By Bill Long, president & CEO, Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA)
I’ve lost count of the number of years I’ve attended the show, going back to the days at McCormick Place in Chicago.
But what is clear is the significant transformation of AAPEX that I’ve seen over the years to meet the ever changing needs of the industry, especially in areas of technology. Attendees now can turn to AAPEX to learn about Technology of Tomorrow, as well as changing technologies impacting service and repair, such as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and electrification. Let’s Tech (now AAPEX Stage) was added and modeled after the popular TED Talks to provide quick 20-minute technology-related presentations by industry experts, and Mobility Garage (now Joe’s Garage) was introduced for hands-on technical training and product demos. The AAPEX Keynote and speaker line-up have hit new highs, with AAPEX hosting George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States, in 2019.
As AAPEX transformed, so did the Sands Expo, which underwent a significant renovation to provide attendees and exhibitors with the best environment in which to conduct business. Over the years, these changes all have contributed to a steady increase in attendee and exhibitor participation.
So yes, I’ll be at AAPEX this November, along with an impressive number of our MEMA aftermarket supplier members affiliated with our Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA) and MERA – The Association for Sustainable Manufacturing – divisions.
Friendships and camaraderie have consistently been a special hallmark of AAPEX and the basis for fostering strong business relationships. And during these times of opportunity, change and industry transformation, AAPEX also serves as a vital platform to shape and strengthen our collective future success. As such, many new features and programs are being introduced this year, including Repair Shop HQ, an area on Level 1 of the Sands Expo dedicated to the service center and everyone who works in the shop. As part of this addition, the expanded Tool and Equipment section and the Mobile Heat Transfer/Heating/Air Conditioning section are relocating to Level 1. This area also will feature an extensive lineup of technical and business management training; a new dedicated Tire section; Joe’s Garage, a built out shop on the show floor with eight bays that simulate a real shop environment; four training theaters; and a Diagnostics/Telematics area.
Level 2 will feature Automotive Aftermarket Central to showcase the inventory that service and repair professionals, retailers and warehouse distributors need to meet customer demand and to keep cars on the road.
For this year’s Keynote Session, AAPEX has assembled a Keynote Buyer Panel with top executives from four leading aftermarket retailers and two warehouse distributors to discuss the pandemic’s impact on the supply chain, how parts disruption at the OE level impacts the aftermarket, and how repair shops and parts stores will handle customer demands as the industry continues to rebound.
AAPEX also serves another vital industry role. Each year, 100% of the net proceeds from AAPEX are reinvested into the industry, in-part, to fund important government advocacy initiatives related to tax and trade policy, highway infrastructure, and freedom-of-choice for vehicle maintenance and repair.
It’s said that in business, “It is what you make of it.” The automotive aftermarket is OUR industry and AAPEX is OUR industry’s show. Let’s make this year’s AAPEX great … together.
I’ll be there … let us know you will be there too by participating in the new “I’ll Be There” campaign. The campaign is to let your industry peers and customers know that you’ll be attending AAPEX 2021. You can download graphics, sized for use on social media platforms, to share your excitement and invite others to join you in Las Vegas.
When the industry comes together at AAPEX, we all win. See you in Las Vegas!