ETI ToolTech 2024 Brings Together Automakers, Tool & Equipment Providers

The annual event helps leaders from both sides understand each other's needs and work together on new solutions.

Bob Augustine, right, ETI’s new president, with Mike Spagnola, left, president and CEO of SEMA.

Equipment and tool suppliers, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and other vendors gathered in Newport Beach, CA, in April for the Equipment and Tool Institute’s (ETI) annual ToolTech. The two-day event included presentations on industry trends, networking and the opportunity to meet one-on-one with OEM and aftermarket tool and equipment providers.

“Our members and business partners continue to amaze me!” said Brian Plott, executive director of ETI. “This is their show, their event, and they continue to embrace the concept and engage more deeply with every event. ToolTech 2024 was no exception.”

PresidentsDave Rich, center, of INNOVA Electronics and ETI’s immediate past president, presented Bob Augustine, left, with a gavel after he was named ETI president for 2024-25. Brian Plott, right, is ETI’s executive director.

Plott said the OEM roundtable, shop owners’ panel and company spotlight were some of the highlights of the show.

“ETI is committed to fostering collaboration between vehicle manufacturers and the providers of tools, equipment and service information,” he said. “Seeing the willingness of industry leaders to talk and understand each other’s needs, collaborate on new technologies, and really work together collectively on the direction of the industry makes it an exciting time for the industry.”

ETI dates back to World War II, when automotive equipment was needed to move supplies, troops and weapons. The War Production Board created an advisory council of about 20 equipment and tool manufacturers. They realized the benefits of working together on industry problems. In 1947, approximately 50 equipment and tool manufacturers met in Atlantic City, NJ, to discuss forming a group that would promote their interests. This led to the formation of ETI.

Today, the organization consists of automotive tool and equipment manufacturers and technical information providers. Their mission is to advance the vehicle service industry by providing technical data and open dialogue between the manufacturers of transportation products, government regulators, and the providers of tools, equipment and service information.

Over the past half-century, Plott said ETI has become the forum for resolving common problems concerning equipment and tools for the automotive industry.

crowdETI’s ToolTech 2024 event included presentations, networking and the opportunity to meet one-on-one with OEMs and aftermarket tool and equipment providers.

Members are committed to five goals. These include advancing the productivity, profitability and growth of the automotive service industry; providing technical training information and marketing guidance; stimulating feedback from the users to manufacturers; providing members an ongoing stream of current information and advanced, specialized technological information; and offering industry leadership by cooperating with legislators and regulatory agencies in pursuit of variable environmental, safety and efficiency programs.

During the event, a significant milestone was announced: ETI is entering the European market and creating ETI EU, which will be headed by Winston Lee. Lee, managing director EU, is a long-time ETI member and strong participant.

"This marks a pivotal moment to reshare the automotive repair industry on both sides of the Atlantic,” noted Plott. “We live in a global world. Many of our members are global companies, as are our OEM partners. This is a step in the direction of contributing to the growth of our membership and helping them clear the path for the industry for the long term.”

ETI also announced its 2024-25 board members and named Bob Augustine, vice president of sales and marketing for AAA Auto Glass & Electronics, president of the organization.

Augustine became involved with ETI in 2006.

“It appeared, even then, that a technological revolution was coming to the transportation repair industry,” he said. “We had distinct vertical groups for scan tool manufacturers, collision tools and service information providers.”

Fast forward to 2024 and Augustine said the pace of technology is accelerating.

“We no longer have distinct vertical segments anymore because anyone who performs vehicle repair has to be service-ready on all aspects of the platform as soon as the vehicles are built,” he explained. “OEM-approved tooling, training and service information are no longer a nice-to-have; they are requirements to properly complete a safe and complete repair for the motorist."

ToolTech Highlights

On day one of the conference, keynote speaker Mike Spagnola, president and CEO of the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), provided an overview of SEMA. This included information about the SEMA Garage locations in Diamond Bar, CA, and Plymouth, MI. Spagnola said SEMA is currently in discussions with OEMs about advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) and the automotive aftermarket and stressed the importance of working together to address industry issues.

Pete Bradley, head of international technical training at Hella-Gutmann in Germany, provided an international perspective on the automotive aftermarket industry. As chairman of the European Garage Equipment Association (EGEA) Working Group 2 Diagnostics and ADAS, Bradley shared insight on some of the challenges taking place regarding ADAS cybersecurity and data ownership. Founded in 1980, EGEA ensures its members can provide the best and safest equipment and services to the automotive aftermarket.

Group photoETI directors and staff were recognized during the event.

Cybersecurity issues were shared by Kevin Tierney, vice president of global cybersecurity for GM. Tierney discussed how the auto manufacturer is addressing cybersecurity issues and the importance of taking protective measures.

Augustine moderated an OEM panel discussion with seven car manufacturers who shared their insight. They included David Stovall from Toyota; Ryan Hays from Ford, Terence Vance from Honda; Danny Uhls from Nissan; Bob Stewart from General Motors; Travis Taylor from Volkswagen/Audi; and Mike Porter from Hyundai.

Joshua Linton, the EV platform manager at Midtronics, talked about accurately testing and diagnosing EV 12-volt batteries. He explained that in a typical electric vehicle, a rectangular pack of individual lithium-ion batteries is located under the floor and powers the electric motor. In addition, a single 12-volt auxiliary battery powers the systems outside of propulsion, including the safety systems, and is the No. 1 reason for roadside events. To preventatively test the 12-volt batteries, Linton recommends using diagnostics that assess the battery’s ability to support SafetyPower Capacity.

On day two of the event, keynote speaker Dr. Shawn DuBravac shared insight about some of the forces defining the future of the auto sector. DuBravac said leaders must work on competing time horizons simultaneously. Some of the trends he shared include AI igniting transformative innovation, the shift from digitization to “datafication,” the “screenification” of the vehicle, and the changing architecture of the vehicle.

Richard Ferguson, Toyota’s new markets manager, business development, fuel cells, shared information about fuel cell solutions. He discussed the Toyota Mirai, a fuel-cell electric vehicle (FCEV) that uses hydrogen gas rather than liquid gasoline. An FCEV generates electricity onboard from hydrogen, with water as the only emission. A fuel cell system combines stored hydrogen with oxygen from the air, and a chemical reaction that produces electric current, and water, which drops out of a hidden vent pipe beneath the car. Electricity generated by the Mirai’s fuel cell and the regenerative braking system is stored in a lithium-ion battery.

Augustine then led a shop owners’ panel discussion focused on industry issues. Panelists included Lucas Underwood from L&N Auto Repair and Changing the Industry Podcast; Gene Morill from Certified Automotive Specialists; Greg Buckley from Buckley's Auto Care; and Lee Lizarraga from ABC Auto Care.

The last presentation was given by Mark Seng, Predii’s vice president of sales and business development, who discussed AI implications in the automotive service aftermarket. He shared research from McKinsey & Company about the estimated growth of AI in the automotive industry and explained the difference between machine learning and generative AI. He also provided cases for generative AI in the automotive industry.

For more information about ETI, visit

Stacey Phillips Ronak

Stacey Phillips Ronak is an award-winning writer for the automotive industry and a regular columnist for Autobody News based in Southern California.

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