The Return to AAPEX

Monday, October 25, 2021

By Liz Goad, CMP, DES, director, Events & Meetings, Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association

Our industry’s homecoming is fast approaching. The energy and excitement for coming together at AAPEX 2021 next week is very strong. In fact, the word, “joy” moved to the top of the list on the most recent AAPEX Social Listening Analysis for September. While the analysis also showed positive sentiment far outweighs hesitation and concern about this year’s event, we have all been through the “ringer” and back over the past two years and we are still cautious. 

The Return

But as COVID numbers continue to drop, and as AASA is coming off of our first in-person event in almost two years, I am feeling encouraged and optimistic. At the AASA Technology Conference in Memphis, I spoke to AAPEX exhibitors to get information on what they were doing at the show this year; and I felt similar optimism from them. Sharing that sentiment are AAPEX buyers, with AutoZone even reminding everyone from the stage, “We will be there!”

At the Tech Conference, I saw first-hand the positive impact of coming together after too long apart. Our networking events lasted well past the hour they were scheduled to end. The buzz in the room was loud, laughter peaked, and people were happy just to be together.

Given everything we have to look forward to at AAPEX this year, I expect to see a similar buzz and excitement, bonding and learning, reconnecting and growing together.

What to Expect

We are launching a lot of “new” at AAPEX 2021. Just the transformation of Level 1 of the Sands Expo into Repair Shop HQ – a one-stop-shop for service and repair – is a BIG change. Coupled with the real-world shop setup that includes eight service bays in Joe’s Garage and the elite technicians and industry thought leaders delivering critical information on new technology, revenue drivers in a changing market, and management tools for the future. . . this is definitely a can’t miss event.

But behind all the paint and trim is the show’s engine, the key driver of the event. One of the top reasons anyone heads out to AAPEX, and the reason we have a show at all — The Exhibitors. AAPEX exhibitors bring new products and experts, and trainings and demos. They host receptions and meetings, and even bring along celebrities and chances to win big. Without exhibitors, we wouldn’t have this chance to connect.

And this year, AAPEX exhibitors are bringing a lot to the homecoming celebration including:

  • Demos! BG Products, Bolt-On, Mitchell1, Hunter Engineering and others will have bays in Joe’s Garage. Experience even more demos in the Tool & Equipment Section, as well as new data management technology and more from companies like PDM in Technology of Tomorrow. 
  • Exhibitor Training! Testing & Servicing Batteries, Achieving Consistent & Accurate Calibrations, Electrical Troubleshooting and Diagnostics are just a few training sessions you can expect from exhibitors.
  • Let’s Tech! ZF, NASTF, Mitchell 1, and others will give quick, technology-forward presentations on electrification, scan tools, digital inspections and EV regenerative braking.
  • Celebrity Appearances! Don’t miss Richard Petty, Robert Hight and Al Young just to name a few.
  • Cars! See racecars, diecasts, engine builds and other features in and around the show floor.
  • New Products! Schaeffler, ZF and Plews & Edelmann are just a few of the many exhibitors unveiling new products at AAPEX 2021.  
  • Product Displays! Check out Dorman, Gold Eagle, Valeo, Walker and others displaying products in Joe’s Garage.
  • Contests & Giveaways! Win OPTIMA Battery chargers from Clarios by guessing battery components or play “Akebono Trivia” to win $500 and a Mustang Shelby GT500 Die Cast, among others. 

Who Will Be There

AAPEX 2021 will be different, but the key buyers and exhibitors will be there. The decision-makers will be there. The important meetings will happen. Relationships will be strengthened and new ones formed. I, personally, am looking forward to reconnecting with our industry in Las Vegas, and many others have assured me that they will be there and are looking forward to it, too!