NAPA Expo shines as it defines today, inspires tomorrow
Las Vegas—There was no mistaking the venue for the 2015 NAPA Expo, as sequined showgirls swirled across a stage under a cascade of lights at the beginning of the Store Owners Meeting, which opened the weeklong display of celebration, networking and education in Las Vegas, May 5-8.
“It’s a special moment for us, as it’s the 90th birthday for NAPA Auto Parts,” began Dan Askey, president of NAPA Auto Parts, a company that began in 1925, adding that it was the biggest aftermarket event ever held by one company in the U.S.
“Our future is very bright, and all the metrics are very positive, as the average age of vehicles is 11.5 years and miles-driven continues to improve. It’s going to be a good next few years.”
There were 18,000 NAPA store and NAPA AutoCare Center owners and their employees in attendance, to whom Askey gave a “heart-felt thank you” for taking part in the Expo, which also included numerous speakers, a trade show and welcoming reception that featured celebrities such as Dale Earnhart Jr., Chip Foose and Chase Elliot, among many more.
The event was built around one of NAPA’s core, common goals to build stronger relationships with suppliers, store owners, employees and the customers who “throw the box away.”
Store owner Jeff Pelly, of The Rock Parts Co., in Castle Rock, Colo., spoke with Askey during a Q&A session, and discussed how he planned to leverage what he learned and experienced at the Expo for his business, including taking advantage of each day’s General Session presentations and the event’s numerous seminars. “We’re also spending time with customers on the Expo floor so we can listen to them express their ideas, whether it involves specialty equipment, TRACS or how to help them build a better website,” Pelly said. “It’s our goal to help our customers get to the places they want to go with their businesses.”
In an ever-changing business environment, in which companies such as Google and Amazon are making the search and purchase of parts readily available, guest speaker Chris Brogan, a professional strategist and advisor, assured attendees that brick-and-mortar offers customers more than just a click of a mouse for online vendors. “They don’t offer the ‘NAPA Know How’ and its customer service. There’s a relationship that builds with a NAPA customer that is more than just buying a part. NAPA offers great opportunity, for both wholesale and retail, because it’s nimble, fast and relationship-building — it provides the next level of service, with the customer knowing they’re going to be taken care of before and after the sale.”
Brogan also told attendees they must make themselves irreplaceable to customers, and “make the buyer the hero,” through support, solving their needs and helping them grow their businesses — “Make them look good, make them successful,” he said.
NAPA and Hendricks hit the track
Askey shared news that NAPA’s motorsports program will become the majority sponsor of driver Chase Elliot and his No. 24 Chevrolet SS team. It represents a partnership with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions Hendrick Motorsports.
“I always wanted NAPA in our family and we’ve always had NAPA in our heart,” said Rick Hendrick, owner, Hendrick Motorsports, who announced that from 2016 through 2018, NAPA will be the primary sponsor of Chase Elliot. “We’ve got this kid, and if we surround him with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Bill Elliot we can have something special.”
Askey, who added that Hendrick is also chairman of the Hendrick Automotive Group, the largest, privately held dealership group in the U.S. with more than 100 dealerships, said Hendrick Motorsports has won 11 straight Sprint Cup championships and “we’re excited to have a winner with NAPA.”
Since NAPA’s last Expo, in 2005, much has changed with the company, said Paul Donahue, president, Genuine Parts Co. “We’ve gone international and, unlike 10 years ago, this is now an international event,” with partners from Australia, New Zealand, prospective owners from Mexico, Canada and U.S. members.
“We want to provide all of you the tools needed to grow business today and into the future,” he said.
By the numbers
- 18,000 attendees (including, from Australia: 300; New Zealand: 100; Canada: 800; and U.S.: 16,000).
- 100 seminars
- 150 exhibitors
- 400,000-plus square feet of show floor space
- 2.5 — years spent planning the event
- $2 million — 2015 fund-raising goal for Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund ($3 million raised since 2012)