NACE 2007 is Taking Care of BusinessPosted 10/8/2007
25th NACE Offers Choices to Make it the 'World's Collision Repair Event'
Q&A Interview with Galen Poss
If you're a newcomer to the International Autobody Congress and Exposition (NACE), the name "Galen Poss" may not ring a bell. Poss is the president of Hanley Wood Exhibitions, which manages NACE. But if you've attended some shows in your time, then Galen Poss may be as much a part of your NACE vocabulary as "trade show floor" "name badge" and "tired feet." Poss has been credited with turning NACE into the "premier collision repair event" that it has become during the past 25 years. Recently, AutoInc. had the opportunity to ask Poss questions about his history and involvement with NACE and to reflect on his 25 years of shaping NACE into the show that it is.
AutoInc.: Galen, you've been organizing NACE for 25 years now. Please tell us a little bit about your background with running the show (including origins) for those readers who aren't familiar with its history.
Galen Poss: I was working for the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau in 1979, when Allen Richey, then executive director of the Independent Automotive Service Association (IASA), offered me the opportunity to join IASA as its convention and trade show manager. I worked for the association for three years and then, in early 1983, formed Precision Planning and Sales (PPS), an independent show organizer firm. IASA became the first PPS customer.
Shortly after forming PPS, I shared with Allen the idea for NACE but told him the only way it could really succeed was if both IASA and the Automotive Service Councils (ASC) agreed to get behind the event. This made perfect business sense but at the time IASA and ASC were like the "Hatfields and McCoys." To their credit, Allen and Bud Merwin, the ASC president at the time, put their personal differences aside and agreed to work together to launch NACE. The original plan was that IASA, ASC and PPS would each own equal shares of the show and then this group of three would contract with PPS to produce NACE. However, ASC was concerned that due to my past relationship with IASA, that any important decisions would always be 2-1 not in ASC's favor. The compromise reached provided each association with 50 percent ownership and PPS with operational control of the show.
Six months later, the first NACE took place in November at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville. The first show had 74 exhibiting companies, 171 booths and a total attendance of 1,573. Two years later, in 1985, IASA and ASC merged to form ASA and the rest ... as they say, is "history."
AutoInc.: During those early days of NACE, what were your expectations and goals for the show? Did you ever imagine that it would grow to the size and influence that it has today?
Poss: As part of the original proposal to IASA and ASC, I included a five-year growth plan. Very much to my surprise - and everyone else close to NACE - we exceeded the five-year plan halfway through the third year. This success was driven, I think, by two unanticipated factors ... first, the distributor community embraced NACE from day one and really worked hard to make it a success. Secondly, all aspects of the industry embraced NACE as its own event. The press, other trade associations, the shop owners, manufacturers and educators all got squarely behind the show. No one ever imagined it could reach the NACE records of 656 companies, 2,778 booths and 41,043 attendees.
AutoInc.: Building on a show's success year after year must require that you keep your fingers on the pulse of this constantly evolving industry. How do you and the show's organizers stay on top of the changes to help plan content for NACE each year?
Poss: From the very beginning, we knew the show had to serve the needs of collision repair professionals and their suppliers. With this in mind, we have always worked closely with the advisory councils from both these groups in shaping the direction and curriculum of NACE. This has kept the event in tune with the industry and its ever-changing needs. Personally, the closest I have ever come to actually doing collision repair was using a "sawed off" baseball bat to beat the fender off of my 1965 MGB after I ran it into a palm tree. Without the tremendous support of countless volunteers over the last 25 years, NACE could never have grown or succeeded.
AutoInc.: Give us one or two of your most memorable moments from a NACE show.
Poss: Two come to mind and both were fairly early in the show's history. The first was 1989 in Dallas. Joe Joliet (then marketing manager of Chief Industries) and I were talking at the end of the show. It had been a "gangbuster," and I was feeling a little bit too full of myself and acting a little too cavalier in regard to the show. Joe, in a nice but very firm way, reminded me that how well Chief did at the show had a direct bearing on how many people kept their jobs back in Grand Island, Neb. This really struck home, and ever since, I have always tried to approach NACE with what Joe said. The second "Oh, wow" moment was a year later in New Orleans. Bill Wade (then ABRN publisher) and I were standing in the back of the general session where G. Gordon Liddy was speaking. Bill turned to me and said, "Do you know what NACE has done?" Not sure where he was going, I elected to remain silent rather than answer. He continued, "NACE has changed our industry. In 1983 the attendees showed up in their work clothes and now seven years later they show up in blazers, jackets and as true business professionals. NACE has been the catalyst that has driven this change."
AutoInc.: From a management perspective, what is the biggest challenge in running such a colossal show?
Poss: During the first 15 years it was securing venues and dates for an event that was growing as fast as NACE. Over the last 10 years it has been keeping the show fresh as the industry has changed and consolidated. From an operational standpoint, we have always tried to make NACE feel very personal for those who attend and to make it run as smooth as a 50-person conference although it is a 30,000-plus attendee behemoth. This is somewhat like trying to get a very fat hippo to dance like a ballerina.
AutoInc.: How has NACE changed over the years, in terms of (1) the trade show, (2) the speakers, (3) the educational offerings and (4) the collision repairer.
Poss: The answer here is similar to the last question. During the first 15 years or so, NACE was an ever-expanding whirlwind driven first by the introduction of the unibody, which was followed closely by EPA guidelines governing paint application and shop procedures, the introduction of technology and estimating systems, and the scramble by the paint companies to secure long-term use agreements with the shops. The last 10 years have seen consolidation in the number of collision repair facilities and suppliers along with the growth of the insurer as a dominant force in the repair process. Large repair operations continue to get bigger and smaller shops become more specialized. Those in the middle have been - and are being - forced to choose one direction or the other in order to survive and hopefully prevail.
AutoInc.: Celebrating 25 years of a show (especially in the highly competitive and demanding meetings and travel industry) is a big deal. What would you say is one key ingredient to NACE's success year after year?
Poss: The quality of those who attend and their willingness to share. The networking that takes place and the relationships that are formed during and through NACE are the "special sauce" that makes it unique.
AutoInc.: Anything else about NACE that you'd like to add?
Poss: Just want to say thanks to all the terrific people who have contributed and worked to make NACE what it has been for the last 25 years and what it will be for the next 25. In the end, NACE belongs to the collision repair industry. It has been, and I believe always should be, a reflection of the industry it serves.
The Official NACE Online Daily News www.NACENOW.com
Whether you're attending NACE in person or observing from your shop, look to the NACE Online Daily News to keep you on top of all the events taking place during Industry Week. The Online Daily News has been the trusted source for news at NACE for more than 10 years. Sponsored by AutoInc., the NACE Online Daily News is again the official online publication of NACE 2007. Coverage begins Wednesday, Oct. 31, and continues through Saturday, Nov. 3. AutoInc. reporters will be covering events live from the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. Coverage will include a summary of key events, seminars, speakers, press conferences and special activities going on during the trade show.
Visitors can also access daily photos from the event. The Online Daily News will also host a live Webcast from the ASA booth (W3367) on the exposition floor. The live Webcast will take place during exposition hours. So come by and wave to your friends and family back home.
In addition, several podcasts are scheduled throughout the event. Hear key speeches and press conferences, even if you're not at this year's event. Visitors can listen to the free podcasts through www.NACENOW.com, or download them directly to their MP3 devices.
If you can't attend NACE, you can still log on to www.NACENOW.com and get a glimpse of this year's show as if you were actually there!
There's More To Do in Vegas Than Gamble
Clinking slot machines, crowded blackjack tables, bustling patrons - this is the scene many envision when they think of Las Vegas, but there is more to do in Vegas than gamble.
During your trip to Industry Week, you'll have downtime to see the sites and shows that make Las Vegas the attraction that it is today. Here are a few suggestions of other ways to spend your free time in Vegas in ASA's "Insider's Guide to Las Vegas Entertainment."
Toni Braxton: Revealed
Six-time Grammy award-winning artist Toni Braxton brings a musical production featuring her distinctive voice, her incredible band, background singers and dancers and more to the Flamingo Las Vegas Showroom. "Revealed" will showcase at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31 - Saturday, Nov. 3. For reservations, call (888) 902-9929 or visit www.flamingolasvegas.com to register online.
Twenty-two ABBA songs linked by a romantic narrative have created a must-see extravaganza. The Broadway hit has been compelling audiences around the world, and its Vegas shows will certainly make believers out of skeptics. Be prepared for song, dance and plenty of audience engagement. Showing at the Mandalay Bay Theatre, located in the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, this show promises to be one you won't stop talking about for weeks. Showing on Wednesday, Oct. 31 at 7:30 p.m.; Thursday, Nov. 1 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 3 at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. For reservations, call (877) 632-7800.
If you like to gather with friends over drinks while someone tickles the ivories, then you'll want to check out one, or both, of these shows. The Bar at Times Square in the New York New York Hotel and Casino and at the "Piano Bar" at Harrah's Las Vegas both feature dueling pianos playing the best music, as judged by you, the audience. The show at the Bar at Times Square is from 8 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Thursday through Sunday (Reservations: (702) 740-6969). At Harrah's "Piano Bar," show times are from 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Thursday through Sunday (Reservations: (702) 369-5000).
Harrah's Las Vegas will host "Marshall Sylver Presents: The World's Funniest Hypnotists" - a handpicked rotating lineup featuring some of the most hysterical hypnotists from across the world. Stop in for a few laughs and enjoy the classic production and incredible acts that make up this 90-minute show. Show times are Wednesday through Sunday, starting at 10 p.m. Reservations can be made online at www.harrahs.com or by calling (702) 369-5111.
If none of these things strike your fancy, there are plenty of other things to do while in Las Vegas, from spa resorts to award-winning golf.
"Steck Manufacturing went to the very first NACE Show in Nashville because we heard it was a show for technicians. We wanted feedback on our newest product. The show was impressive. At opening time, the local high school band, at full volume, marched through the exhibit hall. There was no doubt in anyone's mind, "This show is open!" And the attendees followed. NACE has blossomed into the premier industry show, and Steck has exhibited every year."
First-Ever Women's Professional
The first-ever Women's Professional Development Track will debut this year at NACE, with four brand-new sessions to further develop the skills and careers of women who are directly or indirectly involved in the collision repair and automotive service industries.
The courses are approved by the Automotive Management Institute (AMI) and will earn credits toward the institute's Accredited Automotive Manager (AAM) designation. The following courses are scheduled: "How to Communicate Like a Pro," which will focus on developing powerful spoken and written communication skills; "A Brand-New You ... Assertiveness Skills that Lead to Success," designed to develop women into strong, gutsy decision-makers and risk-takers; "Developing Your Own Road Map," which will focus on self-improvement and how to achieve goals; and "Overcoming Obstacles," a session that will cover time management techniques and assertive training.
"This new Women's Professional Development Track will provide education and training for women who are directly involved in the business as owners, managers, partners and service advisers, as well as women who have their own careers and interests outside of the business," said Toni Slaton, AAM, executive director of AMI. "As a woman in the industry, it's exciting to launch a relevant program that will help women further develop the business skills necessary to be even more successful."
The sessions will last 1-1/2 hours and will take place throughout NACE. For more information, contact AMI, (800) 272-7467, ext. 241, or visit the Schedule-At-A-Glance portion of the NACE Web site, www.NACEExpo.com. Registration for the Women's Professional Development Track will be available on the NACE Web site.
"The NACE experience provides an excellent educational opportunity and experience for the industry. Industry professionals attend NACE to educate themselves on the latest trends, products, equipment, and technical information. I-CAR is proud to continue its participation and support of NACE 2007."
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