Perched on a hillside on the edge of town, the Crowne Plaza Asheville Resort was extraordinarily well-suited to the IPMBA Conference. One of the reasons was the Expo Center. This 17,000 square foot structure was large enough to house the Command Post, the bike check, registration, lunches, AND the exhibit hall! Such an opportunity is rare outside of massive convention centers whose fees are far beyond the budget of organizations like IPMBA. It quickly became of hub of activity, particularly when the exhibit hall was open for business.
Providing a venue that encourages personal interaction between public safety cyclists and those companies they do business with is important to IPMBA. Even though many business transactions take place over the internet, often with little or no human contact, the importance of relationship-building has not diminished. In fact, one could argue that it is increasingly important, and those companies which do not invest in it find themselves losing market share to those which do.
One needs only walk through the exhibit hall for evidence of the role IPMBA plays in facilitating relationships. Exhibitors greet their customers by their first names and with hugs and handshakes, and the scene is at times more reminiscent of a family reunion than a marketplace.
The patriarchs and matriarchs are the ones who can be counted on to attend most – if not all – family gatherings. Companies like Sound Uniform Group (Bratwear/Olympic), MOCEAN, Patrol Bike Systems, and Volcanic Bicycles, which have attended for a decade or more fit into this category.
MOCEAN outfitted the conference instructors in royal blue shirts, a tribute of sorts to the Carolina Panthers’ trip to the 2016 SuperBowl, and also sponsored the exhibit hall reception fare on Wednesday night. Bratwear/Olympic kept up the tradition of providing distinctive shirts to the Command Staff, adding kegs of Carolina-brewed Catawba beer and live music by Melody Cox during the reception. Volcanic Bicycles supplied flag-themed lanyards to highlight their “hand built, Made in the USA Patrol Bikes” and provided hours of on-site mechanical support.
When someone brings a date to a reunion, it is tough to tell whether or not they will stand the test of time – and survive the family dynamics. After a year or two, however, they are well-integrated into the fold. Into this category fall Police Bike Store, sponsor of PESC and IC Night Operations and handy pen-highlighter-stylus combos for the welcome bags; The Safariland Group, which donated a Safariland-Kona Patrol Bike as a raffle prize; Nightlife District Operations and Tactics workshop sponsor Cygolite; innovative saddle maker ISM Saddles; and cold-weather necessity Bar Mitts.
Sometimes family members are absent for a year or two or even more, but they are always welcomed back with open arms. Cera Products returned with their rice-based oral hydration products, which provided relief to a significant number of attendees at the 2015 IPMBA Conference in Chandler, Arizona. After missing his first conference in almost 10 years, 4Bike-Police was on-hand with bikes, accessories, and duty gear.
Kryptonite swung by to sponsor Bike Theft: Stop it Now! and display the latest in theft-prevention technology and education. National Association of School Resource Officers provided support for the growing number of SROs who use bikes on duty, and NiteRider Technical Lighting returned to the exhibit hall with the newest model of the Digital Patrol with a siren and remote switch, as well as an array of other lighting products.
IPMBA is always welcoming new members. The newest members of IPMBA’s industry family represented a variety of businesses serving the public safety sector.
Bellwether Technical Apparel, long-established in the recreational cycling market, displayed their new line of uniforms. Launched first at the IACP Conference, this was their first large-scale exposure to the men and women who will be wearing their products. Tim Coppock reported that they show exceeded their expectations and they had plenty of comments and leads to pursue. IPMBA Instructors Jake Coyle of Castle Rock and Mitch Trujillo of Boulder Police are in the midst of a wear test; results to follow!
Borealis Fat Bikes teamed up with IPMBA Instructor Brett Iverson of Colorado Springs Police Department to offer a workshop about fat bike operation. Intrigued by the possibilities, Kurt Colson and Michael Riley took a pair home to Montgomery County, Maryland, after Kurt checked out the performance during the competition. Hopefully a review will be forthcoming.
News of the C3FT device spread like wildfire throughout the cycling community last year. This invention, the product of a collaboration between Codaxus LLC and IPMBA Instructor Rob Simmons of Chattanooga Police, enables police officers to accurately measure the distance at which a motor vehicle passes a bicycle, enhancing officers’ ability to enforce three-foot and similar passing laws.
North Carolina-based CopCycles LLC debuted a bicycle featuring fully-integrated audio, visual, communications, and tracking technologies designed to maximize the stealth, mobility, and effectiveness of patrol officers. Department or other logos can be added to the frame and/or the rack.
IPMBA’s merchandise supplier, EmergencyStuff.com, was on-hand with IPMBA Conference coins, hitch covers, coffee mugs, and other IPMBA logo merchandise.
Representing the category of protective eyewear was Popticals, glasses that offer wrap-around eye protection but fit into a pocket, a handy feature for those who often need to remove their sunglasses but don’t want to risk losing them.
Designed and engineered specifically for public safety use, Rapid Response Team Electric Patrol Bikes have been put into service by almost 30 departments in the North East and are available in various models, including a fat bike version.
SCS Racks introduced IPMBA to the SCS Magnum, an all-aluminum, anti-theft, heavy load bike carrier for cars, SUV’s, and trucks. This hand-built, made-in-the-USA bike rack looks like it will stand up to what Bob Hatcher of Delaware Police once described as “exuberant” driving – who wants to volunteer to take one to the driver training track and report back?
Support for IPMBA extends beyond the exhibit hall. iFORCE Patrol Bikes had a virtual presence and contributed a WTB wheelset for the auction.
The welcome bags were chock-full of fun stuff – flash drives from R&B Fabrications, custom IPMBA 2016 Whistles for Life, CeraSport supplements, Police Bike Store pens, NuGo Nutrition Bars, Mirrycle bicycle bells, Chamois Butt’r, ProGold lubes, Dirt Rag, Bicycle Times, EMS World, Police Magazine, LEPN, and Law Enforcement Technology. ProGold also provided supplies for the maintenance courses and firearms workshops.
The Product Showcase Silent Auction is an important source of funding during the conference, and this year, our contributors helped us raise $5000 for the cause. IPMBA thanks the following companies and individuals for their generosity: Bar Mitts, Bell Helmets, Bellwether, Bern Unlimited, BoundTree Medical, Bratwear, Cane Creek, Cera Products, Chamois Butt’r, Tim Cisler, Cycle Siren, Cygolite, Dave Dager, Dual Eyewear, Duro Tires, EpicID, First Cycleworks, H&H Medical Supply, Mike Harris, Hero Kit, iFORCE, ISM, Kramer Studios, Kroesen’s Uniforms, Kryptonite, Legacy Safety & Security, NiteRider, Rance Okada, Olympic Uniform, Patrol Bike Systems, Police Bike Store, ProGold, R&B Fabrications, Rocky Boots, Rudy Project USA, SCS Racks, Serfas, Gary Strang, Street Crimes Seminars, Swagman, Tifosi, Tiger Eye, TOGS, Mike Wear, and Zensah.