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Ed Attanasio

Ed Attanasio is an automotive journalist based in San Francisco. Ed enjoys sports of all kinds and is a part time stand-up comedian.

 

He can be reached at era39@aol.com.

Tuesday, 10 August 2021 18:15

New Hall, New Beginning, New SEMA Show

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SEMA’s Vice President of Events Tom Gattuso is working day and night with his team to ensure the safety of this year’s show, Nov. 2-5 in Las Vegas. SEMA’s Vice President of Events Tom Gattuso is working day and night with his team to ensure the safety of this year’s show, Nov. 2-5 in Las Vegas.

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In 2020, SEMA had to reinvent itself, and the result was SEMA360, a completely virtual show that performed surprisingly well despite all the obstacles.

It was a noble experiment during highly uncertain times, but SEMA’s Vice President of Events Tom Gattuso and his team were able to save the event by quickly pivoting and literally saving the day.

 

In 2017, the show took place 30 days after the tragedy of Mandalay Bay, so Gattuso is not unfamiliar with last minute changes, and this year will undoubtedly be more of the same.

 

Autobody News spoke to Gattuso about the upcoming 2021 SEMA Show.

 

There’s a buzz about the new West Hall, a 1.4 million-square foot addition to the Las Vegas Convention Center. How will it affect collision repair-related exhibitors and attendees?

 

This year, things are less uncertain, but new considerations and special circumstances are still present that can affect the show. West Hall was an expansion project which had plans to start construction as early as 2017. So, we have been conducting scenario plans on how to manage our use of that facility for the last four years.

 

We got lucky because when the pandemic hit, the expansion was already underway and fully funded. So, we knew that we were going to use this new space this year, to expand our total campus and allow us the opportunity to make our floor a little more efficient to navigate for our attendees and really make a great presentation to the industry.

 

Is the collision repair section going to move for 2021?

 

Yes, the collision and tools companies are going to be located in the Upper South Hall this year. The addition of West Hall gave us the opportunity to...


...reconfigure some of our sections and realign some of them, which enabled us to combine business categories that we think will complement each other well, as well as allowing for growth in the future.

 

So, when we reassigned some of the show’s sections, the collision and tools categories were partnered together because of their affinity for each other, and moved them up to the Upper South Hall. It worked out very well, because we can use the adjacent meeting rooms located there for our collision-specific programming.

 

Everything you need---products, exhibitors, educational offerings---will be right there conveniently located in close proximity. This way, both our attendees and exhibitors can be more efficient and get more business done during the four days of SEMA.

 

The beauty of what we have set up is the fact that our tools and collision sections are right above the wheel and tire sections. Those four sections align very well and are directly adjacent to the Renaissance Hotel. Our hope is that people will be able to have a home base during the show, so that they can cover more and have a better experience.

 

Overall, the new West Hall has allowed us to spread out our campus and make navigation easier while allowing us to showcase some of the finest aspects of the collision repair industry.

 

Who will be there and who won’t?

 

One of the main changes this year will be the fact that international companies without a pathway in the U.S. will have less levels of participation as compared to the past. Conversely, we’re getting a ton of support domestically, so it depends on the company and what their travel plans are, but for the most part, we’re going to have a robust show that will be well-attended and well-received.

 

All of the big OEs that have attended in the past are back and most of...


...the major players in the collision repair industry are also returning.

 

In some areas, we are designating new categories to give them a start at the show. If we see that they’re gaining traction, we’ll incorporate them into an existing area or creating a new one.

 

It’s an exciting time, with things like ADAS and electric vehicles, so those are two areas that we are watching carefully, so that we can be there on the cutting edge with the right exhibitors and appropriate educational offerings.

 

Safety is always a factor, but even more so this year because of the pandemic. Please tell us how you’re approaching this huge part of the puzzle for SEMA 2021?

 

We take our role seriously because we know that SEMA impacts almost every aspect of the automotive industry worldwide. Many of the things that appear at a SEMA Show will affect the industry for the next three to five years, so we realize the importance of the show.

 

The local and federal municipalities last year hindered our plans for 2020, but this year we’re seeing a different environment and we’re more optimistic now than ever. We are working very closely with the people at the Convention Center, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), the State of Nevada and Clark County, just to make sure so that we are well aware of their plans. That way all of us, including exhibitors and attendees can make plans accordingly.

 

Right now, we are not required to check everyone’s temperature in Clark County before entering the event. But we want to make sure that we’re adhering to everything they will ask us to do now and in the future. The Clark County Commission is calling all of the shots, so we are observing other shows, and formulating our processes based on that.

 

As we get closer to the show date, we have a few plans holstered and ready to go. Once the Clark County Commission recommends their plan, we will start to reveal our safety and security plan. Every year, we learn more about how to...


...promote the safest environment we can and allow people to get in and out to the show in the most efficient and convenient way possible.

 

What are some other changes that we will see at SEMA 2021?

Last year, we looked at the idea of making all of the aisles one-way, but we determined that it would be burdensome and not practical on many levels. So, we decided to take some of our main aisles and broaden them, so that people can get more space and move around in a more suitable manner. So, you will find some wider aisles this year and more aisle space altogether.

 

We are also creating other areas where if people want to step out of the flow of traffic for a moment to regroup or find that next booth, they can do that.

 

For those who want to travel, we will now have access to an underground transit system that was invented by Elon Musk’s The Boring Company, with 60 cars running continuously. It will be able to move a lot of people to one of three stations, South Hall, West Hall and Central Hall.

 

Eventually, this system will be operated autonomously and take people to the Las Vegas Strip, Downtown Las Vegas and the airport as well. It will take a 15– to 20-minute walk and turn it into a two- to five-minute trip, so we are excited about it.

 

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