February 1, 2007
Big Changes and Good News from Albuquerque

If you have been checking the daily updates at KiteLife.com, you know that there were big and productive changes at KTAs little show this year.

Last week I observed that this was a critical period for the Kite Trade Association. They have been losing members and momentum steadily over the past four years, and with the hiring of a new management company that didnt quite work out, many of us wondered if the group would even survive the 2007 gathering without a motion to disband.

Meetings

The KTA Board stepped up with a series of dramatic proposals for organizational change. They returned to an experienced, kite-oriented management firm. They eliminated old rules dictating that smaller firms could join but not vote in the Association. They streamlined the Board and committees. And they revamped budgets so that the minimum dues level dropped from $150 to just $50. The aim was to reduce barriers to participation and encourage any legitimate kite business to be part of the process.

From the beginning, the Albuquerque convention seemed upbeat and enthused. Participation was certainly lower than past years. Exhibitors reserved smaller spaces which meant the overall show seemed smaller. But by concentrating the selling program into two compact days, hotel and food costs were reduced. A smaller exhibit hall seemed more full and more exciting. And the Board made the surprising choice to move to an urban setting where all convention programs trade show, educational programs, and banquets could be held in one hotel. This meant you were constantly in contact with kite people in the bar, in the hallways, and even in the elevator.

Gomberg Booth

Midway through the Show, a small group of women took Susie to lunch. Id been elected to the Board last January, and Id promised my wife that at the end of the 2006 transitional year, I would resign to focus on our own business. KTA was still looking at problems with several Board vacancies, no candidates, and a management contract expiring in four weeks.

In the Breeze HQ Kites New Tech

Im not completely sure what was said at this meeting, but when she came back, we had a full slate of Board candidates, a commitment of the management company to continue, and an agreement from Susie that I should remain on the Board. Six hours later, I was elected President of KTA. Believe me when I tell you I was not pursuing this.

WindStreamers AKA Into the Wind

I think KTA has turned a corner. They have streamlined their operation, become much more affordable and inclusive, and have a good Board and Management. The industry still faces challenges. But KTA has the means to once again provide resources and contacts that strengthen individual retailers and wholesalers. If you are in the Trade, I hope youll consider joining at the new dues level.

Flying Wings Premier Great Winds

The final night in Albuquerque, KTA presented their annual awards. I was the Master of Ceremonies and asked each Board member to come to the stage and announce results of voting. Susie would help hand out trophies.

JacKite Jelly Belly International Connections

With substantially larger firms in the room, we didnt expect to win anything. It became first a shock and then a bit funny when Susie got to hand several awards to herself!

  • Best New Product - WindStinger Pole / Gomberg Kites
  • Best Booth - Go Fly A Kite
  • Best 2006 Kite - Dopero / Gomberg Kites
  • Best 2006 Non-Kite Product - X-Launcher / William Mark
  • Oustanding Kite Festival - AKA Convention Ascensions
  • Best Mfgr Promotion - Gomberg Kites / Mega Flag
  • Best Retail Promotion - Into The Wind Catalog
  • Manufacturer of the Year - Revolution Enterprises
  • Retailer of the Year - Catch The Wind's Flying Things
  • David Checkley Award - Billy Jones
  • Gomberg Booth

    Were honored and delighted with our three awards this year. And Im looking forward to working with KTA this year and continuing the recovery.

    At 1 a.m. Tuesday morning, we arrived home and were up early to begin processing new orders. We have trips looming and new designs in the works. Were looking forward to the coming year and particularly looking forward to flying with all of you!

    Three Awards! Pretty cool!

    Next week, well introduce you to the WindStinger Pole voted best new KTA product for 2007.

    Best 2006 kite was the Dopero. That was a pleasant surprise since it is a unique piece used primarily by aerial photographers. But to celebrate the recognition, were discounting Dops by 20% through February 15.

    Dopero

    And the Mega-Flag? Well, we cant exactly put that on sale. But we do hope to fly it on a field near you soon! Let us know if you have some promotional ideas or opportunities.

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