sports products.
Getting Business Done
Unlike larger shows like Shot Show and the NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits, The NASGW Expo is quiet and very business focused. It allows key decision makers to come together for closed-door meetings to discuss market conditions, product sales performance, get a first look at new products, and plan out sales for the upcoming year. "For us to have these kinds of meetings, in a confined setting, it gives us a valuable opportunity to plan the business and grow the business," said John McLellan the Vice President of Sales & Marketing at O.F. Mossberg & Sons. "We treat this show as a planning session. For me, this is business planning." Without the Expo, it can be difficult and expensive for wholesalers to meet with manufacturers from all over the country. The week at the Expo is a condensed opportunity to get the major players in the industry together in one location. "The great thing about this show is we get to see all of our wholesaler partners in a fairly short period of time. If we didn't do it this way, we would have people out on the road, traveling to try and see everybody at a time of year that is busy. It would just be too difficult." Said Jason Hornady the Vice President of Hornady Manufacturing, Inc. "This is a very efficient week. It's a great opportunity to highlight all our new products with everybody, instead of having it drawn out over months."
Supplying The Dealers
The success of the shooting sports industry is very dependent on a healthy supply chain. The dealers need products to sell to consumers, wholesalers need products readily available to help stock the dealers, manufacturers need to supply the wholesalers so they can get products to dealers in a timely manner, and each step of the way everyone needs to keep accurate records for ATF compliance. The shooting sports supply chain is a well-oiled machine, and NASGW wholesalers play in important role in keeping things moving. They keep the pulse on what is happening at a legislative level, an industry level, a sales level, and they utilize these trends to keep products moving. The NASGW Expo is a crucial opportunity for wholesalers to make sure everyone is working together to get products to consumers.
Looking Back & Moving Forward
NASGW ExpoThe NASGW Expo is not only a time to plan for the next year, but it is also a time to look back at the previous twelve months, celebrate successes, learn from failures, and recognize achievement. Each year the NASGW, in partnership with the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), chooses the best new product in six categories; the best new rifle, handgun, shotgun, ammunition, optic, and best new accessory, as well as a best new overall product. The NASGW-POMA Caliber Awards were created in 2017 as a way to promote innovation and encourage advancement within the industry. The Caliber Awards brought a new level of excitement to the NASGW Expo, and we are looking forward to selecting the best of the best new products for 2018. Many of these products are currently being sold by dealers now, and some will soon be hitting the shelves, so stay tuned to hear who will be taking home the hardware this year in Pittsburgh.
Whether it's for a big game hunt, targeting shooting with friends and family, or just providing security and peace of mind, the heritage of our industry is rooted in our rights as Americans and we are all proud to carry on the traditions that so many are passionate about while maintaining excellence in safety and compliance.