ToolTech 2014 probes automotive hot button issues

The Equipment and Tool Institute's annual ToolTech conference continues to be a premiere tool and equipment industry event, drawing more than 125 professionals from over 40 companies and four major automotive industry associations to this year’s ToolTech 2014 held this week in Sonoma, Calif. 

The ToolTech conference provided an opportunity to attend industry focused presentations and take away valuable insights into the latest tool and equipment information, issues, technologies, and specifications and learn about opportunities to do business in today's marketplace while preparing for tomorrow's challenges.

Keynote speaker Suse Barnes, president and digital marketing consultant at Susby Internet Solutions, spoke on integrating digital and social media into the mix for an automotive company.

Attendees gave great reviews of an OEM panel that allowed attendees to pose questions to representatives of automakers.

The OEM panelists included: Bob Stewart, manager of aftermarket service support and brand protection, General Motors; Wes Arnold, assistant manager, special tools for the tool and equipment program, Honda; Mark Saxonberg, manager, alternative fuel vehicles and environment, Toyota; Jim VonEhr, manager, technical information and serviceability, Nissan; Nathan Knight, regulatory affairs engineer, Porsche; Kurt Immekus, service publications regulatory specialist, Volkswagen; Dennis Blough, director of marine and auto service, division head, Suzuki; and Kelly J. Geist, service operations manager, Subaru of America.

Another well attended panel was a shop owner/technicians perspective panel. This panel included: Richard Kahn, owner, Earth In Upheaval; Hari Dhaliwal, owner, Drive Rite Automotive; Scott Andrews, owner, Pacific Rim Automotive; Ray Paoletti, owner, Personalized Auto Care; Jason Smith, technician, Dana Point Auto Service; and Aaron Cristaldi, general manager, Paul’s Japanese Auto Repair.

Another session addressed connected vehicles, an emerging automotive trend that many think will become mainstream. The session focused on data and information access, an area that has raised many questions about connected vehicles.

Speaking on vehicle data ownership were: Stephen Finnegan, manager, government and community affairs, Automobile Club of Southern California, and Greg Brannon, director, automotive engineering and industry relations, AAA national office.

Speaking on safe and secure access to vehicle data (The Vehicle Station Gateway) were: Greg Potter, global director of business development and product management, DG Technologies; Richard Roy, Ph.D.; and Gangolf Feiter, owner, Concepts & Services Consulting.

Presenting on access to vehicle manufacturer training materials were Mark Warren, trainer, WorldPac technical training program, and Rob Morrell, director, WorldPac Training Institute.

Another question and answer session addressed technology integration and national accounts. Panelists were George Hoffman, manager, automotive assets, Sears, and Martin Corbett, director, property management purchasing and service equipment, The PepBoys.

Collision service procedures was the subject of yet another panel discussion. Panelists included: Kelly Logan, project manager, body repair program, Tesla Motors; John Hall, assistant manager, service technology, American Honda Motor Co., Inc.; Dan Risley, president, ASA; Steve Marks, Industry technical support manager, I-CAR; Joe DiDonato, collision training administrator, Toyota.

ToolTech 2014 presentations will be available on our website at

“ToolTech 2014 was one of the best attended and most informative events ETI has put on. The speakers were outstanding and the information relayed was very valuable to our members as were the many networking opportunities,” said Jessie Korosec, ETI eeting and event manager. “Once again, the discussion groups were a success and the company showcase was an excellent platform to highlight products and services. We would like to thank the attendees for their support and we look forward to seeing everyone at next year’s ToolTech in Austin, Texas.”