AAPEX show driving innovations for Aftermarket Industry Week

Jan. 1, 2020
  AAPEX is hosting 2,324 exhibitors, 5,054 booths and 32 International Pavilions. New this year is an attendee-friendly brand-identification system at www.aapexshow.com to help find particular products.

Being in Las Vegas is a sure bet for the 100,000-plus professionals expected to be on hand for Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week. Anchored by the Nov. 5-7 Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo (AAPEX) and the Nov. 5-8 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show, numerous other aftermarket organizations are conducting membership gatherings and conferences concurrent with the main conventions along the Strip.

“AAPEX is making a promise this year that if you attend, you will grow your business,” says Arlene Davis, senior director of meetings and events at the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA). “We firmly believe that if folks take full advantage of what is available at AAPEX they can have a positive impact on their business.”

Jointly sponsored by AAIA and the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA), Davis encourages attendees to put some advance thought into what they hope to accomplish. “You have to plan to be there – you can’t just show up,” she suggests, citing a vast array of networking opportunities, educational sessions and product displays.

AAPEX is hosting 2,324 exhibitors manning 5,054 booths and 32 International Pavilions.

Among attendees, last year attracted 39,591 industry decision-makers representing 140 nations; a larger attendance figure is expected for the 2013 edition of the event, according to Davis, who says each potential buyer spends an average of nine hours traversing the show floor.

New this year is an attendee-friendly brand-identification system at www.aapexshow.com to aid in locating particular products, especially since the industry’s ongoing pattern of mergers and acquisitions can create confusion when trying to find the specific vendor of a particular brand, she says.

Aftermarket Business World is publishing a comprehensive AAPEX Product Extra being mailed to all registered domestic and international buyers two weeks prior to the show and handed out onsite to attendees. Electronic versions will be distributed online.

Thousands of products of interest to both the do-it-yourself and do-it-for-me segments will be displayed throughout the Sands Expo Center, covering a host of categories that include Accessories; Automotive Lighting; Business Tools; Chemicals; Lubricants and Filters; Electrical; General Merchandise; Hard Parts; Innovation; Mobile Electronics; Paint, Body and Equipment; Safety; Tires and Wheels; Tool and Equipment; Radiator/Cooling; and Remanufacturing.

“Year after year we see greater interest from companies to exhibit and attendees to visit the enhanced AAPEX Remanufacturing section,” says AAIA Senior Vice President Rich White. A sold-out count of 39 exhibitors is taking part. “The increased number of booths related to remanufactured products is a reflection of the continued growth in the average age of vehicles, currently at the historic level of 11.3 years for both cars and light trucks, accounting for more than one-half of all light vehicles on the road,” he explains.

“It is exciting to see remanufacturers and their suppliers – along with the environmental, economic and product performance benefits of remanufactured products – being recognized in one area on the main show floor at AAPEX,” notes John Chalifoux, president and COO of the Motor & Equipment Remanufacturers Association (MERA), which is co-hosting the section along with the Engine Rebuilders Council (ERC)

Known as NARSA, the International Heat Transfer Association’s AAPEX pavilion is featuring 60 exhibitors from seven nations with 14,000 square feet of products and services for car and truck heating, cooling, and air conditioning service and replacement.

Getting business done

A testimonial regarding the value readily obtained by attending AAPEX is provided by Rusty Bishop, CEO of Federated Auto Parts: “AAPEX is an ideal time to renew and review relationships with current vendors, network with industry colleagues and seek out new products and services,” he points out.

“At Federated, we try to spend three full days on the show floor, dedicating a day-and-a-half to pre-scheduled meetings and using the remainder of the time to identify new products and take advantage of educational offerings. The real advantage of attending AAPEX,” according to Bishop, “is the ability to meet with so many business associates all in one place in a relatively short period of time. It’s a place where business gets done.”

Bob Cushing, president and CEO of WORLDPAC, Inc., will be the featured speaker at the Nov. 5 AASA Executive Breakfast meeting. Calling it the “don’t miss event” at AAPEX, AASA President and COO Bill Long reports that “WORLDPAC has demonstrated the ability to grow by using product data to successfully bridge the gap between supplier and service provider, and Cushing will comment on WORLDPAC’s efforts to create one of the highest regarded catalog programs in the industry.”

Cushing’s presentation will also address the Internet’s impact on the aftermarket, including the issues of price transparency and how suppliers can protect their brands.

AAPEX’s Learning Forum at the Venetian Hotel has been expanded to include 39 free educational sessions – the most ever at AAPEX – that offer a wide range of topics to help attendees grow their business. The sessions cover warehouse distribution management, product distribution, marketing/sales/branding, industry trends and repair shop readiness.

From the latest in technology – telematics, 3-D printing, and Big Data – to how to build the workforce of tomorrow, there will be plenty of ideas, tips, techniques and take-aways attendees can take back to their businesses to help improve efficiency and profitability, said Susan Kalish, director of education, AAIA. Sessions will be presented by top industry experts and professional speakers who provide their insight based on extensive research and experience.

The sessions begin on Monday, Nov. 4 and end at noon Thursday, Nov. 7. All sessions are free and are located in the Marco Polo Hallway, Venetian Hotel, Level 1.  For more information on the topics, speakers and schedule, visit. www.aapexshow.com or the AAPEX app.

“All of the sessions were chosen because the topics are relevant,” says Scott Luckett, AAIA's chief information officer.

Luckett's Nov. 7 seminar, entitled “Aftermarket Telematics: Separating Fact from Fiction,” includes Roger Lanctot of Strategy Analytics speaking about “current market conditions, projected scenarios and probable aftermarket solutions to the threat of embedded telematics.” Luckett will discuss the aftermarket’s telematics strategy and describe industry efforts “to secure the consumers’ right to choose where data from their vehicle goes.” In addition, the winner of the 2nd Annual Aftermarket Telematics Challenge will present the product being recognized as the best example of connectivity in the aftermarket.

The Nov. 4-5 AVI Training Conference will again be taking place alongside AAPEX at the Sands Expo Center. More than 20 high-end technical and management classes are being conducted to aid technicians, service advisors and shop owners in being more efficient. Technical topics include advanced driveability, diagnostic approaches, Bosch technologies, emissions controls and schematics. Management classes will be geared toward shop owners, focusing on marketing, customer service, selling and shop efficiency.

Partnering with the University of the Aftermarket, the Automotive Warehouse Distributors Association (AWDA) is offering an expanded series of seminars during its Nov. 2 AWDA Business and Education Conference at the Venetian.

“Multiple distributor-focused sessions will honor AWDA’s commitment to education, but still remain sensitive to the realities of traveling during Industry Week,” says Executive Director Larry Northup.

Registration is free for all AWDA conference attendees, and you will receive continuing education units (CEUs) toward your Automotive Aftermarket Professional (AAP) or Master Automotive Aftermarket Professional (MAAP) certificates from the University of the Aftermarket.

SEMA reaches niches

Bright chrome, flashy paint and other industry eye-candy elements can be experienced at the Nov. 5-8 SEMA Show. Happening up the Strip at the Las Vegas Convention Center, 11 miles of aisles are highlighting products for several niche markets, including Light Truck, Street Rod, Wheel/Tire, Restoration, On-board Technology, Street Performance, Off-road, Restyling, Racing, Mobile Electronics, Import/Sport Compact Performance, Powersports and Paint and Body Equipment.

Your AAPEX badge gets you into SEMA, and your SEMA badge gets you into AAPEX.

Among the new attractions this year is Cars & Coffee – SEMA Edition. Taking place on the Las Vegas Hotel’s (formerly the Hilton) patio from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. each morning of the event, attendees have a chance to “grab a cup of coffee and a donut, check out some cool vehicles, mingle with colleagues and then get a jump-start on your day” by visiting an enlarged Featured Exhibitors section at the hotel, says SEMA’s Della Domingo.

Overall SEMA Show attendance last year was 135,000 – up 2 percent from 2011 – including 60,000 buyers; 25 percent of the buyers were from outside of the U.S. More than 15,000 international buyers are expected at the 2013 edition.

“We’re optimistic about this year’s event, as exhibitor participation is strong. We’re up about 12 percent in terms of number of companies year-to-date, and are on track to see more than 2,400 companies exhibiting,” Domingo reports, adding that these figures are the highest in the show’s 47-year history.

As a result, the organizers are “shifting away from a sales strategy and focusing instead on helping exhibitors and buyers connect with one another during the event,” according to SEMA Vice President Peter MacGillivray.

“The trend over the last few years has been one of increased industry optimism,” he says. “With a higher number of exhibitors at the upcoming show, we’re working closer than ever with all showgoers so that they have a successful event.”

MacGillivray says “as global demand for the industry’s products soars, there is huge opportunity for our members. We have a comprehensive international relations program to help U.S. manufacturers connect with buyers in the most relevant markets.”

Educational upgrades

Enhanced features for the Collision Repair & Refinish market include a larger show floor area, targeted activities both inside and outside of the convention center and upgraded educational offerings.

Last year’s show had 330 exhibitors in the Collision Repair & Refinish area and the Tools & Equipment area, the two sections where many firms display products directed at the body shop segment.

“The expanded floor section makes it really easy and convenient for buyers to see all the products in the collision market within a defined area,” MacGillivray says.

Those in the collision market are also able to network and expand your knowledge during several industry meetings and classes taking place. The Collision Industry Conference (CIC), the National Auto Body Council (NABC) and the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) are among the groups hosting conferences during the show.

SCRS is also presenting a comprehensive Repairer Driver Education program.

“From the impressive growth of exhibitors, to attendees who are reaching out to SCRS already looking to register and ask questions about our education, it is clear the collision industry is really excited about this year’s show,” says Aaron Schulenburg, SCRS’ executive director. The seminars are set to deliver “fresh and inspiring content, while continuing to remain relevant to collision repairers,” he adds.

“Each year we have taken feedback from past attendees and used it to amplify our upcoming offerings,” Schulenburg continues.

“This year, we are adding to the format with designated tracks that can guide repair industry professionals through the week-long program based on their core interests in what they need for their business,” he explains.

“Some want to better understand how to manage their business, and what makes it tick, while some are looking for ways to enhance and grow it through new business opportunities or untapped customer bases; others may be looking for ways to best position their business to make it more attractive when they wish to sell it, or learn how to compete in a consolidating marketplace,” says Schulenburg. “Regardless of interest, there is something for everyone and the objective remains the same: To address real issues faced by collision repairers, while providing tangible information that they can directly apply to their business when they return home.”

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About the Author

James Guyette

James E. Guyette is a long-time contributing editor to Aftermarket Business World, ABRN and Motor Age magazines.

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