Sheila West was expanding her archery business from retail to wholesale. But, archery dealerships were notoriously unreliable as retailers. They typically set up shop out of devotion to bow hunting, not commerce. And all too often those businesses failed.
For her company's sake, West decided to help her would-be customers become more reliable. She struck on the idea of a trade show to instruct customers in business fundamentals. Now, once a year, West's Archery Center International (ACI) stages the Pow Wow. A recent affair drew more than 100 manufacturers and 250 dealers. The total turnout topped 600 attendees.
"The seminars have made me a better businessman, no question about it," says Dick Adams, owner of Golden Arrow Archery, in Milan, Mich. Adams attended the first Pow Wow in 1987 and hasn't missed one since. "My sales have grown to $100,000, and a lot of that is due to the trade show. I've been to Pow Wow seminars on inventory control, cash flow, and how to compete with the catalog outfits." Adams is now such a devoted customer that he buys almost his entire product line from ACI. West's company has increased its annual sales from $540,000 to $3.8 million, while establishing a customer base of more than 800 dealers.