It was a big risk to move Automotive Service & Repair Week to new dates, but organizers say it paid off.
“It was a toss-up, but it has proven to be a successful event,” said Ron Pyle, president and chief staff executive of the sponsoring Automotive Service Association, at the show’s conclusion. “And one thing I can say is that not one attendee has left to go to AAPEX or SEMA,” he added–only half joking, as those events are no longer held concurrently with ASRW. ASRW is now held in Las Vegas in mid-October, while AAPEX and SEMA have maintained their early November dates.
Pyle admitted that the change in the schedule did give them some sleepless nights. A phone call, only weeks before the event, from a shop owner who was surprised to hear they had changed the dates, gave him pause for thought, too. And, he admitted, there was no question that attendance was down about 6% over 2009.
“There are fewer people here–but we know that there are fewer people showing up for every event.”
Pyle also expressed some displeasure with companies that had stated that they would not support the show as there was no business case for it, but then proceeded to hold customer events off the show floor.
He stopped short of castigating them, but did say that the events that combine to make up ASRW–the International Autobody Congress and Exposition (NACE), the Congress of Automotive Service and Repair (CARS), and Auto Glass Week–contribute much to the industry.
“This show has contributed a substantial amount of money to the industry, even in terms of just the complimentary show space for charitable organizations.
“Quite frankly, doing the math, that’s roughly $2.5 million a year that we have contributed to other organizations.”
He pointed out that several pivotal organizations in the industry began their life through the events. One example is the National Automotive Service Task Force, which oversees the delivery of OE service information to the independent aftermarket in the U.S..
“We have contributed a significant amount of money to that organization over the years,” he said, also listing a number of organizations that have benefited from the events.
“And in training, what we deliver is very significant, when you consider that 47,000 people have attended training just at these events since 2004, to the tune of some 83,000 hours of training.
“Anybody in training will tell you that it is almost always subsidized. If it weren’t for the revenue from these events, where would training be today?”
Two highlights among the ASRW events were the first Association Leadership Summit, which drew 60 industry leaders with the theme, “Association Best Practices in a Recessionary Economy,” and the Industry Forum, which featured two concurrent 45-minute sessions: “Aftermarket Parts Quality: What’s In the Box” for the mechanical industry, and “Certified Collision Repair–An Industry Perspective” for collision repair professionals, followed by a 30-minute networking break. Two additional concurrent sessions followed: “Service Information Access: Right or Responsibility?” for the mechanical industry, and “Diversity in the Shop: How to Work with People Not Like You” for the collision industry (moderated by Opening General Session keynote speaker Kelly McDonald). The forum concluded with an hour-long reception mixer.
The ASRW Industry Forum was sponsored by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF), the Women’s Industry Network (WIN), the National Auto Body Council (NABC), the Automotive Management Institute (AMI), and the I-CAR Education Foundation.
Proceeds from ticket sales for the ASRW Industry Forum were donated to the sponsoring organizations.
Pyle said that the success of the event bodes well for the future. And, while the dates and location of the 2011 event have already been announced–October 16 to 19 in Las Vegas– Pyle said that the opportunity to move to a new location is undeniable, and he left the door open for a move as soon as 2011. “We have some flexibility now,” he said. “One of the things we do know is that these folks will come.”
A poll currently on the ASRW website is offering visitors the option of selecting possible future locations.
“The automotive service and repair industry is separate and distinct from aftermarket distribution, OE, and OE service. And we believe it deserves its own events.”
ASA president and chief staff executive Ron Pyle says that the move to new dates has proven to be the right one.