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Vendor Newsmaker Q&A Henk Van Dongen

Thursday, May 11, 2017 - 07:00
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A: Our products are used by off roaders as well as the “mall-crawler” crowd. With over 2,500 accessories from Rugged Ridge alone, we cover a very wide range of products and therefore have something for everybody.

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Q: What are some of the on-the-scene events that you participate in? Do you directly sell a lot of products at these, or are they mainly to gain exposure for later purchases?

A: We do many consumer events during the year – events like Jeep Beach, Bantam Heritage Jeep Festival, New Jersey Jeep Invasion and Smokey Mountain Jeep Invasion to name a few. We are there to support our retailers and for branding purposes. We do not sell direct to the end-consumer, but with retailers available at the show we can easily direct the consumer to one of them to finalize the purchase.

Q: How are product ideas engineered and what are the deciding factors for bringing it to market? Do some product ideas initiate via suggestions from end-user customers?

A: We have a lot of Jeepers working at our company. Through our own experiences, market research and consumer-events feedback we have a steady stream of ideas that are being worked on by our engineering team. We also get feedback from our retailers on products they see a need for in the market.

Q: You’re in more than 90 nations; what are some of the factors considered and challenges faced when setting up an overseas operation?

A: There are a few different things to consider when selling to more than 90 nations. Language barriers, for example; in our international department our team speaks multiple languages besides English. Within the past decade we also have set up a warehouse in Germany to service most of our European customers as well as the Middle East. Our customers can choose to buy from our warehouse there or have it shipped from the U.S. It is a complex environment when you start selling overseas.

Q: You’ve had a long affiliation with the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA). What is the scope of your involvement and how it has benefited the company?

A: We have been a SEMA member for almost two decades. Over the past few years we have been more involved with PAC, SEMA Cares and other areas within the organization. SEMA PAC has been a big focus and benefit for our company as the regulatory field is one of the main “threats” we see. With PAC we stay on top of the new regulations coming down and how we can combat them when necessary.

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