By Mark Bogdansky, vice president, Meetings and Events, Auto Care Association
Exactly one year ago, the most common question I was asked was “How is AAPEX going to top having President Bush?” What I knew, was that the bigger news from the Keynote Stage was not having the former President talk to us, but rather the announcement that Bill Hanvey and Paul McCarthy had made minutes earlier. That in 2020, AAPEX would be launching Repair Shop HQ, THE destination in Las Vegas for anything and everything that Shop Owners, Technicians and all Service Professionals would need for their businesses.
Word spread quickly around Vegas, and by Tuesday night, we were already getting calls from companies that had never participated in AAPEX before, asking to come be part of Repair Shop HQ in 2020. Joe’s Garage, a fully functional six bay shop, would be built in the middle of the show floor and allow companies to showcase how their products work on running vehicles in a live setting. We would have Shop Management Systems set up in the front of Joe’s Garage, so they can demonstrate how easily their systems can communicate, both with the technicians in the back of the shop and with the shop’s customers. Applications to participate rolled in. Hunter, NAPA Auto Care, BG Products, Eurovent, Coats, Mitchell1, Shop Boss, Kukui to name just some – you name them, they were going to be there. ETI signed on to join us as a partner. We went out to the industry with a Call for Papers effort that saw over 120 great classes be submitted for review, and our expert panel of Shop Owners and Technicians read and reviewed each one, and curated a schedule of training sessions that had three days of Underhood, Undercar and Business Management Sessions – something for everyone. When Vic Tarasik and I walked through the Vision KC show in March, the excitement for Repair Shop HQ was palpable.
Well, we all know what happened next – COVID-19 hit, and everything came to a screeching halt. For a while, it looked like AAPEX would be able to happen in Las Vegas in person, but when we had to cancel the in person event and create the Virtual AAPEX Experience, the focus was obvious – it would be a virtual version of everything we were going to do in Repair Shop HQ.
We now have over 100 training sessions and demos that you can watch, either live or on demand. We have 200 companies that want to do business with Shop Owners and Technicians. Joe’s Garage has been transformed into an online experience that allows you to see what each company would have showed you in Vegas. ASE has joined us for the first time.
So go find a class to sit in. Go look at all of the New Products that are out in the market. Go talk to a potential new vendor, or just catch up with one that you know. You can do it all at the Virtual AAPEX Experience, just like you would in Vegas.
We will be back, in Las Vegas, in 2021, with Repair Shop HQ, Joe’s Garage, and all the amazing experiences that we were hoping to bring this year. But in the meanwhile, we hope that everyone enjoys of all the offerings that the Virtual AAPEX Experience has to offer this week.