Alex Hassinger lived in Temecula from 2001 to 2009 before moving to Texas due to his position as the national sales manager for LubriSyn. Hassinger, who now lives in New Braunfels near San Antonio, spends part of each December in Las Vegas at gift shows and other events associated with the National Finals Rodeo. For the 2013 NFR and gift shows which took place Dec. 5-14, 2013 LubriSyn increased its presence at the Roper Cowboy Marketplace Gift Exposition at the Mandalay Bay.
“It was pretty much a banner year for us and we were extremely excited about everything we did in Las Vegas because we did much more than we did in past years. Our sales were extremely strong and a lot of that was due to the time and effort we put into sponsorships,” Hassinger said.
LubriSyn had a sponsorship with Group W which manages the Roper Cowboy Marketplace. Dr. Steve Allday, the veterinarian who developed LubriSyn, was featured on billboards around Las Vegas and on posters at the Mandalay Bay.
“We had a lot of new customers,” Hassinger said. “Across the board we saw existing clientele but a lot of new clientele, which I was very excited about.”
LubriSyn is a sodium hyaluronate nutritional supplement used for the treatment of joint pain and inflammation. In July 2005 Hassinger became LubriSyn’s regional representative, and in 2008 he became the national sales manager.
LubriSyn was a sponsor of the Cowboy Marketplace arena.
“That afforded the opportunity to have Dr. Allday do veterinary seminars which were a huge success,” Hassinger said.
LubriSyn took advantage of its increased opportunities prior to NFR through social media and its sponsorship of Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and Women’s Professional Rodeo Association members.
“We did a really good campaign heading up to NFR,” Hassinger said.
“The other piece of the puzzle that worked extremely well was we doubled our booth size at Mandalay Bay and we were able to display our entire line of products,” Hassinger said.
In addition to its products for horses, dogs, and humans, in early 2013 the company launched LubriSyn LVS for show steers and show pigs. LubriSyn’s colostrum supplement Max-Strum was also launched in early 2013.
LubriSyn also launched a lip balm called A-Ha, although that was a giveaway rather than a sales product at Cowboy Marketplace.
“We got huge responses from that and how good it was,” Hassinger said.
The lip balm was especially helpful earlier in the show, when temperatures dropped below 30 degrees.
“The first week in Vegas was extremely cold,” Hassinger said.
Hassinger felt that the visitor traffic at the Mandalay Bay was larger than he had ever seen. LubriSyn also had booths at the NRS Shopping Experience trade show at the MGM Grand (NRS, the title sponsor, stands for National Roper’s Supply), the Cowboy Christmas Gift Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and the South Point Western Gift Show.
“We kind of saw that across the board, which is a good sign for everybody,” he said.
“The NFR for us is the biggest show of the year. We draw a lot of clientele that are not just Western disciplines,” Hassinger said. “It’s good for us to be there displaying all of our products.”
Allday held seminars at both the Cowboy Marketplace arena and at the NRS Shopping Experience arena. His topics included colic prevention and treatment, worming and vaccination, soundness problems common across disciplines, hoof care, and pre-purchase examinations. Allday, who received both his undergraduate degree and his veterinary medicine degree from Texas A&M University, also hosted question and answer sessions.
“Can’t tell you how pleased we were with the response and the amount of participation,” Allday said. “It’s a good stepping stone.”
The Cowboy Christmas Gift Show could be considered LubriSyn’s expansion from horse racing into Western disciplines. Hassinger’s career as a racehorse trainer included eight years at the San Luis Rey Downs Thoroughbred Training Center; he spent six years with Allen Paulson and two years with Laura de Seroux. Hassinger lived on Paulson’s farm for the six years he was a Bonsall resident. Allday lived in Fallbrook from 1991 to 1996 when he was Paulson’s veterinarian. Allday now lives in Shelbyville, Kentucky.
In addition to his eight years at San Luis Rey Downs, Hassinger was also a public trainer in Kentucky for five years between his stints with Paulson and de Seroux.
Hassinger left de Seroux to take a position with Godolphin Racing; he spent six weeks in Dubai before being transferred to the Godolphin stables at Santa Anita.
Hassinger spent two years with Godolphin before joining LubriSyn.
The term “Cowboy Christmas” initially referred to the rodeos during the Fourth of July weekend, when a cowboy could enter multiple rodeos and receive significant earnings for suitable performances. In the 1980s the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association sanctioned a Cowboy Christmas Gift Show, giving visitors to the National Finals Rodeo city (NFR has been in Las Vegas since 1985 after spending 20 years in Oklahoma City) activities during the day. Hassinger had attended the Cowboy Christmas Gift Show as a visitor, but LubriSyn had not previously exhibited there until Hassinger utilized a booth at Cowboy Christmas in 2005 to make inroads into the Western discipline.
Cowboy Christmas attracts between 150,000 and 175,000 visitors during the 10 days coinciding with NFR. The gift shows at the Mandalay Bay and elsewhere in Las Vegas are not official PRCA events, although the PRCA does not discourage those shows. Approximately three-quarters of the Cowboy Christmas vendors return the following year and the booths sell out by summer, so the
other gift exhibitions allow opportunities for new exhibitors. In 2006 LubriSyn had booths both at the Convention Center and at Cowboy Marketplace.
“It’s been a really good proving ground to step up in other disciplines of horses across the country,” Allday said.
“We’re a big believer in rodeo and support it,” Hassinger said. “We’re really excited to go out there.”
Allday’s interviews during NFR included a show on RFD-TV, a national television channel dedicated to serving the needs of rural America and agriculture. (RFD stands for Rural Free Delivery, a U.S. Postal Service innovation in the 1890s which provided for mail delivery to boxes on rural roads rather than forcing rural residents to travel to a post office several miles away.) LubriSyn also participated on RFD-TV’s Cowboy Shopping Network show and had a discount for products purchased using the television program code.
“It helped us get a good measuring stick,” Allday said.
LubriSyn sponsored two 2013 NFR qualifiers: team roper Charly Crawford and tie-down roper Caleb Smidt. Crawford had not won a go-round during his first six NFR competitions, but he won twice during 2013. “We’re excited for Charly. We’ve been associated with him for about seven years,” Hassinger said. “Charly’s been a great sponsor for us, used the products for a long time.”
Crawford and Allday participated in veterinary seminar at the Mandalay Bay arena. Chad Masters, who was injured early in 2013 and did not qualify for NFR, also participated in a seminar with Allday.
“We hope to continue that with Dr. Allday having seminars every year,” Hassinger said.