Show organizers for Automotive After-market Industry Week 2002 (AAIW) announced that total attendance for this year’s event may set new records and was approximately 19% higher than 2001 levels.
AAIW, which combines the Specialty Equipment Market Association performance and accessories show and Automotive Aftermarket Product Expo (AAPEX) shows, attracted more than 82,000 visitors, according to preliminary verified attendance figures. This puts attendance at approximately the same level as 1999, the previous record year.
However, the 2002 total easily surpassed last year’s event, even though it was the largest business gathering in the United States following the September 11 terrorist attacks. Exhibitor count was also higher this year.
Attendance was boosted by the fact that the Auto-motive Service Association’s Congress of Automotive Repair and Service (CARS) took place on the Thursday of the show, coinciding with “Service Professionals Day” at AAPEX.
Service technicians were able to walk the show floor and get a first-hand look at new products and equipment that were introduced during AAPEX.
A town hall discussion was also well attended, with the focus being the estimated $60 billion of unperformed service in the U.S. While not a new topic of discussion, it continues to be a focus of efforts at the association and industry levels.
On the show floor, SEMA featured a record 1,568 exhibitors in 2 million square feet, while AAPEX had more than 1,700 exhibitors. The SEMA Show is sponsored by the Specialty Equipment Market Association and represents the $26 billion U.S. specialty automotive parts and accessories industry. AAPEX (the Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo) is the annual trade show representing the $250 billion U.S. North American retail and service aftermarket.
AAPEX is sponsored by the Motor & Equip-ment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) and the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Associa-tion (AAIA).
“Reaction to our decision to organize our expanded floor space into sections according to market niche has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Christopher J. Kersting, CAE, president of SEMA. “Our buyers tell us that having their suppliers located close to each other has made this larger show efficient for them. Further, our 1,568 exhibiting companies, which include 12 carmakers, are telling us that this is one of the best shows we’ve produced in the 37-year history of the SEMA Show.”
“Considering the current state of global peace and unrest, the unstable economy, and numerous other external factors, we are excited that we were able to rebound from last year’s tragic events and attract so many quality buyers and manufacturers from around the world,” said AAPEX show manager Bill Glasgow Sr. “The higher attendance is certainly a testament to the importance of AAPEX and reflects that the additional value the shows are bringing to AAPEX is paying off. The feedback from our exhibitors has been extremely positive as they report being pleased with both the quality and quantity of buyers.”
An example of the increased value of this year’s AAIW was the return of the Automotive Warehouse Distributors Association (AWDA), which held its annual Business/Educational Conference concurrently with AAIW activities.