Suddenly, it seems like everyone in the industry is all about the technicians and the shop owner — and we are about to see if exhibitors are willing to put their money where their mouths have been for years.
As reported in our sister publication, The Greensheet, and in this issue of Service Executive, trade show producer Messe Frankfurt is bringing its Automechanika brand of automotive trade shows to the U.S. in 2015 in partnership with Advanstar Communications, publisher of Motor Age, ABRN, Aftermarket Business World magazine and other trade publications. The biannual event, called Automechanika Chicago, will take place April 24-26 at the McCormick Place convention center in downtown Chicago. This adds to an already-crowded field of trade shows showing interest in today’s techs and shop operators — events that have ramped up their efforts to attract the folks who “throw away the box,” the direct interface with today’s car owners.
For example, the trade groups behind AAPEX have added new programs to their training offers that will feature programs specifically designed for service pros. Along with specific training events, the AAPEX leaders have decided to encourage exhibitors to include in-booth technical demonstrations on the show floor that will give the service professionals more reason to be part of the major annual trade show. AAPEX also is partnering with the AVI Training Conference again this year, featuring more than 20 technical courses and management classes at the November event.
At the same time, NACE and CARS are quickly moving toward their revamped show, newly relocated to Detroit and scheduled for July 30 to Aug. 2 of this year. As previously reported, sponsors expect he show to feature more than 50,000 square feet of exhibit space and another 30,000 dedicated to live demonstrations and show cars. Additionally, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers will sponsor an OEM Technology & Innovation Expo at the NACE/CARS shows this summer.
In addition, there is the Vision Hi-Tech Training & Expo, which will be held March 5-8, 2015, while most of the program groups hold events specifically targeting techs and shop owners, geared to both technical training as well as sales savvy.
For too long, this industry has talked the talk concerning its commitment to the service professionals. But, when it came to major industry events, there was little being done to significantly entice those in the bay – the front-line troops in the fight for business – to come to the party and get some direct contact with the suppliers. For years, show exhibitors have expressed sincere interest in including shop personnel in the crowds filling the show aisles, and now, it seems everyone is putting their best foot forward in trying to woo the shop owners and their technicians into the industry conclaves.
It remains to be seen how successful the new and reinvented opportunities will be, and how well they will be received by both the shop personnel and the exhibitors. But, one thing is clear: For the longest time, this industry has worked hard to improve efforts between channel partners in the independent aftermarket. Now, more than ever, a key partner is getting better acknowledgment. That, in and of itself, is good news.
Gary A. Molinaro
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