Cars and technology are evolving fast. Get the information you need to stay relevant at NACE | CARS 2016 in Anaheim, Calif. ASA’s Dan Risley tells you how.
Carm Capriotto: Hi, Dan. I’m glad you could be here for another “In The Trenches” interview. Today, we’re going to talk about this year’s NACE | CARS Expo and Conference. So is it collision or repair?
Dan Risley: It’s both. They’re two words, two names that represent two different industry segments. NACE represents the collision repair side of the industry, and CARS represents the service repair side.
CC: And it’s going to Anaheim, Calif., in August. Is this the first time out West?
DR: That’s the furthest West this show has ever been. Prior to this, we’ve had our show in Las Vegas. This is the first time we’re taking it to California. So we’re really excited to see the type of response we get. Obviously, there’s a dense population of shops in that area, and quite a few of our exhibitors are based in California as well.
CC: What’s going to make NACE | CARS in Anaheim even better than last year?
DR: I think what sets us apart from anybody else is the level of participation and support we’re getting from the car manufacturers. This year, no less than 10 different car manufacturers will be either exhibiting or providing sponsorship, training or education to our program. That’s unprecedented! By virtue of the number of car manufacturers that will be present – not only on the exhibit floor, but also those that will offer educational seminars or training – this is really a game-changer for us.
CC: I’ve seen you be more intimate with the car manufacturers of late.
DR: We have to, Carm. The industry is changing quickly. Cars and technology are evolving so fast that not having their participation would be a huge miss for our show. If you look back to the ’80s, when the show really started to grow, the growth was spurred on by the technological changes in the vehicles themselves.
They went from a full-frame to a unibody construction, and everybody wanted to learn all about this technology and the equipment and training you needed. Today, the OEs should be a big part of the show because the technology is changing so quickly that repairers need information so they know how to properly fix the cars.
CC: When I think of expos and conferences, I think of a product and equipment show. I think seminars, networking. Is NACE | CARS going to be over the top again this year?
DR: It has to be. At the shows we used to put on in the ’80s and ’90s, people would come to buy product and see the newest and latest equipment that was available. That still exists today. But what has evolved for us are the seminars, and they need to continue to evolve. They’re the networking piece of it.
Our industry benefits greatly from any opportunity where you can network with industry leaders. And our show brings the industry leadership together so you can talk to the people who are helping influence and shape the industry.
CC: What type of training are we going to see this year? Hands-on, seminars, live demos, OEM classes, symposiums?
DR: We have General Motors teaching a class on the CT6; Chrysler talking about the new Pacifica; Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, Tesla, Ford and Audi talking about the QR7, Mazda, and BMW. Really, it’s an unprecedented lineup of OE support.
In addition, we have three high-impact seminars that I think are very different from what you’d get anywhere else. One is our Technology & Telematics Forum, which discusses the future of telematics and what’s available today. You’ll continue to see us add more layers of complexity to our show that are specific to the telematics piece because that impacts both sides of our house: the collision and mechanical sides. And, of course, we have our Service Repair Leadership Forum, which is for the leaders in the industry for the service repair side.
One of our marquee pieces is the MSO Symposium, the sixth year we’ve done this. It brings the leadership in the collision repair industry together under one roof to talk about the future of the industry and what direction we’re going with consolidation. We’ve seen a quick ramp-up of consolidation, where we have large MSOs buying up most of the regional players in the industry. So this year, it will focus heavily on the larger MSOs in the industry. I’ll call them Tier 2 MSOs, in the sense of their size and scale.
CC: I remember last year there were a lot of management seminars. Same thing this year?
DR: For CARS, that’s the primary focus: management and leadership. There’s a proliferation of technical training offered throughout the country on a regional level, and we felt that our focus should be on management leadership. The people coming to our show are the shop owners, the service writers. So you’re going to see some of the best industry speakers and trainers deliver some outstanding content.
And I’ll also emphasize the networking, because that is a huge part of any show. It’s being able to talk with other industry leaders and like-minded folks. And, often, even though you attend the educational seminars and classes, sometimes the best information you’ll get is talking to someone who’s just like you.
CC: What are you doing to improve the networking to make it better?
DR: Well, we made a pretty significant change this year. Instead of a General Session, we’re investing in a Welcome Reception, Wednesday night at 6 o’clock. Sponsored by the car manufacturers, it’s open to all registered attendees and exhibitors and will offer an opportunity to talk with some folks they may not see on the show floor. We’re going to have free drinks and food and some entertainment as well.
CC: So bring your business cards, bring your questions because you can get one-on-one information from people!
DR: I think people are really going to enjoy that.
Did You Know?
More OEMs will gather at NACE | CARS 2016 than ever before to discuss repair of the newest vehicles on the market. Companies such as Audi, BMW, FCA, Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Mazda, Nissan, Toyota and more will give training to address specific repairs and information on becoming a certified repair shop. All OEM classes are free to Conference & Expo attendees. Plus, visit the Expo to get a close-up look at the newest model vehicles and cutaways.
CC: You’re connected. You know everyone in the industry. You know what shows are going on. Have you seen more attendance at the regional and national shows?
DR: This is not specific to NACE | CARS, but there has been a steady decline in attendance. Some of it has been due to consolidation, and some of it is the value proposition around trade shows in general. But it’s up to us to reinvent what a trade show is.
We want this to be an industry event, not a NACE | CARS trade show. So we reached out to more than a dozen co-located events, and they’ll be hosting meetings, board meetings, conferences, seminars of their own that will bookend the show.
We’re hosting two really large groups from the West Coast, having either seminars or board meetings in Anaheim: the California Autobody Association (CAA), which is the largest association in California for collision repair shops, and the Automotive Service Councils of California (ASCCA). Hundreds of the brightest minds in the industry belong to these two associations. So it’s a pretty exciting time for us.
Those co-located events are going to drive attendance. Not the numbers we saw back in the ’80s and ’90s, but they’ll drive the right attendance. I want to have the thought leaders. I want to have the market leaders. I want the people who are going to be here five years from now.
And by focusing on these co-located events, we’re identifying these people because they’re the ones who get it. They’re already investing their time, money and energy to stay ahead of the curve.
CC: What did I hear about a ride-and-drive, that visitors could be the first ones to drive a 2017 Ford Super Duty?
DR: For the first time ever, I’m proud that Ford’s going to be bringing their 2017 Ford F350 to the show. Not only are you going to see it, you can actually drive the vehicle. Hopefully, this is something we can build on for next year and future years, not only for potential buyers but also the people who will be repairing them.
CC: Do you need to be an ASA member to go to NACE | CARS?
DR: No. We own the show. It’s an industry event. That’s not just collision repair shops and not just the service repair shops. We want the car manufacturers there. We want the information providers there. And we’re always reaching out to the insurance industry.
Their folks are looking at cars, writing estimates and negotiating with shops every day. We want them to see the latest technology so they can bring it back to their folks and educate them on what it really takes to repair a vehicle, especially with the evolution of today’s vehicle technology.
CC: So I’m going to go to Anaheim. Do I plan a family trip to Disneyland?
DR: Well, Carm, I hope you will. I’m planning a family trip to Disneyland, myself. I’m going to be broke when I’m done (laughs), but I’m bringing my four kids with me. They’re not kids any more, they’re teenagers and adults. But they’ll be with me, and they’ll be enjoying Anaheim and going over to the beach shortly after the show.
One of the allures of Anaheim, obviously, was the family element. You know, often, if you’re a service repair shop owner or a collision shop owner, finding time to get away on a vacation can be difficult. But when you can mix a little business with a little pleasure, it’s a great recipe for success.
CC: Great idea! You know, people who go to a conference like NACE | CARS spend their time, money and resources to get there. What’s the biggest value received for someone going to NACE | CARS?
DR: It’s staying on the cutting edge, Carm. If you’re inside the four walls of your shop, you don’t know what’s happening around you. So the cars are pulling in, but you don’t know. When you have the 2016 or the 2017 roll-ins, you need to be aware of what sorts of metals are on that vehicle.
You need to understand that there are probably some things in the telematics arena that you may not be able to repair. The biggest value is gaining the knowledge and the information you need to continue to stay relevant and continue to be a market leader.
YANG Meet-Up Scheduled for NACE | CARS 2016
Hosted by NACE | CARS 2016 and organized by the Auto Care Association and Stone Fort Group, the Young Auto Care Network Group (YANG) Meet-Up will take place Thursday, Aug. 11, during NACE | CARS 2016 at the Anaheim Convention Center, from 3-5 p.m.
YANG was formed in January 2014 and provides auto care professionals in their 20s and 30s the opportunity to network with industry peers, enhance knowledge and improve leadership capabilities. YANG participants are future executive-level staffers of the auto care industry that see the value in establishing connections with other young professionals who will one day be business owners and key decision makers.
“The YANG Advisory Council is extremely excited and honored to be holding a regional experience at NACE,” says Alena Van Cleave, chairman, YANG. “This event will afford the young members of NACE and the auto care industry an opportunity to connect with one another at a unique venue. We would like to thank NACE for offering to host this event and encourage everyone in the under-40 crowd to attend.”
For additional event information, visit www.NACEexpo.com or www.CARSevent.com.