PRI 2019: Race Trailer Suppliers Display Optimism For 2020 | Performance Racing Industry
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PRI 2019: Race Trailer Suppliers Display Optimism For 2020
December 13, 2019
For the first time ever, trailers at PRI are arrayed on the field of the expansive Lucas Oil Stadium, which adjoins the Indiana Convention Center where the PRI Trade Show is held.
PRI 2019: Race Trailer Suppliers Display Optimism For 2020

Trailers go hand in hand with motorsports. They haul vehicles, teams, tools and gear while often dueling as living and meeting quarters on the road and at events. So it’s no surprise that the 2019 Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Trade Show in Indianapolis includes a robust display of trailers, haulers and related products.

For the first time ever, trailers at PRI are arrayed on the field of the expansive Lucas Oil Stadium, which adjoins the Indiana Convention Center where the PRI Show is held. Previously the trailers occupied an outside venue, but the new and growing indoor setting couldn’t make exhibitors and attendees happier.

“Bringing it inside here has definitely helped,” said Bryan Keller of KB Trailer Sales, a Valley View, Ohio dealer that represents several manufacturers. A former drag racer himself, Keller and his business partner decided on a trailer business startup in 2013.

“We saw a need for this, and it’s taken off tremendously,” he said. “This is actually our first year bringing a trailer to the show. I’ve been here in the past as an attendee, and everyone who’s anybody is bringing a trailer here. So for us, if we wanted to be somebody, we needed to show up and bring a trailer.”

The popular show section also attracts exhibitors of trailer components and accessories, including Timbren Industries, a Canadian supplier of premium suspensions.

“Instead of using a standard, old-technology torsion axle or spring axle, we’re bringing a couple rubber-based suspensions and an air bag suspension to the show. They can be retrofitted on trailers that you currently have, or there are several other trailer manufacturers that are here that install them as a new feature on a trailer,” explained Timbren’s Barry Gluntz, who added that the smoother ride can minimize thrown-about gear and cargo while extending the life of both the trailer and rig.

Gluntz said the PRI trailer exhibition is the perfect B2B venue for his company: “It’s definitely our market. These trailer manufacturers will start taking an order and someone will ask them about a better ride, and they’ll say, ‘Air Ride—if you walk over there, that guy can show you a demo.’”

As for the overall business climate, insiders say that recent trade and tariff issues along with various other factors brought a slowdown early in 2019, with higher-end trailer makers and custom builders feeling the slump to a lesser degree. However, that downturn now appears merely a speed bump, and trailer suppliers are projecting an upward trend for 2020.

“I think we had a slow start to the year, but the market has more than made up,” explained Chris Hettinger of Victory Custom Trailers, a dealer of aluminum and steel race trailers, RVs, and toy and equipment haulers based in Metamora, Michigan. “We’ve set our own personal goals every year and have more than exceeded the previous year’s goals for the last five years. I think adapting to trends and bringing new product has helped with that growth.”

Whatever the coming year holds for Hettinger and the many other trailer exhibitors at the PRI Trade Show, the consensus is that there’s no better place to get a boost in the market than this trade-only event. The PRI Show continues through Saturday at the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis.