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Royal Returns to Backer Spring Show

Posted: January 21, 2011, 2:50 p.m., EDT

Distributor Royal Pet Supplies is returning to Backer’s Annual Pet Industry Spring Trade Show, scheduled for April 13 to 15 in Atlantic City, N.J., after a seven year absence.

“Due to the passing of our former president, combined with changing industry climate, we chose to do our own show for the last seven years,” said Gary Nocera, Royal’s executive vice president.

Royal founder and president Bill Augenstein died in April 2004, the year Royal pulled out of the spring show. The Brentwood, N.Y.-based distributor, which offers a wide range of aquatic supplies, as well as dog, cat, small animal and bird products, has held its own showcase since then and still plans to hold the event in September. However, Nocera said, Royal is looking to re-enter industry-sanctioned programs and “re-energize” the aquatics segment at the spring show.

Spring show organizers anticipate Royal’s presence will help draw more retailers and aquatic exhibitors back to the annual event.

“We’re seeing a marked increase in the number of aquatic exhibitors this year, and we attribute that in part to Royal’s decision to exhibit,” said Backer trade show director Collette Fairchild.

By mid-January, several other manufactures and distributors in addition to Royal had signed up to return to the show after an absence. They included SeaChem Laboratories, which lasted exhibited at Backer Spring Show in 2004; Fauna Foods and Eheim, both of which haven’t exhibited at the show since 2007; Rolf C. Hagen and United Pet Group, both which haven’t exhibited at the show since 2008; and  PetEdge Dealer Services, which last exhibited in 2009.

The 23rd annual spring show has undergone some major changes of its own. Backer announced last summer that the 2011 show was to return to Atlantic City after spending several years in Baltimore, Md. The decision to move the show back to the Garden State was based on attendee feedback, organizers said. In addition to the new location, this year’s show features a new weekday-only format.

Backer expects this year’s show to draw 550 booths and more than 6,500 qualified buyers.

“Both the exhibitor and attendee count could be higher, however, with the return to Atlantic City and reduced hotel rates,” Fairchild said.

Last year’s show in Baltimore attracted 224 exhibitors and nearly 4,900 buyers.

In addition to the product exhibition, Backer once again will offer a wide variety of educational seminars. This year’s lineup includes:

• Mary Oquendo and Beth Cristiano: Pet Tech Pet First Aid and CPR ($99 fee)

• Shawn Dooley: Improving Your Selling and Merchandising Skills

• Chris Bessent, DVM: Joint Support: Beyond Glucosamine

• Tom Shay (two seminars): Power Promoting Ideas; Pricing Strategies for Profits Plus

• Vicki Lynn Morgan: Managing and Keeping Good Employees

• Patrick Yates: Internet Marketing and Social Media Campaigns (both beginning and intermediate/advanced seminars offered)

• Barry Berman: Buy Better, Get Technology Help with NexPet’s Retailer Co-Op

• Patrick Donston: Aquatics Summit

• Sue Zecco (two seminars): Grooming the Golden Retriever (demonstration); Getting the Most out of Your Grooming Tools and Equipment.

Backer and Royal will co-sponsor a special tropical-themed event for registered buyers on April 14 at 7 p.m. at Harrah’s Resort & Casino. Details on complimentary admission tickets will be available at Backer and Royal Pet Supplies’ websites beginning in early March.

Also, buyers will have the chance to win up to $10,000 in cash and a new Mercedes in Backer’s Treasure Hunt Contest. The contest invites buyers to answer a series of exhibitor-related questions each day. Winning entries will be drawn daily and awarded cash. The top contestants get a chance to drive home the Mercedes, which will be displayed on the exhibit hall floor. <HOME>

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