SBJ/April 16 - 22, 2007/This Weeks News

Featherlite stays heavy in NASCAR through ’12

NASCAR-related business accounts for more than one-quarter of Featherlite Trailers’ sales, which makes maintaining its sponsorship in the sport a must spend, said Eric Clement, general manager and vice president of sales for the Cresco, Iowa-based company.

“Featherlite has grown up with NASCAR,” Clement said. “We’ve been able to build our brand with NASCAR.”

With its designation as NASCAR’s official trailer set to end this year, Featherlite has negotiated an extension through 2012 that keeps it associated with the sport that has helped spur its growth. An announcement is expected this week.

When Featherlite first partnered with NASCAR in 1992 — when it created its first race-car transporter for Richard Childress Racing — its sales totaled $29.4 million. By the end of 2005, Featherlite’s sales had grown to more than $225 million. More than a quarter of that total comes from Featherlite’s extensive network of team deals, as well as the trailers it sells that provide hospitality, marketing and vending around the racetrack.

While those deals with teams and vendors must be brokered separately from its NASCAR deal, that official status opened the door for many of its team deals. It also plays significantly into its marketing, Clement said.

Featherlite’s NASCAR-related marketing spend is about 4 to 1 against its official status agreement, which industry insiders value in the low seven figures per year. It handles all activation and marketing with a five-person staff in-house.

The NASCAR deal gives Featherlite the ability to provide a full-service operation inside the track, offering sales, service, repair and support to its customers. It also provides for contingency sponsorship decals on Busch and Craftsman Truck race vehicles.

“The NASCAR deal has afforded us the access to identify the needs and wants of the race teams and adjust our products to suit them,” Clement said. “It’s helped keep us top of mind and it adds to our credibility. Even if people don’t know who we are, they know who NASCAR is, and that association is a very big part of our advertising and activation.”

Of the 43 cars that start a Nextel Cup race, typically 40 or so will arrive at the track in a Featherlite hauler, said Clement, whose company conducts market surveys at events. In all, hundreds of Featherlite trailers will populate the infield and areas outside of the track, either serving as a home to drivers, a carrier for the cars, a mobile marketing unit or a vending center to sell T-shirts and caps.

Featherlite sponsors the weekly Most Improved Driver award in the Busch, Craftsman Truck and other NASCAR racing series.

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