SnowSports Industries America: Snow Show, Outdoor Retailer merger a win for all | ParkRecord.com

SnowSports Industries America: Snow Show, Outdoor Retailer merger a win for all

After unloading expo, trade organization will be able to devote resources to other efforts

Nick Sargent, president of SnowSports Industries America, says the recent sale of the popular Snow Show is critical for the organization’s long-term success. The move frees up resources for SIA to assist its members in other ways.

SnowSports Industries America made major news last month when it announced what the organization's president called "the worst kept secret" in the outdoor industry.

SIA, a nonprofit trade organization that represents suppliers of snow sports gear, sold its Snow Show to trade expo behemoth Emerald Expositions, which will merge the annual event with its popular Outdoor Retailer Winter Market. The first of what will be called the Outdoor Retailer Snow Show is scheduled for January in Denver.

For many Utahns in the outdoor industry, the announcement signaled the final step of Outdoor Retailer severing ties with longtime host Salt Lake City after it became frustrated with the positions of Utah lawmakers regarding public lands. But for SIA, which moved its headquarters to Park City last year, the move signals a hopeful start to a new era.

Nick Sargent, SIA's president, said the deal will allow the organization to devote more of its energy to important areas other than the Snow Show. He estimated that, in recent years, putting on the event has consumed about 80 percent of SIA's resources. While the group will still be involved in the show's operations going forward, it can now pay more attention to its other core areas of focus: distributing research and data about the ski industry to members, lobbying Washington, D.C., to implement business-friendly policies, and supporting conservation and environmental awareness efforts.

"Our intention is to be able to do all of that work," he said. "But we've been purely focused on the trade show over the course of time."

He added that the shifting focus of the organization is particularly important in light of the rapid change the snow sports industry — and retail as a whole — is undergoing in the digital world. At a time when malls and big-name retailers are shutting down seemingly every month, and online giants like Amazon are expanding, it's critical for SIA to do all it can to help its members navigate the new terrain, he said. Specialty retailers, in particular, need as much assistance as they can get.

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"Everything around us is changing," he said. "So we have to adapt to that change and be more effective for our membership. … This is the time when we have to refocus and reprioritize our energies."

To that end, Sargent said utilizing relationships with a number of local entities will be critical. When the group moved to Park City, he indicated it would like to partner with organizations like the Park City Chamber/Bureau, Utah Office of Tourism and Ski Utah. Transitioning away from the Snow Show will allow SIA to develop those partnerships over the summer and fall.

"As we've cleaned up our house here … and are firmly planted in Park City, now we have the opportunity to work in partnerships with the Chamber/Bureau, with the city, with the state," he said. "Now that our time is freed up with the trade show behind us, we have the ability to explore those opportunities and really take the next step with all those conversations."

Sargent added that SIA's new direction is proving popular with its members. The Snow Show deal may be a stark reminder for Utah businesses of what they'll lose when the Outdoor Retailer departs, but the merger is something those in the snow sports industry have long clamored for.

"This isn't a new conversation," he said. "We've been trying to figure this out for years. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Everyone is excited for this consolidated show to happen in January. We're looking forward to giving them what they want."