RV News Exclusive: New Trade Show Opens in Tampa This Week

Keller Marine & RV logo

Keller Marine and RV is having an inaugural Southeastern aftermarket show starting on Wednesday in Tampa, Florida at the Tampa Downtown Convention Center. It is the first time the Northeastern distribution company has held a convention-style show in the Southeast. The company opened a new Florida warehouse to serve regional retailers in 2018.

In just two days, more than 600 people will converge on the convention center to receive training, place aftermarket parts/accessories stocking orders and meet with more than 120 suppliers and Keller Marine & RVs’ staff.

The show begins Wednesday, Dec. 4, at 9 a.m. Eight rooms are reserved for a host of training sessions prior to the show floor opening. Seminar presenters include AP Products, Marshall Excelsior, Southwire, Horizon Global, Carefree of Colorado, LaSalle Bristol, RV Designer and Safe-T-Plus and many others. As an example of seminar topics, Lori Morrow, Keller Marine & RV director of marketing says the Meguiars presentation is specifically geared for motorhome dealers. It will highlight how to generate huge profits with motorhome detailing. The seminar is a new offering that wasn’t available when Keller held its annual show in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Photo of Tampa Convention Center

Other seminars will be geared specifically for RV technicians. The classes qualify for credits toward re-certification to keep the RVIA/RVDA certified/master accreditation. The classes will be conducted by Norcold, Lippert and Horizon Global.

Big Tampa Venue for Keller Show

The 30,000 square foot convention show floor has more than 120 aftermarket exhibitors presenting discounted retail store staple products and new aftermarket offerings for 2020.

Morrow says preregistration numbers indicate that more than 170 dealer/retailers will attend but last minute registrations keep pouring in.

“Dealers who want to come last minute can just show up,” Morrow says. “We will get them signed up immediately and then they can jump right in and attend the seminars or place orders.

“The absolute best pricing will happen on the show floor during those two days. In certain circumstances, attendees might see as much as 25 percent off select items. Attending the seminars may even qualify the attendee to extra discounts on the show floor. We have some surprises for dealers/retailers who attend, even if they show up last minute.

“Opportunities to win free TVs and other swag might be examples… again I want to save some of those special surprises for the people who make the journey and attend. It’s our first ever show in the south, so we want to save a few details and announcements for the show floor. I hate to understate this, but attendees will be happy they came.”

Morrow says an estimated 50 dealers from the Northeast plan to make the long trek to Florida. She says dealerships from as far away as New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania are coming.

“Some of our biggest dealerships attended our open house event in October and started putting orders in then, but they wanted to come down to Tampa too. We’ve been told they will complete their orders in Tampa, which is great, but I want customers to know they have until early January to get the discounted pricing,” Morrow says. “That said, all the best buys will only be available on the show floor, during the show.”

Next year the show is scheduled to move to Hershey Pennsylvania and will take place December 14 and 15, 2020.

Keller Marine & RV’s Preshow Show

As a precursor to the new parts/accessories buying show, Keller Marine & RV had a similar open house event in Port Trevorton, Pennsylvania, in late October.

The open house event also included seminars for RV technicians to gain credits toward recertification. During the two-day event, a Dometic and a Lippert training session was offered. Each day, 57 technicians received training credits by attending.

The event also had exhibitors and special show pricing. More than 85 exhibitors set up in Port Trevorton for the 300 dealers/retailer employees who attended.

The event gave its Northeastern U.S. dealer base an added opportunity to tour the distribution company’s new warehouse. The old Pennsylvania warehouse was destroyed by a massive fire several years ago, and while a replacement was quickly constructed, many of the company’s customer had not seen the new building.

Morrow says that while the open house was a huge success, it was merely a kickoff to the big show in Tampa.

“Our open house was a huge success because our customers were able to come and meet the people working each day to fill their orders. Building relationships was a big part of the open house,” Morrow says. “The training we offered worked out extremely well. We sent personal invitations asking customers to specifically come on one of the two days. By dividing our customers into two groups, each coming on a different day, we gave each and every one of them much more personal service.”

Mike Keller, owner of Keller Marine & RV wanted to be sensitive to the many businesses who might not be able to travel to Tampa for the bigger show in December. He says having special pricing available for those customers was really important to him. Pricing aside, he said sales was not his biggest motivation for having the open house. Offering training to help technicians be successful was a big priority but people meeting face to face was what was most important.

“It’s tough because we know some dealers like to get away from the wintry weather and having an event in Tampa appeals to them, but some customers need to stay close to home with the holidays approaching,” Keller says. “Our roots are in the Northeast and our relationships are what are most important to us. Good relationships define our values at Keller. We want to know our customers and have them know us, not just their route driver or their salesperson, we want them to know all of our people. When people know each other, they work just a little bit harder to make things the best they can be.

“Having suppliers there is part of that. We prioritize making strong relationships between suppliers and the customers. We want our customers to know the suppliers, because they are the experts on all the parts and pieces we deliver each day. While we are excited about the new show, we wanted to provide a local place where our employees, suppliers and customers could meet and build relationships.”

While Keller says having two events in two locations has been challenging, it is a testimony of the company’s dedication to service. He says a distributor’s primary role is “delivery.” He defines the word more broadly than one might expect.

Photo of Mike Keller, Lori Keller Morrow and Michael T. Keller of Keller Marine & RV.
The Kellers of Keller Marine & RV: Mike Keller, Lori Keller Morrow, Michael T. Keller

“We deliver parts and accessories because it’s what our customers need to be successful,” Keller says. “If we only delivered parts we would be failing our customers. We deliver training because it’s also what our customers need to be successful. We deliver a venue to create relationships because those relationships make our customers successful. We deliver a digital cloud-based ordering system at the show because its efficient and precise, making our customers successful. We offer programs to help our customers move product through the channel to the consumer because through that delivery it makes our customers successful. If there is any question, let me say it plainly, we deliver.”

Dealers wishing to attend the show in Tampa can just show up or they can call Teri Reichenbach at (800) 326-9766, extension 2223 or email [email protected]

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