Vision Hi-Tech 2017 breaks records
Overland Park, Kan.—After 25 years, the Vision Hi-Tech Training & Expo continues to grow, attracting attendees from across the country and even around the world hungry for top-notch technical and management training. This year’s event, March 2-5, in Overland Park, Kan., continued to break records, with 3,542 in attendance from 45 states, six Canadian provinces, St. Maarten, the British Virgin Islands and Harare, Zimbabwe.
Sheri Hamilton, executive director of ASA-Midwest, began working on the event with event founders Jerry Holcom and Doug Stoll 21 years ago and expressed her gratitude to them at the Saturday morning general session.
“They’ve been my mentors throughout the years. You guys have made an amazing impact on my life and on this industry, and I don’t think ‘Thank you’ can ever be enough. I can truly see the difference in this industry and that I hope I am fulfilling the vision and the dream you have for this program.”
ASA National Vice President Tony Molla, who spoke at Saturday’s general session, said, “This is something that is a phenomenon within the industry, how much it’s grown. It speaks to the impact that one or two people can have when they have a good idea.”
Going forward, he said, automotive service professionals face not only technological but legislative challenges.
“We need the critical mass of the collective voice we have to make sure our interests are represented when important decisions are being made about how information will be handled, what access you will have to that information that is resident on most vehicles today, and what rules we’re going to have to follow in order to be able to make sure that information stays secure. ASA National is working hand-in-glove with many different associations all across the supply chain to make sure the needs of the service dealers are met.”
Thursday night’s popular Hi-Tech Tool Expo, now in its third year, was a “show within a show,” with more than a dozen exhibitors showcasing diagnostic and other high-tech equipment after a full day of high-tech and management training.
Vision also continues to grow its educators’ segment. The Vision eXchange Lunch & Discussion, now in its fourth year, has grown each year, from 125 attendees in its first year to almost 350 people this year. It was part of an all-day Educator Think Tank Session offering on Friday that included technical topics such as wiring diagram analysis and industry partnerships.
Bill Lieb, Automotive Service Technology instructor at the Career Technical Center at Fort Osage, in Independence, Mo., was named Educator of the Year at the Vision eXchange.
Chris Chesney, senior director of customer training at Advance Auto Parts-CARQUEST Technical Institute, spoke of the passion of the late Dave DeCourcey, who was a trainer, training advocate, mobile diagnostician, and owner of D&D Professional Automotive Services in Leicester, Mass., and who had worked for Chesney for seven years.
An annual “full-ride” scholarship to Vision was established this year in DeCourcey’s name to add to the four $1,000 scholarships given to high school and college students pursuing a degree in automotive technology, as part of the Technicians of Tomorrow Educational Foundation.
Saturday’s keynote speaker, Scott McKain, an author of numerous books, including “Create Distinction,” spoke on how shops can stand out from their competition.
Not only are today’s cars changing compared to six years ago, so are customers, with higher expectations of product and service performance, he said.
“The car has become so technical, they don’t understand what you do,” he said. “That’s why they need you. That’s why they depend on you. But what they do know is how they feel about doing business with you.”
Pointing out that if one can have a favorite brand of water, what would logically be seen as a commodity, automotive service professionals need to show their customers what makes them special, he said.
“Seventy percent of frontline employees cannot describe to a customer why it’s better to get your car fixed at your shop as opposed to someone else’s,” he said.
During Saturday night’s Celebration of Independents Awards Dinner, the Automotive Management Institute (AMI), of which Hamilton is chairwoman, graduated three Accredited Automotive Managers (AAM) with 120 credit hours, and 40 in the relatively new Accredited Master Automotive Manager designation, with 180 credit hours.
Sherri Stock and Jared McPike, owners of inMOTION Auto Care in Lincoln, Neb., were awarded Service Facility of the Year. Rick Tyner, of Viper Tradeshow Service, was recognized by Holcom with the President’s Award for his 25-year partnership with the event. Advanced Car Care Center, Strafford, Mo., was the winner of the Green Star Service Facility award, and E&M Motors, in Stuart, Fla., received the Best Website award.
Snap-on Tools’ Diagnostic Thermal Imager, which uses infrared technology to reveal heat, friction, electrical resistance, pressure changes, won the Professional’s Choice Best New Product award, voted on by Vision attendees from a New Product Showcase in front of the 60,000-square-foot expo floor.
Chesney spoke at the Sunday morning general session about his start in the industry, how he was mentored, and later mentored technicians in his early 20s. Too many shops treat their apprentices poorly, giving them menial jobs such as pushing a broom instead of showing them the ropes, he said, and they need to get involved to grow their own technicians and show them there is a career path in the industry.
AMI President Jeff Peevy spoke of recent enhancements, including its online courses, which tests students to show what their learning style is. A better educated technician maximizes the investment the shop has made in its equipment, and greater knowledge equals competitiveness, he said.
“Learning is the only source of a sustainable competitive advantage,” he said.
2017 attendance stats:
• More than 24,250 hours of management and technical training taken over the 3-1/2 day event.
• More than 1,700 automotive service professionals attended training
• 3,542 automotive service professionals in attendance
• 2017 was an international event with attendees from:
– 45 states within the U.S.
– Six Canadian provinces
– Harare, Zimbabwe (Africa)
– St. Maarten
– British Virgin Islands