John Ratzenberger, featured speaker at the 2015 ATRA Powertrain Expo luncheon, hosted by Raybestos, says “all my heroes growing up were people who had their own tools and knew how to use them.”Dennis Madden (l), ATRA CEO, and Rodger Bland, GEARS magazine managing editor, conduct the popular “What’s Working” seminar, covering finding new talent. John Miller (r.), of Precision International, accepts the 2015 Distinguished Supplier award from Kim Paris of GEARS magazine, and Dennis Madden, CEO of ATRA.Phillip Milks (r.), of Yuba College in Maryville, Calif., shares thoughts on new trends in automotive education with Mark Zingo, of Jasper Engines & Transmissions.  Bill Brayton of ATRA shows tips on how to breakdown the 94BTE 9-speed automatic transmission.Ford remanufactured engines and transmissions announced its new three-year/unlimited-mileage warranty on its products. Ruth Garvey, of HA Transmission and GearSpeed, in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., discusses new products with Eric Saxberg of Saxco Torque Converters in San Jose.Rob Greene (l.), marketing director for Kuhle Powertrain Parts, in El Monte, Calif. points out the features of a product to George Steinberg of Competition Transmissions, in Canyon Country, Calif.Chris Wilson, CEO of Slauson Transmission Parts in Bloomington, Calif., shows Benjamin Reed of Bryans Transmission Service in Valley, Ala., “The Slausonator” Honda case that makes wobbly bearings and shoddy sleeve jobs a thing of the past.

ATRA Powertrain Expo stresses need to attract and keep millenial workforce

Education and training for new trans technology and networking dominate event

Las Vegas—The Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association (ATRA) Powertrain Expo exceeded all expectations, said Dennis Madden, ATRA CEO, of the event Oct. 29 to Nov. 1, at the Rio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

 “Talk about synergy. With more than 1,200 attendees, two-dozen seminars, and nearly 90 exhibitors with 200 booths, the Expo was a great success,” Madden said.

The schedule of activities included the ATRA welcome reception Thursday evening; a luncheon Friday, sponsored by Raybestos, with featured speaker, actor, and host of the Travel Channel’s “Made In America,” John Ratzenberger, who talked about the importance of educating, motivating, and empowering Americans to expand skills and entrepreneurship; and a cocktail reception Friday night, sponsored by Transtar.

The technical seminars focused on specific topics such as mass air flow (MAF) service tips, testing transmission solenoids, solving U660 mysteries, diagnosing and repairing ZF transmissions, GM 6L80/90/45 and Ford 6R140 repair, and reprogramming techniques.

Among the highest attended seminars was a complete overview of the new 948TE 9-speed automatic transmission, conducted by ATRA’s Bill Brayton, covering breakdown, tips, and tools. “This unit is going to be very popular and we need to know what to look for when it gets to our shops,” Brayton said.

The GM/Ford transmission repair seminar, presented by Steve Garrett of Sonnax, also drew a packed house. “There are several common repair scenarios for each transmission as well as vehicle-related issues that can cause diagnosis and vehicle service issues,” Garrett said. 

The management seminars covered how to define and market to millennials, how to be an effective leader, selling value not transmissions, how to listen to customers, and increasing sales.

The popular “What’s Working” series, presented by Dennis Madden and Rodger Bland, ATRA board member and managing editor of GEARS magazine, focused on finding new people and drew a standing-room-only audience.

“We are looking for a few good men and women before they make their career choices,” Madden said. “This growing need must bring us together in an effort to attract, train, and grow our workforce for tomorrow,” Bland said.

The trade show portion of the Expo was open Friday and Saturday and filled the Rio Pavilion exhibit hall. Attendees were able to get an up-close look at the latest equipment and supplies from industry companies and talk directly to factory technical experts.

“I’d like to send out a huge thank you to everyone who helped make this one of our best expos ever,” Madden said. “Especially all of the volunteers that helped out. We couldn't have done it without you”

The 2016 ATRA Powertrain Expo will at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, Oct. 27 to 30. 

Parts & People

Parts & People is published monthly by Automotive Counseling and Publishing Company, Inc., a Colorado corporation, P.O. Box 18731 Denver, CO 80203, 303-765-4664. President-Lance Buchner. Founded by Lance Buchner and Dave Lucia.