Attendees check out exhibits at Stag-Parkway show

The RV industry’s 2014 national agenda is getting under way this week with two major league events – Stag-Parkway Inc.’s 25th Annual National Trade Show, Sunday through Wednesday (Jan. 12-15) at the Puerto Rico Convention Center in San Juan, and the Florida RV Trade Association’s (FRVTA) 29th Annual 2014 Florida RV SuperShow taking place Wednesday through Sunday at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa.

And the initial reports are all good from San Juan, a “special” moment for Atlanta-based Stag, the nation’s largest aftermarket parts and accessories distributor, which convened a dealer show with 157 exhibitors, 1,100 dealer personnel — 450 businesses represented in all — and a total of 1,700 attendees including exhibitors and Stag’s own staff.

“Yes, very special,” John Spaulding, senior vice president of marketing, told RVBUSINESS.com. “We started out as a real small national show in Texas 25 years ago and over that time we’ve progressively grown into an event that requires 80,000 square feet of exhibit space that we can pretty much own to run our educational programs and breakout rooms for special events. And holding it here in Puerto Rico’s a pretty special way to mark that anniversary.”

Spaulding added that when Stag first went into the show business 25 years ago, it did so with about 250 suppliers, 30 of whom are in San Juan this week. “So, we’ve got a long history of people who have been doing business with us and staying with us, which is one of the reasons that I think we have such a successful relationship with our suppliers and why people like coming to our event,” said Spaulding. “We have 14 companies exhibiting for the first time in Puerto Rico, and we believe that this venue had a lot to do with their interest in coming here.”

San Juan aside, Spaulding said Stag has indeed participated in the industry’s national upswing and posted an admirable 2013 in terms of sales, although financials for the privately held company are not released.

So, how well did Stag do last year?

“There are two ways to answer that question,” said Spaulding. “We’re owned by a private equity company (Linsalata Capital Partners Inc.), and our owners are very satisfied with the growth that we’ve delivered in 2013. We hit our projected numbers and they’re very pleased with their decision to purchase us in 2012.

“This year (2014) started out great. We’re exceeding our numbers in December and we know after looking at what this event’s going to pull in that we’ll have no problem exceeding our goals for January. And we’re expecting the same kind of growth in 2014 that we had in 2013.”

Spaulding, for his part, said that Stag will continue to focus on its educational programs in the year ahead. “We feel like there is a lot of retail business yet to be captured — business that is being captured in other market spaces like big box retailers, Camping World and those kind of places that, if our dealers were merchandising better, inventorying their parts better, having better POP (point of purchase) programs, using their software in their stores more efficiently to manage inventory, all of us would succeed.

“So our focus in 2014, as its been for the last four years, is education and making ourselves and our staff and our merchandising teams available to help. Any dealer who wants help to refresh their store, to improve the efficiency in their stores and drive profitability in their stores, we’re here to help.”

During the event, President and CEO Martin Street along with Stag’s senior management bestowed glass-blown “Peach Awards” from the internationally known Frabel Studio in Atlanta in the heart of the Peach State, upon its five top-performing supplier partners, including: Progress Manufacturing Inc., Provo, Utah; Stromberg-Carlson Products Inc., Traverse City, Mich.; TRC Electronics Inc, Montgomeryville, Pa.; Air Lift Co., Lansing, Mich.; Phoenix Products Co. Inc., Milwaukee; and AP Products Inc., Coldwater, Mich.