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Cutting Edge: Cruising the Exhibits at the "Chief's Show"

Conference attendees were treated to a viewing of first- rate law enforcement products: possibly the largest gathering of vendors ever,

January 01, 1998  |  by Rebecca Stone

"It's so big!" "I can't believe it!" "This is so amazing!"

It was also likely to be hugely lucrative. Many of the nearly 700 vendors exhibiting their wares at the International Association of Chiefs of Police's 104th Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida, this past October, anticipated a profitable outcome as a result of the "Chief's Show."

"The exposure is invaluable. Nothing can quite compare with seeing customers face to face and having them handle the equipment," said Joe Troiani, director of media relations for Glock, Inc., which introduced three new .375 auto pistols at the show. Troiani explained that while a sudden spike in sales isn't anticipated, due to the process by which most law enforcement agencies purchase equipment, sales are expected to increase throughout the year. "A show like this definitely deeps the line on the bar chart perpetually heading upward," he said.

While information was unavailable on what is expected in exact dollar amounts, many other sales representatives echoed Troiani's assertion that sales would tend to increase gradually, during the course of the year, due to the exposure received from the show.

"For us it's been outstanding. We introduced two new products and we've just been swamped," said Chuck Buis, a representative from Michael's of Oregon, which specializes in holsters and accessories. When asked if the company's sales will go up due to the show, Buis replied without hesitation, "Oh, yeah!"

Bob Weber of Safariland, a supplier of bulletproof vests and other products, saw a number of familiar faces at the show. "A lot of my customers came by the booth- our dealers, distributors, officers, chiefs. The show's been excellent."

Jim Cavanaugh, director of marketing of Armor Holdings, Inc., agreed. "The conference has been extraordinarily beneficial to us. We were able to display a multitude of new products to chiefs from all around the world," he said.

Said Ford Motor Corporation's State and Local Government Sales Manager Pat Howe, "We were very happy with the show, the attendance, comments from the crowd. It's the most important show for us. It's very professional and we always get intelligent feedback from decision makers." He added, "Our aftershow orders are right on schedule, if not ahead."

Other vendors, such as ITT Night Vision's Allen Thorton; Eric D. Crawford of Mace Security International; and Brain Felter of Beretta USA Corporation, all looked for future sales to rise because of their presence at the show.

Besides the obvious benefits of increased sales, many exhibitors claimed additional reasons for being at the show.

"We have a high concern for law enforcement in this company. We want to help them as much as we possibly can," said David W. Pisenti of Point Black Body Armor.

For Brain Felter, the representative from Beretta, "The main focus of our show is to define and expose new products on our market where they can see and touch them and become familiar with them. It's educational. And an educated consumer can make a good choice."

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