Expect To Be Wowed

July’s NACE | CARS show promises a ‘Right Now’ experience.

EDITOR’S NOTE: It takes enormous advance planning to stage an event like this year’s NACE | CARS Expo scheduled for July 23-25 at Detroit’s Cobo Center. The conference is scheduled July 21-25. To give you a head’s up what to expect, we turned to the two men most responsible for getting it together: Donny Seyfer and Dan Risley. As ASA’s new chairman, Seyfer led the planning for CARS, and Risley, ASA’s president and executive director, organized the NACE portion of the show. We asked them to offer their thoughts on presentations, prominent presenters and new features designed to make this NACE | CARS the best ever.

  • Dan Risley

    Dan Risley

  • Donny Seyfer

    Donny Seyfer

AutoInc.: Is there a particular area of focus or main theme for NACE | CARS this year?
Donny Seyfer: With NACE, we’re continuing to build on the success of last year’s show in Detroit. The recipe seems to work based on the extremely positive response from the collision industry. I see NACE again being the show you cannot miss. CARS has been looking for its niche, and I believe we’ve found it.

AI: What were some of the challenges to getting ready for this year’s CARS?
DS: The challenge our board had was twofold. First, how do you put on a program that resonates with those owners and managers and second, how do you avoid competing with the fantastic programs our affiliates stage? The new CARS is focused on short, meaningful programs that will help our attendees get the latest information on business and public policy that could affect them, legislative activity and making their operation better. Not coincidentally, many of the teachers for these programs are our members. ASA has a treasure trove of talented members who are really the best in the business.

AI: What important new features of this year’s show will make it even more relevant to attendees?
DS: With CARS, we’re catering to the business owner and manager. We’re repeating our Telematics and Technology Forum, which was one of last year’s home runs. But we’re really focusing on technology. There are technologies coming out that are absolutely new and will result in a change in how we service vehicles. We’ve been able to arrange for experts, the engineers behind the technologies, to come and present an overview of these new technologies and how they will affect our members. This will put CARS attendees several years ahead of the rest of the industry in preparing and positioning themselves to be the leaders in their respective markets. These are offerings that no other program has for the service repair professional.

AI: What about new programs?
DS: We’ve added a new program called Service Ready July 22. OEs are going to show you their culture and help you understand the best ways to service their vehicle brands. This is an unprecedented offering, and it’s no surprise that VW jumped right into it.
Wednesday through Friday, we have a series of 30-minute programs that we’ve been referring to as “Speed Dating for Shop Owners.” We’ve asked experts in narrow topics to provide attendees with their best 30 minutes of material. For example: Robin Rayburn, editor of Interviewing.com, will give a program on interviewing technicians when they’re not technical. And our own Greg Buckley has a program on increasing sales using technology. Anybody who knows Greg knows he is the guru at blending his sales process with cutting-edge products like Google Glass.

AI: Did you get any comments last year that contributed to this year’s show?
DS: Based on feedback, we’ll have four panel discussions and a couple of television-style interviews that I think will be engaging. Our moderators are Sheri Hamilton, executive director of ASA-Midwest; Tony Molla, vice president of ASA; Bob Wills, director of ASA’s mechanical division; and Holly Miller, legislative analyst, ASA’s Washington, D.C., office. Can you really afford to miss a panel called “Girl Power: Attracting, Working With and Helping Women Succeed in Your Business.” Especially when the participants include Bogi Lateiner, of TV’s “All Girls Garage” and owner of 180 Automotive; Carolyn Coquillette, owner of Luscious Garage; Trish Serratore, president of NATEF/AYES. Our other topics include: “Diversifying Revenue Streams,” “Growing New Talent” and “The Future: What Will We Be Working On?”

Also new: Our Service and Repair Leadership Forum is a five-hour session that takes place Friday. It’s intended to bring together the best of the best from repair shop owners, parts suppliers, industry service providers and industry experts to learn about and discuss the most important topics in our industry. They’ll talk about things like parts quality issues, key business measurement techniques, marketing for this generation and multiple shop operations. We are excited to have Maylan Newton and Bob Greenwood as our moderators/teachers for this event. We see this as an annual program for CARS. We’re limited to 200 total attendees so our members need to look for the invitation in their email inboxes and respond quickly because we anticipate a sellout long before registration closes.

AI: What are you most excited about?
DS: I’m most excited about our second-year offering of the “Young Technician’s Symposium.” We’ve partnered with Bob Pattengale and Jim Wilson from Bosch to create a program that will help technicians with two to four years of real-world experience move from light, general duties to performing diagnostic services at a high level of competency. Jim’s teaching method is high-tech, fast-paced and really resonates with younger technicians. I can attest to the effectiveness of this program because last year one of my technicians attended and came home with skills that he put to use diagnosing electrical issues on Day One. It was truly impressive. We only have 30 spots in this program, and they will fill up fast.

AI: We’ve heard there’s something else exceptional about this symposium.
DS: Yes. What really sets this program apart is that starting with the ASA board members, who have created a scholarship out of their own pockets, companies throughout the industry are creating scholarships to cover airfare and hotels to bring our future techs to Detroit. What makes me really proud is that we are putting our money where our future lies. Too many in our industry complain that there are not enough quality technicians. This is a fantastic way that the industry is working together to deliver a program that impacts these techs immediately.

AI: Tell us about your involvement with the education track for the show.
DS: With the recent retirement of our beloved Robbie Addison Haas, we needed someone to handle the education tracks for both NACE and CARS. It’s a big job, so the ASA board approved our president, Dan Risley, taking charge of the NACE program, and I took CARS. It’s so rewarding to pick up the phone and ask someone to participate and getting not only a “yes,” but also an enthusiastic “yes.”

AI: At last year’s NACE | CARS show, a lot of emphasis was placed on telematics. What will be happening in that area now? How will it be discussed this year?
DS: Many of our members have questioned why we are so far out in front of this issue. The fact is, we recognize telematics as not only a technology frontier that our members will need to master but also a potential topic that could fracture the relationships that we have worked so hard to foster between the independent repair shops, the aftermarket associations and the carmakers if we don’t understand each other’s challenges and needs. We will continue to stay on the cutting edge of this topic and keep our members up to speed with recommendations concerning how they can be prepared and involved as these technologies hit the streets. It will become an issue for our collision members first, so I hope they consider attending our telematics and technology program.

AI: What will previous attendees find surprising about this year’s NACE | CARS?
DS: If you attended NACE last year, expect even more. If you did not, expect to be wowed by the work of Dan Risley, Stone Fort Group (the show management company) and the ASA Collision Division Operations Committee. They have an incredible show with interactive displays, the vendors you need to see and training that is Right Now. One word describes CARS: new. We had to make it relevant to our members. If you show up and attend, I guarantee you will head home renewed and excited about what you do.

AI: What are the most relevant new features that have been added to this year’s show?
Dan Risley: New features this year involve training and information. We’ve worked very closely with the car manufacturers to provide training that will be offered for the first time during NACE | CARS. We are excited to have Volkswagen, General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Honda and Toyota during this year’s event. Honda, Chrysler and GM will be introducing new classes that are tied directly to announcements they’ve recently made.

AI: Who are some of the top presenters this year?
DR: We’re extremely fortunate to have a cadre of speakers, including our keynote speakers: NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski and NHRA Hall of Famer John Force. Industry trainers and leaders such as Bob Greenwood, Maylan Newton, Kurt Immekus, Bob Stewart, Chris Chesney, Kevin McCartney, Mike Anderson, Greg Buckley are just a few of the many outstanding presenters we have.

AI: We understand that the demo area will be moved up front this year. Why is this being done and how will it be integrated into the exhibition area, which has usually been located there?
DR: The demonstration areas were a significant change in our show last year and something we will expand in 2015. We incorporated this in our show to differentiate ourselves from competing trade shows and to redefine the trade show experience. Attendees grow tired of walking by static booths. The demonstrations engage attendees and provide a level of entertainment not typically seen on a trade show floor. In fact, we’ve seen a few trade shows try to mirror what we delivered in Detroit, which is a testament to the success we enjoyed.

AI: We also understand that there will be more onsite demos this year than last. Tell us about some of the new ones and why you’ve added them.
DR: We’re expanding the scope of the painting demonstrations because our attendees asked for it. We’ve received approval from the fire marshal to showcase advanced technology in vehicles. Also, there will be a protected area on the show floor where car manufacturers can have drivable vehicles and promote advanced driver safety features, as well as the connected car.