In the second of a series on the value SHOT Show provides our international visitors, our colleague and Editor-in-Chief at Gun Trade World magazine, John Hunter, talked with Dmitriy Sliusariev, Managing Partner of STVOL in the Ukraine. Headquartered in Odessa, STOVL.ua is a distributor of hunting and recreational shooting firearms, ammunition and accessories. The company, in business since 1994, maintains a strong presence in the shooting sports having sponsored the IPSC shotgun championship Benelli Cup, in Kiev, since 2010.
John Hunter: How long have you been going to SHOT Show?
Dmitiry Sliusariev: I have visited every SHOT Show dating back from 2003 and I always ensure I am there for the full four business days. In addition, I normally attend some international sales meetings on the eve of the event. This year’s SHOT Show was my 14th.
JH: Are you the only employee of STOVL who attends?
DS: Usually there are between four and six of us from STOVL who attend. I come across with my business partner and between two and four brand or product managers.
JH: Do you take advantage of the meetings and events outside of the hours the show is open?
DS: Yes. I would say that 99 percent of our business is done during the four days of the show, but some companies organize certain events such as international dealer/distributor meetings or shooting/testing events at nearby ranges the day before the show. For the first three days, our evenings are split between formal and informal dinners or get-togethers organized by our suppliers/partners.
JH: Why is SHOT Show important to your business?
DS: As an importer/distributor covering the whole territory of Ukraine since 2004, it’s essential for us to visit each international event to ensure we are always in touch with actual trends, new products, new brands and so on, as well as allowing us to maintain closer contacts with suppliers/manufacturers all around the world. In the case of SHOT Show, our company’s product/brand portfolio consists of somewhere between 60 and 65 percent American brands. American suppliers and American market trends are an A1 priority for us.
Until recently, we always used to combine meetings with existing suppliers while targeting new brands but, in the light of recent developments in Ukraine in the last couple of years, we have seen dramatic changes to our domestic market demands. The main issue has been Russian aggression leading to annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and an open military invasion of the eastern provinces. This has resulted in changes to consumer behaviour. So the past three SHOT Shows we have mainly focused on targeting brand new suppliers and brand new product groups. Essentially, these are more oriented to tactical, law enforcement and military-looking products, including firearms, ammunition, optics and the latest gear and accessories.
JH: It’s good to know that SHOT Show is, apparently, a must-attend event for you and worth the time and investment to travel from the Ukraine. Is there any other reason international trade members should make the effort?
DS: I’ll be honest with you—another advantage to attending SHOT Show each January is that it gives us a nice, short sunny break away from the cold Ukrainian winter!