ATE draws capacity crowd to the West Coast’s premier training event
SeaTac, Wash.-The Automotive Training Expo (ATE) held in mid-March surpassed expectations, said Jeff Lovell, AMAM, of ASA-NW, the event producer. “We sold out well in advance and again had a record number of people attending our training sessions. We actually had to turn away a lot of folks because we were at capacity for classroom and banquet space.”
Held at the DoubleTree Hotel across from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, ATE drew more than 950 industry professionals for training and trade show activities. Attendees from throughout the Northwest, California, and other Western states, as well as British Columbia, were on hand for more than 60 management and technical training courses and two nights of trade show that featured automotive parts, tools and equipment, specialized products, business solutions, and more.
ATE staff said that more than three dozen shops throughout the region closed on Friday so all employees could attend all three days of training.
“With our tenured staff and exceptional group of volunteers, registration, trainer coordination, and all other aspects of ATE operated smoothly and efficiently again this year, even with a record number of attendees,” said Brenda Wolslegel, ASA-NW event coordinator.
More than 20 management classes were offered for shop owners, managers, and service advisors, most of those Automotive Management Institute (AMI)-approved courses for those seeking their Accredited Automotive Manager (AAM), Accredited Master Automotive Manager (AMAM), Accredited Automotive Office Manager (AAOM), or other designations.
Technical training classes ranged from EVAP Diagnostics to BMW Drivability Diagnostics, Cummins Common Rail Diesel to GM Chassis Systems. All but a handful of classes were at capacity.
“Our class offerings were excellent and instructed by North America’s top trainers, in both the management and technical segments,” Lovell said. “Our ATE education committee, comprised of Butch Jobst, Brian Smith, and others, did an extraordinary job of selecting timely classes that were in demand by our attendees.”
In addition to service and repair professionals, some 60 secondary and post-secondary automotive technology instructors attended ATE. On Friday afternoon after classes, the group met with ASA-NW officers and shop owners, as well as Walt Commans of ASE, to address how ASA shops could be more involved in advisory councils and the proposed ASA-NW sponsored apprenticeship program. Some instructors also expressed their challenges with education funding and programs within CTE, including core competencies, but most were upbeat about a presentation by a new CTE representative from the Office of the Superintendant of Public Instruction who addressed many of their issues.
At two breakfasts and one lunch, attendees were addressed by keynote speakers Dan Gilley, Richard Flint, and Gary Smith, all of whom also instructed classes. At the Saturday luncheon, four industry professionals presented a town hall meeting that addressed issues relating to vehicle sales impacts on the aftermarket, consumer perception of the independent repair industry, a review of automated driver assistance systems, scan tools changes in the market, shop specialization and addressing niche markets, and the necessity and value of management and technical training.
ATE staff said much of events success involves the training sponsors who step forward to fund several classes. “Our sponsors are a critical part of ATE, including those who help us fund all facets of the event,” Lovell said.
On Friday and Saturday night the four-hour trade show featured more 60 exhibitors and packed aisles. Complementary hors d’oeuvres were available and more than four dozen prizes, ranging from quality tool boxes to diagnostic equipment, were given away by trade show vendors.
“We sent all of our techs and our service advisor to ATE 2018 and the entire staff said it was the best one yet,” said Conrad “Butch” Jobst, AMAM, B&B Automotive in Aberdeen, Wash., and current chairman of the board of ASA-NW. He also touted the ASA-NW member volunteers that worked the event from early morning to late evening.