SoCal NACE/CARS continues focus of OEM repair information
Anaheim, Calif.—Last year’s International Autobody Congress & Exhibition/Congress of Automotive Repair and Service (NACE/CARS) largely focused on the challenges of repairing advanced materials, including high-strength steels and aluminum. Continuing that theme, getting and understanding repair information from the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) once again figured prominently in the classrooms and trade show floor at the 34th annual event, held for the first time on the West Coast at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, Calif., Aug. 9-13, and presented by the Automotive Service Association (ASA).
The Technology & Telematics Forum returned for its third year and included topics on vehicle security and accident avoidance technology, in which ASA Chairman-Elect Roy Schnepper, owner of Butler’s Collision in Roseville, Mich., hosted an OE panel discussing new technologies and techniques that directly affect both collision and service repair processes.
As noted at last year’s NACE/CARS by Donny Seyfer, ASA chairman and operations manager of Seyfer Automotive Inc. in Wheat Ridge, Colo., this year’s seminars focused more on management and leadership and not as much on technical information to avoid competing with regional shows (including ASA affiliates) for that same training.
Some exceptions this year were for classes focused on the heavy-duty segment, such as one hosted by Redline Detection on “Quickly Find Hidden Leaks in Heavy Duty Trucks Causing Power, Performance, Fuel Economy, and DPF Regeneration Issues,” and “Heavy Duty Damage Analysis,” by Dean Hancock of Collision Advice.
The popular MSO Symposium returned this year, joined for the second time by the similarly modeled Service Repair Leadership Forum. Co-located events such as the Assured Performance OEM Certification Symposium, Automotive Service Councils of California members meeting, California Autobody Association board and members meeting, Collision Industry Conference, I-CAR International Summit, National Auto Body Council board meeting, and Society of Collision Repair Specialists board meeting brought more attendees into town.
NACE/CARS replaced its traditional morning opening general session with a lively Wednesday evening opening reception in the plaza between the Anaheim Convention Center and two host hotels. Featuring car displays from OEM sponsors, a “ride and drive” of the 2017 Ford Super Duty towing a trailer, a live band playing 1970s through current pop hits, complimentary food from catering trucks, and libations, it was a popular change, with a full crowd of professionals networking and being entertained until the band’s last set.
Another new feature was demos by custom painters Rich Evans and Ryan Templeton in the Outdoor Expo using Shop-Pro portable prep stations, while large evaporative-cooler fans kept attendees cool while they sipped on frothy beverages in the adjacent beer garden.
Preliminary figures provided by ASA President Dan Risley indicated that attendance was 8,000 attendees, a number he said was up from last year’s event total of 6,500, and an exhibitor count jump from 189 last year to 228 this year.
Participation from OEMs, in particular, has grown, even with the move from Detroit to a total of 11 show exhibitors. The 2017 NACE/CARS will move to Atlanta, and with Mercedes-Benz and Porsche’s U.S. headquarters there, Risley said he hopes to attract them to participate in the show as it transitions from a “selling show” to a “learning show.”
“Those OE training programs have the highest number of participants in all of the classes,” said Brian Nessen, partner of Stone Fort Group, which produces NACE/CARS. “The feedback from the OEs putting on these classes has been very positive. It’s a combination of activity at their booths and the training programs, and we anticipate they will continue their involvement.”
Risley said that Toyota’s classes had 100 attendees in one class and 50 in another, and the company was pleased with the reach it received in helping get its information out to repairers.
Although several smaller paint manufacturers had booths, only one major paint manufacturer — AkzoNobel — had a booth. BASF tried out a smaller marketing presence with a smaller booth featuring a Chip Foose-built truck and a smaller staff. Risley said he and other show staff will be talking with other paint manufacturers about featuring something similar at next year’s show to reduce their cost but maintain a marketing presence and support ASA members.