Investment in the Future Continues

Despite the economic times, the heavy duty aftermarket industry demonstrated its resolve and the need for suppliers and distributors to stay connected by their strong showing at this year's Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week (HDAW) in Las Vegas, NV. More than 1,500 individuals attended the three-day conference, including 229 exhibitors and 426 distributor executives, according to HDAW organizers.

This, the fifth annual conference, was held at The Mirage this past January 18-21. More than 1,100 people attended the opening reception on Monday evening, starting the week off with an optimistic and genuine feel of excitement for the relationship-based industry.

More than 1,000 people attended the fourth edition of the HD Aftermarket Forum, HDAW's economic and market outlook session. Over 1,200 attendees pre-scheduled one-on-one meetings with the senior executives of the distributor and supplier companies.

Eight individual education programs were presented to large audiences on topics ranging from making sense of technology to finding cash in your business to hybrid technologies. All of these sessions were designed to provide tools for distributors to improve their businesses as soon as they returned home.

Earlier in the year, an Early Bird registration contest was held. Those registering prior to November 1 competed in a drawing for a grand prize of a "High-Roller Package." This package, won by Barry Ernst of Frame Service in Ft. Wayne, IN, included a luxury suite for the week and limo service. Barry didn't tell his wife about his winning the prize package until they were picked up at the airport by a uniformed Mirage limo driver. Additional registration contest included four pairs of tickets to Cirque du Solei productions and Mirage gift certificates.

The HDAW product Expo was filled wall-to-wall with exhibitors and had several special attractions, including the HDAW new product showcase, a display of the Pinewood Challenge "race-trucks," Mike Ryan's Pikes Peak race truck and the NASCAR "Pit-Crew Challenge" - wherein attendees could compete against each other changing tires on a race car simulator.

The annual All-Industry Reception and Pinewood Challenge, held in conjunction with HDAW, proved to be an exciting event for all 14 participants and an audience of more than 800. Winners of the Pinewood Race were: First Place Jim Pascale, Pascale Service Corporation; Second Place - Greg Franklin, Franklin Truck Parts; and Third Place - Jeff Miller, Triangle Suspension Systems. The Pinewood Concours D'elegance winners were: First Place - Jeff Miller, Triangle Suspension Systems; Second Place - Mike Garvin, Vander Haag's; and Third Place - Roger Maye of Consolidated Metco

Winner of the NASCAR Pit Stop Challenge was Brian Matzek, Weldon Parts. NASCAR Pit Pass winners were Jack Wilcosky, Total Truck Parts, and Torsten Holzapfel, TMD Friction

"HDAW '10 was all about networking with suppliers and distributors, education session content, several meals and other networking events," said Dave Bell, HDAW 2010 co-chair and president of Erie Drive Train. "Having the key companies in our industry pull together and support the conference during some pretty tough times for many businesses in the heavy duty aftermarket speaks to the value of the event to our industry."

"The overall theme for HDAW was Achieving Success in a Changing Environment," said Gary Smalley, HDAW 2010 co-chair and president and CEO of Dayton Parts. "Attendees at the conference were provided maximum take-away from all elements of the program, and also had the opportunity to learn how to implement them immediately into their businesses."

Next year's annual HDAW is set for January 19-22, and will again be held at The Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas. Make plans to attend. It will be well worth your time and a good investment in your future in the industry.

Tim Kraus is Executive Director of the Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association. Prior to joining HDMA, he served as director of sales and marketing at Triseal Corp. The Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association (HDMA) is the heavy duty market segment association of the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Associations (MEMA). HDMA exclusively represents the interests and serves heavy duty product manufacturers.