Thursday, 30 November 2006 17:00

Industry issues, expos highlight NACE 2006

A "high energy affair with a lot of productive business being done," said one trade show exhibitor, summing up the general consensus among attendees at NACE 2006 in Las Vegas. 

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"With a great selection of multi-track sessions and key events including a Welcome Reception at Studio 54, an outstanding Opening General Session with Troy Aikman, OE Forum and Town Hall Break-fast, NACE 2006 was an incredible show," expressed Geralynn Kottschade, NACE 2006 chairman and vice-president of Jerry's Body Shop in Mankato, Minnesota. "Add the opportunity to walk and shop the Exposition, and there's no question - NACE is the resource we, as an industry, can rely on."

Attendees represented a mix of the collision industry: repairers, insurers, recyclers, OEMs and vendors. A strong international contingent lends credence to the increasing globalization of the collision industry.

"Our location this year is excellent with a lot of traffic flow and interest. The floor is busy and we are very happy with the way the show has gone for us," stated Joy Alcaro, Volvo Cars North America, regarding the world-class trade show.

The Exposition floor was enhanced with "Expo Extras," offering attendees a greater variety of hands-on demos, attractions and opportunities to see the newest products and learn the latest industry trends, tricks and techniques.

"We've been coming to NACE for over six years, and we had the best opening day since we've been doing the show. We've had a ton of interest in our product lines and our company," said Bruce Pohlig, president, Car Bench North America.

Hot rod heaven

A flashy addition this year was Auto & Cycle Alley. NACE delegates were invited to bring their personal show cars, trucks and motorcycles to be displayed at the Exposition and judged for five categories of awards. Autobody News technical writer Rich Evans, owner, Huntington Beach Bodyworks, received the

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And the winner of the first Auto & Cycle Alley Best Truck - Rich Evans, Huntington Beach Bodyworks and a writer for Autobody News.

Best Truck award ($2,000) for his 1988 Chevy Sidestep with a bold patriotic theme.

Other winners included: Celebrity Pick ($3,000): Glen Kanos - 1955 Chevrolet Belair w/Posts; People's Choice ($3,000): Russ Taylor - 1969 Ford Mustang; Best Car ($2,000): Troy Summers - 1939 Chevrolet Roadster; and Best Bike ($2,000): Rocky Felix - 2003 Radical Class Prostreet Bike. The cash awards were sponsored by WIZARDS Products & CCC Information Services.

Long-time attendee Maria Lawrence commented, "The addition of Auto & Cycle Alley is great. It gives people a chance to look up close at techniques and treatments used on these unique vehicles. It's a great addition to the show."

A full slate

The Auto Glass Technician Olympics - a high-energy competition to determine the best windshield repair professional - brought a new dimension to this already diverse event, including the industry's most knowledgeable experts demonstrating the up-to-date auto glass technologies in a special live demo area free of charge. In conjunction with this, NACE also offered free educational sessions pertinent to the auto glass industry.

The impressive I-CAR Technology Showcase offered up free training tools and equipment on the NACE floor for the first time. Featured were eight total workshops including "New Construction Materials and Designs" and "Advanced Aluminum Structural Repair."

In fact, NACE offered something for everyone boasting "MORE Of Everything You Need To Grow Your Business." If anything, it was almost too much - information overload. The choices were so many, it was difficult to choose. All the educational programs were timely and relevant to today's collision industry - about 100 educational programs and 500 exhibitors - give or take a few. That did not include the all day IBIS Symposium, the Early Bird Roundtables or the multitude of corporate meetings and privately-hosted dinners and hospitality suites.

Educational programs covered the gamut - with intriguing titles such as "Working Safely with High Voltage Parts," "Direct Repair Programs - In Need of a Change," "This Ain't Your Daddy's Employee Handbook: Policies & Procedures to Take Back Control of Your Shop," and 'The Cost of Comebacks."


Beginning with a farewell

Tribute was paid to Russ Verona - a long time friend and supporter of the industry and well-known as the "Godfather of Collision Repair"- with the creation of the Russ Verona Memorial IBIS Scholarship that will help assure his global achievements will not be forgotten. The scholarship, established by the Automotive Service Association (ASA) and the International Bodyshop Industry Symposium (IBIS), will cover the recipient's expenses to attend IBIS 2007 in Cannes, France upcoming in May. The first recipient of this honor went to the Director of ASA's Collision Division Operations Committee Chairman Darrell Amberson, who was present to receive the honor.

Kottschade then proceeded to discuss some key issues facing the automotive repair industry including new vehicle designs and changing steels and metals used in hybrid cars, DRP relationships, and the importance of NACE providing industry professionals the opportunity to meet with key suppliers, expand their knowledge and network with peers year after year.

Revving up the crowd

What better way to kick off this year's keynote luncheon than with former NFL quarterback and Hall of Fame member Troy Aikman of the Dallas Cowboys.

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During an interview-style presentation, Aikman shared experiences from his football career, owning a dealership and recent NASCAR involvement. His successes both on and off the field have allowed him to gain a solid understanding of what it takes to be a winner in any situation.

Aikman talked about his experiences growing up in a small town in Oklahoma and how it helped him to build the core values he lives by today. He spoke proudly about the development of interactive playrooms called "Aikman End Zones" which help terminally ill children enjoy interactive games and activities. He also spoke about his foundation which helped to create playrooms for team building and partnerships, to entrepreneurialism and charitable contributions.

During the Q&A period Aikman took audience questions which focused on his football career and his opinions regarding the NFL today. Six lucky audience members, selected by a note secretly placed under their seats, were brought close to the stage to catch autographed footballs tossed by Aikman.

At the close of the program, Darrell Amberson, Director of ASA's Collision Division Operations Committee, surprised Aikman with an ASA donation in the amount of $2,500 for the Troy Aikman Foundation.

Rewarding achievement and luck

"The Total Loss Dilemma, It Affects Us All," a panel discussion moderated by CNN correspondent Gene Randall, was presented to over 500 attendees at the Saturday morning Town Hall Breakfast, sponsored by BASF. The panel was comprised of representatives of body shops, information providers, insurance companies, and OEMs.

Randall brought a new dimension to this industry issue. He had clearly studied the topic, firing off questions to the panel. Personally, Randall was astonished at the complexity of the total loss dilemma, asking this question more than once, "When in the hell did a headlight become a $1,000 light assembly? What is wrong with calling a headlight a headlight?"

"We see the great value in understanding critical industry issues and welcome the opportunity to work with NACE sponsoring forums such as the Town Hall Breakfast," stated BASF marketing director Guy Bargnes.

A highlight of the Town Hall Meeting was the presentation of awards to the Auto & Cycle Alley winners and the ultimate NACE Grand Prize of $10,000. NACE Chairman Geralynn Kottschade, in her best Deal or No Deal moment, gave five finalists envelopes to open - with only one of them showing the money. Betty Osborn, co- owner of Quality Paint and Body, Inc., Greeley, Colorado, was the big winner.

"After attending NACE for years, winning this amount of cash was delightful, to say the least. We haven't yet decided what to do with the money, but we'll most likely invest in additional education for our employees - perhaps set back a good bit of it for NACE 2007 registration and travel expenses. NACE continues to expose our staff to a level of professionalism that we strive to attain each and every day," said Osborn, a 21-year veteran of the collision repair industry.

Outside the box

For the third year, the International Body Shop Industry Symposium (IBIS), an annual European event, held a one-day symposium, bringing IBIS highlights to America. The day-long event brought international speakers and vision to NACE, ending with "The IBIS Debate:Vehicle technology and repairability - an industry time bomb?"

As noted by Chris Mann, chairman of IBIS and publisher of BodyShop Magazine (UK), "The collision repair industry is no longer a collection of national, stand-alone business sectors. It is a truly global industry with a complex range of international drivers and dependencies."

In addition to UK repairers, the Canadian contingency had its own hospitality gathering with over 300 attendees.

Wrapping up

In the Saturday morning closing press conference, Galen Poss of Hanley-Wood, the company that produces NACE for ASA, told the crowd that "numbers are up from last year," but he didn't share exactly what the numbers were. "NACE is a reflection of the industry, " said Poss. And to say the least, the collision industry is in transition with no clear outcome in sight. Those in attendance at NACE 2006 certainly did reflect the spirit and dedication of the global collision repair community to the industry and to each other.

Recommendations for NACE 2007

To get the full benefit of this flurry of activity, you must be prepared. Don't just show up and think you will go to a few classes and walk the trade show. Do your homework - identify the sessions most relevant to your needs and sign up. Choose your programs and leave plenty of time to find your way.

The Mandalay Bay Hotel is beautiful, but it is very large and challenging to negotiate. The only thing I could find easily was the casino - go figure! Next year, I am borrowing my granddaughter's tennis shoes with roller blades and blinking lights and maybe I can find a GPS system that will work inside the hotel. It is an incredible amount of walking - but worth every mile.

Janet Chaney has been in many facets of the collision industry. She is serving the best interest of her clients through Cave Creek Business Development. She can be reached at janet_chaney@earthlink.net.


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