SIA Board’s Boarders: Catching Up With Sessions President Cindi Busenhart

Editor’s Note: When most people hear “SIA” they immediately think of the trade show, but SnowSports Industries America is much more than that. As a not-for-profit trade organization, it is run by its members and Board of Directors, of whom a third are from core snowboard brands with well over 100 years of collective industry experience. The SIA Board meets regularly to steer the organization’s goals, like increasing participation; services, like in-depth research data; and, yes, it’s trade show, to ensure SIA meets the needs of brands and retailers today, and in year’s to come.

We sat down with SIA Board First Vice Chair and President of Sessions Cindi Busenhart to get her thoughts on the changing state of snowboarding and the importance of coming to the trade show armed with a camera, a notebook and a stock of breath mints.

When and why did you join the SIA board?

David Ingemie is a very persuasive man, haha! Honestly, I was honored to be asked to be on the Board of Directors. The reason I joined the SIA Board is because the Board has always been comprised of visionary directors and diverse influential leaders that I respect. And, as you can imagine, there is never a dull moment in the room with that motley crew. We need to get more women on the Board, or I may be forced to learn how to use a urinal soon!

What are your goals in steering SIA’s direction to better support the sport of snowboarding and its retailers and brands?

The beauty of the Board is that not one single member can steer the direction of SIA. SIA fully supports snowboarding, which supports the retailers whether they know it or not. So to me, that means that what we are all striving for is better brand awareness. We focus on what SIA can do to communicate and create better awareness of the SIA brand and what the SIA brand offers, such as amazing reports, legal counsel, a very exciting new hard goods recycle program and keeping snowsports relevant with programs like the Learn to Ride Program. The SIA team is always looking for ways to better support the sport of snowboarding and the retailers alike.

What resources does SIA offer retailers that they might not know about?

I am a huge supporter of Kelly Davis, the Research Director of SIA. She is a statistics analysis machine. She can tell you what moves the meters. From a soft goods or apparel perspective, I appreciate knowing what moves jackets the most! For example, is it a certain price point or is it a soft shell? If the retailers haven’t used the reports that SIA offers, they should! Those reports will assist them in making successful buys and leaving less to their magic balls.

How has the snowboard side of the show changed since you began coming and what are your goals for the future?

We talk about this all the time in our offices. For the first 10 years or so, Sessions had crazy themed booths. As a matter of fact, that was something I loved about my job at the time. We had everything from a Carnival themed booth to an Alice in Wonderland themed booth and then our team thought no one took our technical outerwear seriously so we went all corporate! The snowboard side of the show has been much like our booth: starting out super organic and relaxed. Now, snowboarding is no longer a new sport, it’s a strategic business with informed consumers and industry professionals.

For Sessions, our future goal would be to combine and balance the original crazy good energy and spirit of the snowboard tradeshow atmosphere with the professionalism of this now developed market.

What tips do you have for retailers attending the show to make the most of it?

Arm yourself with breath fresheners. No seriously, come prepared. Make a check list, take notes and bring a camera. A picture says a thousand words and is a reminder of what you liked. I know this sounds incredibly OCD, but familiarize yourself with the layout before the show and schedule your appointments accordingly to make the best of use your time.