Catching Vegas fever?

Are you catching AAPEX/SEMA fever? Be careful, it’s spreading rapidly. It’s a nationwide adrenaline flow gaining momentum.

Every year, in the two weeks prior to the Las Vegas trade shows, shop owners and technicians get harried trying to get work done early so they can get away from the shop for a few days. They also get excited thinking about seeing all the innovations on the AAPEX and SEMA show floors.

This year, attendance records might reach new highs, based on the number of people I’ve spoken with who think the shows are more important than ever. The electronics revolution has changed the industry so much that thousands of technicians and shop owners feel they can’t afford to miss a chance to see what aftermarket manufacturers have come up with in the last year.

They won’t be disappointed. Manufacturers of every type of tool; diagnostic tools, smoke machines, lab scopes, air conditioning equipment, lifts, electrical systems, repair information, TPMS equipment, compressors, power tools, hand tools, you name it, have new products to present in Las Vegas.

Lots of aftermarket business owners are interested in getting into reflashing as more later-vintage vehicles are coming into their shops. More repair professionals are concerned about the number of vehicles they are shipping to OEM dealerships and they are anxious to see what options exist to get into this growing market. So many functions in the newer vehicles now call for reflashing.

Emission diagnostics are also becoming increasingly important to aftermarket shops as state governments enact stricter emissions standards.

Then there’s the explosion in diagnostic tools. This has caused many shop owners and technicians to want to see first-hand how the latest tools work from people who can answer their questions. There are not many opportunities to get these questions answered – satisfactorily and in person – other than at AAPEX and SEMA.

One veteran shop owner told me he simply could not put off going to AAPEX and SEMA any longer. Every year for the past five years, he has tried to get away, but his work load wouldn’t allow him. This year, he decided that no matter what, he was not going to miss AAPEX and SEMA. He was frustrated that the equipment sales people who happened to visit him in recent years were not able to answer his questions about electronic tools. By going to Vegas, he knows he can’t lose.

“They (the tool manufacturers) aren’t going to put anybody out there (on the trade show floor) that doesn’t know what they’re talking about and doesn’t have people skills,” this veteran told me.

Lots of attendees also think it’s important to get a glimpse of things coming down the road, such as telematics, electric and hybrid vehicles, pending government regulations and more.

Attendees also look forward to the chance to see the winners of the 2013 PTEN Innovation Awards. The winners were announced in the June issue. These tools, introduced or significantly updated within the last year, are evaluated based on their ability make vehicle diagnosis and repair easier and more efficient, and make shops more productive. The awards will be presented on Tuesday, Nov. 5 at 10 a.m. at the Tool & Equipment Lounge, booth 1061, at AAPEX.

Every shop owner and technician heading to Vegas has an agenda this year. What was once a festive experience for many has become serious business.