BUT STILL LOOKING FOR MORE DEALER TURNOUT
[dropcap]B[/dropcap]y most accounts, the 2015 edition of the American International Motorcycle Expo (AIMExpo) was a success for both the public, which joined in a round of applause to end the show at the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) along with the 566 exhibitors that signed up for the event’s third year in Orlando. While the two trade days held on Oct. 15-16th were not as well attended by dealers as some would like, the number of industry professionals and dealers was up slightly from last year at 3,388. Dealers who made the trek got what they wished for with a full slate of educational seminars to a host of new products and exclusive manufacturer unveilings before the show opened to the public.
Show officials said that registrations were up, yet there was only a small increase in dealers from last year. There was, however, a noticeable bump in the number of “industry professionals,” which implies there was a lot of business going on anyway.
Topping the highlight reel was the inaugural Championship of the America’s that featured some radical bikes from top custom builders in North America. These bikes and builders were met with a standing ovation during the award ceremony that crowned builders in four unique classes and culminated in choosing a Free Style champion to represent AIMExpo at the AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building in Cologne, Germany.
Among the winners was Bill Dodge from Bling Cycles who won the Retro Custom Class, Jim “Preacher” Goodrich from Preachers Hot Rod Cycles won the Performance Custom Class and Dell Battle from Dangerous Dezigns won the Street Custom Class. The Free Style winner who was selected by his peers and AIMExpo judges alike was Jeremy Cupp from LC Fabrications. A masterpiece of craftsmanship, Jeremy built a flawless chassis from raw metal to house a motor constructed with a Ducati head mated to a Buell bottom end. Congratulations to Jeremy and good luck in Cologne!
Returning as a featured event at AIMExpo, the AMA hosted its 2015 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony inside the convention center on Saturday night. Kicking off the night was a VIP reception leading into the awards ceremony. Emotional acceptance speeches highlighted the night, and the evening came to a close with a particularly heart-felt speech from Legend Award Winner Wayne Rainey. The class of 2015 included Alex Jorgensen, John Kocinski, Keith McCarty, John Parham, Rodney Smith and Richard Teerlink.
For the second year, AIMExpo handed out booth awards to exhibitors that went above and beyond with the design of their respective booth area. Four different awards were given – a rookie award for a large and small booth and a veteran award for a large and small booth – with exhibitors being scored on booth design, branding, creative design, interactive experience, social media, staffing and overall appearance. This year’s rookie winner for a booth under 400 sq. ft. was Standard Motorcycle Co., while the rookie winner for a booth 400 sq. ft. or larger was Bates Footwear. In the returning exhibitor class, the booth under 400 sq. ft. winner went to Forma Boots, and the 400 sq.ft. or larger booth taking the top honors was BMW Motorcycle Owners of America.
On Wednesday night, special guests and media were invited to Ace Corner on Livingston St. in downtown Orlando to take a tour and see a presentation on the progress for Ace Cafe’s new North American location set to be open for the show next year (scheduled to open in the first quarter of ‘16). Ace also staged a “Saturday Night Rock Up” concert as part of the inaugural AIMExpo Garage Party featuring Memphis rockabilly artist Rockin’ Jason D. Williams.
With more exhibitors on hand, there was plenty for dealers, consumers and the media to see and engage with. And now that AIMExpo has become part of the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC), the show is poised to become even more integrated with industry next year. Is it too early to start making plans for next October 13-16th in Orlando?
“The MIC partnership will help us strengthen our partnership with the OEMs, who will, in turn, help to increase the dealer participation at the show,” said AIMExpo’s Marketing Director Kevin Nixon. “All of this said, the show was fantastic. Dealers spent more time on the show floor, consumers came in larger numbers and the addition of new features such as the Keynote address, expansion of the PSI@AIMExpo curriculum, and the MotoAmerica Night of Champions helped cement the message we will be promoting in 2016: AIMExpo – Where You Need To Be!”