Las Vegas meetings and conventions provide the ideal showcase for new products and ideas
After completing its first four cars, Local Motors, an automotive company based in Phoenix, threw a coming-out party at the annual Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) trade show in Las Vegas. To Jay Rogers, the company’s co-founder and CEO, it was a perfect combo. SEMA is the premier event for automotive specialty products makers, says Rogers, and Las Vegas gave his Rally Fighters—low-slung beauties that look something like Ford Mustangs on steroids—a chance to really strut their stuff.
“Rally Fighters are designed for off-road racing as well as regular street driving,” says Rogers, “so where better to display them than in Las Vegas, where the streets stretch out to majestic desert sands?” The city exudes “a feeling of freedom, vitality and originality,” he adds, the very things his customers prize.
Rogers, a former Marine, a Harvard Business School graduate and grandson of the owner of the iconic Indian Motorcycle Co., has created a radically different kind of company that prefers open-source, bespoke manufacturing to the Henry Ford style of assembly line operations. Local Motors customers can customize their car any way they want, then visit the factory to help with the actual assembly.
“We make it a delightful experience for them,” explains Rogers, whose seven-year-old company has 59 employees who produce cars that go for up to $100,000 for an enthusiastic group of customers. “They get to know us and their cars in the process. It helps them value the investment.”
Trade show organizers and participants have long voted Las Vegas as North America’s top meeting and convention site. The city offers scale and cost-effective marketing, plus the crisp, clear weather that is ideal for taking car buffs out for test drives on the desert flats. “We’ve invested a lot in Las Vegas because it’s a great place for us to show our product and talk about our vision,” Rogers says. “It’s alive with possibilities.”