From a rousing and patriotic opening keynote to duelling events for the Canadian contingent, Industry Week offered plenty for those in attendance.
With about 162,000 automotive aftermarket professionals on hand for the Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo and the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association Show in Las Vegas, visitors were treated to the latest in product innovation and tools needed to do the job.
Sessions allowed attendees to sharpen their skills, gain knowledge on industry trends and highlights as well as get a glimpse into the future of the business.
The show unofficially kicked off with an opening breakfast keynote. Bill Long of the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association and Bill Hanvey of the Auto Care Association — both groups co-own AAPEX — welcomed attendees before giving way to CNN’s John King. He examined the possibilities that could play out in the Nov. 6 midterm elections in the United States. He told the audience that it was likely that the Democrats could get the needed 23 seats required to take the House, but the Senate would be a more difficult challenge.
Karl Rove, a senior advisor in George W. Bush’s White House, finished off the session with a wide-ranging discussion on politics. He mostly agreed with much of King’s analysis before taking a look at more international issues, such as the pending United States-Canada-Mexico Agreement that is to replace NAFTA. He encouraged the U.S. government to not delay and get it signed now. A change in the House or Senate could delay things or even kill the agreement. He also expressed his confusion over tariffs on steel and aluminum, especially the claim that they were in place over national security concerns. Rove said that such a distinction paints neighbours Mexico and Canada as problems, not friends.
“I wish I knew what the purpose of them was,” he said.
Rove also went after China, saying their policies undermine business, that they resort to stealing intellectual property and that its citizens were not as smart nor as innovative as Americans. He went on to give a rousing patriotic speech about the U.S., claiming it to be the best country in the world.
“If you can’t succeed in the United States of America, something’s wrong,” he said.
The end of the first day of AAPEX saw something different for the Canadian crowd. The first-ever Spirits of Canada was held at the Venetian, hosted by the five national sales and marketing agencies. About 400 Canadians packed the room to mix and mingle before heading down the street to Caesar’s Palace for the annual tradition of Canada Night, put on by the Automotive Industries Association of Canada.
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