NADA 2015, Part 2: Pitches From The Suppliers

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In NADA 2015 Part 1, we covered some of the ways manufacturers were engaging their dealer audiences. This time in Part 2, we’ll cover some of the third-party suppliers and the products they were pitching – everything from electronic tire tread readers to chocolate chip cookies. Let’s take a look.

It’s up to suppliers to seem as big and impressive as they can to their dealer clients. It’s not for nothing that the first rep I interviewed presented the Rolex he’d just received for 10 years with the company. “It’s the version with the green sweep hand,” he said. “About $14K.”


Maximizing service-department profit is a major focus, and Hunter Engineering demonstrated a system where, after rolling a car over some sensors and then clamping a measurement tool to each wheel, a service writer could quickly present fine details as to the condition of alignment and tire tread.


Almost immediately, Hunter’s trademarked Quick Check spits out alignment assessments…


…and tire tread readings, complete with a graphic rendering of the risk introduced by the client’s failing rubber. You’re going to drive your kids around in that slow-stopping deathtrap?


Indiana-based Explorer Van Company showed its current crop of customizations…


…which inside appear more like private jets than the velour-and-pressboard hokum commonly associated with custom vans.


You’re up at $70K for one that’s loaded for bear.


Right around then is when my new best friend Manny was getting kudos for his deep pours.


The CRM (Customer Relationship Management) company Elead had a bustling display.


Elead started at NADA decades ago, baking cookies on-site to demonstrate the treats they sold to dealers to give as gifts to their customers. When CRM became a thing, they went a step further to help dealers manage those relationships, complete with a call center. Cookies are still a big deal though – Elead still makes its own, on-site next to the call center. It was a loyal group at the display, with most reps I spoke to having at least 10 years under their (probably periodically expanding) belts.


The chocolate cookies were damn good.


Over at Sharp Performance USA (yep, of Bob Sharp fame, the storied Nissan racer who palled around with Paul Newman), the rep discussed keychains and promo items.  When I asked if it’s a tough business, he said, “Yep. Competitive and aggressive.”


Benmatt Industries occupies a larger footprint in that space, with everything from nail files to plastic-wrapped tissues, all dealer-branded.


I asked how much each of the lip balms cost the dealers. “A buck,” the rep replied. Benmatt works on a subscription model, like the old Columbia House record club. One month a dealer gets a box of balms, the next it gets one with microfiber screen cleaners, and so on.


Elsewhere, there were air compressors…


…dealer-integrated accounting services…


…and just some old-fashioned team building.


Also there was a Batmobile, I’m not sure why.


It did have some neat details.




The reps were madly offloading their undistributed swag as the last day wound down, and so I ended up with a big bag of stress balls.


The next NADA will move from SF to Las Vegas, which should provide the necessary destination-city pull to get manufacturers, dealers and suppliers under the same roof again. We look forward those pitches, along with the cookies.