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.
There is a nomination committee that determines who occupies seats on the SIA Board of Directors. Their role is to make sure there is a balanced representation of brands from the various winter sports of Snowboard, Alpine, Nordic, etc. as well as the different product categories such as hardgoods, apparel, and accessories. I was nominated and invited to join the Board in 2008. I accepted the appointment for various reasons but mainly because I believe we are at such a critical juncture for snowboarding. I viewed it as a valuable opportunity to work with a diverse group of talented business leaders on common issues that impact the entire snow sports community and help contribute to these important initiatives from a snowboard perspective. I also feel like there is a huge misunderstanding of SIA and what benefits the organization provides to its members. For many years I just viewed SIA as the tradeshow. The reality is they are a well run non-profit organization that provides a slew of valuable and cost effective services to its membership.
What are your goals in steering SIA’s direction to better support the sport of snowboarding and its retailers and brands?
First and foremost as a trade association SIA’s primary goal is to provide the best solution for brands to bring their products to market. This involves a significant collaborative effort across the industry, brands, reps, retailers, resorts, all need to work together to help develop and progress the snow industry. Economic challenges, flat participation, bad retention rates, environmental concerns, shifting sales and manufacturing windows, rising raw material and manufacturing costs, the list of challenges goes on and on and the only true way to make a significant impact is as a collective and unified industry. Continual development of programs and services that can help brands improve their business operations. This is of particular importance to smaller new and emerging brands. Helping to promote awareness, participation and retention to create life long snowboard enthusiasts. Collaborative lobbying to make sure the best interests of the snow sports community is represented such as monitoring duties, tariffs, etc. on snow products.
What resources does SIA offer retailers that they might not know about?
As a member-owned trade association SIA is primarily focused on developing programs that are focused on suppliers however SIA does generate some valuable assets that can benefit its broader snow sports constituents. As an example for retailers SIA has developed a comprehensive retail to consumer marketing guide that offers over 20 different campaigns that cover various stages of the snow season. Shops can pick and choose what elements of the guide are of most value to them and customize programs as necessary. Shops that participate in the RetailTrak sales tracking program are also provided access to this valuable market data to help them better plan their business.
How has the snowboard side of the show changed since you began coming and what are your goals for the future?
I’ve been attending the SIA show since the mid ’90s. Obviously there’s been considerable amount of consolidation since that time. I’d say things were a little more freestyle back then. Like it or not gone are the days of floating your global production run on the advance payment you received from your Japanese distributor while you throw darts at pantone chips to decide which shade of green your next rasta/camo topsheet graphic is going to be. To be successful in todays environment both brands and retailers need to be equipped with the tools that allow them to analyze their business and make smart fact based decisions. It’s a continually and rapidly evolving market place and you need to adapt your business to those changes in order to survive. Creativity, passion and love for the sport combined with disciplined business practices is a potent combination.
What tips do you have for retailers attending the show to make the most of it?
Plan your time well. Take advantage of the fact that most of the brand principles are there. This is a great opportunity to strengthen strategic partnerships and discuss issues/opportunities. Talk to other retailers to share best practices, what’s working, what’s not, what’s next. Hang out with as many different people as you can, it’s great to see old friends but it’s also valuable to hear a different perspective. Some of the most creative and constructive conversations happen after hours away from the hustle and bustle of the show floor. Go ride before or after the show and take a friend.