This weekend, snow sports buffs will make their seasonal pilgrimage to the Boston Ski & Snowboard Expo, the annual kickoff for winter sports in New England.
Friday also marked a brand-new chapter for the institution.
Bernie Weichsel, whose Waltham-based BEWI Productions has produced the expo for 38 years, announced Friday that he has sold both the Boston and Denver ski expos to Snowsports Industries America for an undisclosed price.
Weichsel, 71, said the timing and nature of SIA’s approach led him to believe that this was the right opportunity to sell the operation.
“I want to do some other things in my life, I’ve been doing shows for 53 years, my first was in 1967 – I’ve been getting a little tired, don’t have the energy I once had, so it’s time to pass it on to a new generation,” Weichsel said.
Next year, the Boston expo is moving to the Hynes Convention Center.
Weichsel said he initially wanted to pass along the expo operations to his two assistants, Christine Donovan and Brenda Doll, but they indicated he should listen to other offers. Weichsel liked what he heard from SIA about its plans, and, with a guarantee of two-year minimum contracts for Donovan and Doll, he signed off.
“What I find very positive is that it will be good to have fresh eyes looking at this, and I know SIA’s planning to bring in some people who are in the entertainment business — that’s great,” Weichsel said. “Everything has to be refreshed now and then. I don’t see any downside to this at all. The snowsports industry will be well served, the consumer will be well served.”
Nick Sargent, president of SIA, said he is “very happy” about the transaction, and that SIA will maintain the BEWI-created spirit while modernizing the expos.
“What we plan to do is we’ll take a new approach to retail being more inclusive,” said Sargent. “Retailers that participate will showcase vendors in a new and different way, making them a more integral part and creating a new and vibrant atmosphere, and we plan to take the foundation that BEWI has created over the last 40 years and update it to modernize the expos and make them more interactive and experiential.”
Sargent said snowsports in the United States is a $6.5 billion business annually, one that feeds into an $887 billion outdoor business.
The expos in Boston and Denver, with more to come, serve a vital role.
“This is the way our industry, our suppliers, the resorts, and the retailers speak to the consumers, the consumers being the end-all for all of our businesses,” Sargent said. “It’s mainly awareness, but it really creates experiential and interaction with the winter sports enthusiast and potential enthusiasts. It’s our first step into introducing new product for the current winter and getting new enthusiasts interested in the sport in a meaningful way.”
The Boston expo runs through Sunday at the Seaport World Trade Center.