CINCINNATI, Ohio – One of the most beloved prepper trade show promoters announced that he has stopped producing expos, at least for 2017.
Dan O’Hara, the principal behind Dano Productions, cited assorted reasons for the decision including the accelerated growth and success of Buzz Seating, his other unrelated business, that is a commercial contract seating company. He said growth of that venture required significant investments of time and resource allocation to properly manage that expansion. He could not do both.
But while Dano Productions has no immediate plans to host prepper expos in 2017, he left the door open for a return to the industry at a later date.
“Being prepared and sharing that paradigm with others remains a central focus for me,” O’Hara said. “I look forward to maintaining the relationships and contacts built over the last few years, and will, for now, continue to prepare, and will now have the opportunity to attend some of the seminars I’ve missed while being the show promoter.”
The decision surprised just about everyone in the survival industry and leaves numerous businesses in a scramble to find new shows where they can sell their products to the preparedness and survival consumers.
“I am so saddened by the news that Dan will not do events any more, but I also totally understand. In a short time Dan and Kit (Timmons) made an impact in the disaster preparedness world by giving opportunity to those of us trying to help people get prepared with a venue in which to reach out to individuals trying to learn,” said Eve Gonzales, owner of Trading Post in the Woods and a frequent exhibitor at Dano Productions events. “They were not about conspiracy theories, but about reality and the need to be prepared. They held a high standard as to the vendors they allowed into their show, which is a rare trait, as most event coordinators will take anyone regardless if their product is cheap or their behavior is unacceptable.”
Dano Productions’ prepper expos were held in major markets across the nation such as Atlanta, St. Louis, Cincinnati and others.
In June, O’Hara told a reporter for Paratus Business News that the prepper business seemed to be “declining” and that the expos around the nation were not drawing the crowds they needed to be successful. His observations seem to have some corroboration by other promoters in terms of ticket sales, as many expo producers also said they experienced disappointing attendance at some point in 2016.
Of course, not all prepper expos declined because of attendance. One trade show producer planning events in Wisconsin and Illinois had to cancel shows because financial backers failed to provide the support needed to produce the events.
One Door Closes, Another Door Opens
But while one company closes its doors on prepper expos, another is expanding.
RK Preppers, traditionally a gun show company based in Manchester, Iowa, is more than doubling the number of prepper shows it’s produced in the past.
In the two-year span between 2015-2016, RK produced just 14 prepper shows (five in 2015 and nine in 2016), but for 2017 the company is committed to more than 16 shows.
The company is using 27 years of experience in producing gun shows to branch out into the Survival Industry. The ultimate goal is to produce shows all over the nation.
Translating gun shows into prepper shows fits into RK’s core competency and should lead to a successful offshoot of the gun show business. For now, the company strategy is focused on the southeast where its gun shows are strongest.
“We’re attempting to get all the kinks worked out,” said Ryan Peyton, a spokesman for the company. “We want to get our dealer base ramped up before we branch out into other parts of the country.”
As a part of that expansion plan, RK will undertake the management duties for “Survivalcon” in Utah, one of the nation’s premiere prepper trade shows.
“We want to make it a special event,” said Randy Kehrli, promotions manager for RK Prepper Shows.
And while RK Prepper Shows have only scheduled 16 shows to date, more will be announced when the details are finalized. The company, which recently closed out 2016 with trade shows in Indianapolis and Pensacola, Fla., normally uses its website to publish its list of upcoming shows, but Paratus Business News was given permission to publish the list now.
- Jan. 7 -8: Huntsville, Ala.
- Feb. 25-26: Germantown, Tenn. (Memphis)
- March 18-19: Grayslake, Ill. (Chicago)
- March 25-26: Richmond, Va.
- June 24-25: Springfield, Mis.
- July 8-9: Raleigh, N.C.
- July 22-23: Huntsville Ala.
- July 29-30: Columbia, S.C.
- Aug. 19-20: Conway, Ark. (Little Rock)
- Aug. 26-27: Lawrenceville, Ga. (Atlanta)
- Sept. 30 – Oct. 1: Kansas City, Kan.
- Oct. 7-8: Charlotte, N.C.
- Oct. 28-29: Salt Lake City, Utah
- Date TBD: Columbus, Ohio
- Date TBD: Knoxville, Tenn.
Readers will soon find the RK shows, and all other prepper shows listed on the PBN Training and Trade Show Calendar.
Dano Productions Will Be Missed
Many vendors grew to love Dan O’Hara and his team (Kit Timmons and Steve Frey) not only because the shows and venues were high quality, but mainly because the Dano team members were all kind, and cared for the exhibitors.
“The hardest part of them not holding events is that we have been with them since their first event and they have become part of our family and we will miss seeing them. I do not know if anyone will be able to step in and do the type of job Dan and Kit did, but for peoples’ sake I hope someone does, as it is a much needed service,” Gonzales added. “It is a thankless job with high stress and long hours. It also requires financial backing and not many people are willing to make the sacrifice Dan has made over the past years.”
Others echoed her sentiments.
Rich Beresford, principal of Around the Cabin, had only worked with O’Hara for a year, but called the operation first class and a benefit to the Survival Industry’s reputation.
Joe Alton, also known as Dr. Bones, who along with his wife, Amy, make up the Doom and Bloom team that wrote the incredibly popular and important book “The Survival Medicine Handbook” believes the Survival Industry will carry on, as someone like RK, will fill in the gap. But that doesn’t account for the personal feelings he has working with O’Hara and his team.
“In the year that I worked with Dan O’Hara, I found him to be extraordinarily supportive of the exhibitors and their efforts to prepare folks for disasters. No one gets rich putting on these shows, and the hard work that Dan and his team put into them is proof of his dedication to the preparedness community,” said Alton. “Dan will be missed greatly.”
What will be absent is that Dano Productions always invested in the high end accommodations for vendors by featuring pipe and drape in modern, clean venues, with close attention to ease of access for patrons and exhibitors. Dano Productions’ expos are considered not just shows, but events.
Offering comprehensive on-site exhibitor support including administrative services, complimentary move-in/out assistance – even fabricating exhibit structures – many exhibitors expressed how they appreciate and look forward to his well managed, organized, and promoted events.
It is his attention to those details that made exhibitors feel special and help to legitimize the public perception of the industry.