Outboarding Damages Our Industry and Our Association


Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) sent me an article that he wrote recently and was published on Twice.com. As I read it, I was once again reminded of just how damaging outboarding is to our trade show – AAPEX — and to all trade shows and the organizations that produce them.

I am very proud of what AAPEX has become over the past few years. AAPEX engages the auto care industry here in North America and many other countries. We bring all of the stakeholders together in one location to celebrate this great industry. I am sharing many of the comments Gary made in his article and taken the liberty to interject the Auto Care Association. I don’t think he will mind.

The Auto Care Association spends tens of millions of dollars each year supporting and promoting our industry. How does the Auto Care Association fund these initiatives? We produce an annual trade show called AAPEX that generates the needed revenue.

But there some who take advantage of the AAPEX venue. These people choose to go to Las Vegas each year during AAPEX and pretend to be a part of the event. They set up in outer hotels, construct displays, show off their products and provide transportation for important clients. They even pretend that they are participating with AAPEX.

Make no mistake – these people are not a part of AAPEX. They are engaging in a practice called “outboarding.”

Outboarding is harmful to us all. While this practice may seem innocuous to many, outboarders unjustly benefit from the energy and excitement derived by the tens of thousands of real participants in AAPEX. The real participants invest in AAPEX and the industry at large.

In addition to the actual damage, there is the issue of fundamental fairness. Why should outboarding companies get a free ride? They unjustly benefit from the show and all of the efforts of our industry.

In his article, Gary provided a list of reasons of why an outboarder should consider becoming a true exhibitor. Here are my top 10, five of which Gary mentioned in his article.

  1. Credibility – Your customers will immediately recognize your support and participation in our industry.
  2. Global reach – More than 11,000 buyers from outside of United States attend AAPEX. AAPEX offers translation services, networking opportunities and other benefits to connect you to potential partners around the world.
  3. Media coverage – AAPEX provides official exhibitors with a list of registered media. AAPEX offers numerous ways for official exhibitors to contact the consumer and trade media that attend AAPEX.
  4. AAPEXShow.com – 24/7, 365 days a year. As an official exhibitor, you have access to year-round promotion through the AAPEX website Official exhibitors can create their very own unique listing with video, product photos, press releases and brands.
  5. AAPEX App – The app gives our industry a directory of suppliers at their finger tips with the option to search by brand, product category or company name. More than 6,000 attendees downloaded the AAPEX app last year.
  6. AAPEX IP Policy – Official exhibitors at AAPEX can take advantage of the Intellectual Property Office at AAPEX. Where attorneys will take your complaints and review your options.
  7. AAPEX New Product Showcase – The number one reason buyers attend shows is to see what is new. Official exhibitors are the only ones that can participate in this showcase. New this year, the buyers will be able to vote on their favorite new products at the show. In addition the New Products Magazine will go out after AAPEX to all registered attendees.
  8. AAPEX Events Guide – More than 20,000 guides are distributed every year at AAPEX. Only official exhibitors are listed in the guide. For folks that prefer a printed directory this tool is a must-have when they leave the show.
  9. Access and networking – As an official exhibitor you will have access to attendee lists. The Auto Care Association offers a variety of resources to members, including the Auto Care Member Center. We offer networking opportunities at the Chairmen’s Reception, FNR, YANG Events and much more.
  10. Auto Care Association staff and the folks at WT Glasgowwill work hard to find a solution that works for your company and its products.

The revenue from AAPEX is reinvested into the auto care industry. Revenue from outboarding is not.



Celebrate National Car Care Month


While those of us in the auto care industry consider every month car care month, April is the official National Car Care Month according to the non-profit Car Care Council. By the way, I’m proud to affirm that our association funds and directs the council, whose purpose is to educate consumers about the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair.

Could there be a better time of the year to remind car owners to give their vehicles some TLC? I doubt it, especially this spring after the ravages of record low temperatures and snowfall in many regions of the country.

Folks are tired of cleaning snow and salt off their cars and dodging those bone-rattling potholes. As consumers transition from cold weather to warm weather, they adopt an overall spring cleaning mind-set, whether it’s with their house, lawn or vehicle. And they are getting excited about planning those spring and summer road trips and vacations.

So April offers a huge opportunity for parts stores and repair shops to market their products and services to consumers who are in the mood to fix up their vehicles and get back out on the road. More than 35 million motorists are planning to take a trip by car this Memorial Day weekend. The Car Care Council has tons of resources for stores and shops and distributors who need content for their website and social media outreach and the tools needed to get involved in and celebrate National Car Care Month. Go to www.carcare.org.

Last year, we learned from vehicles inspections conducted around the country during National Car Care Month community events that 79 percent needed service performed and/or at least one part replaced.

There is plenty of undone work out there. Leverage National Car Care Month to capture it.

Grab Your Passport: We’re Going Global

Never before has it been so abundantly clear that our association’s programs and initiatives reach far beyond the borders of the United States. As our industry grows globally, so does its trade association.

Increasing our international footprint is evident in our ACES and PIES technology standards, Right to Repair Memorandum of Understanding victory, international trade promotion program, market intelligence, new international trade show partnerships, expansion of the Global Marketplace at AAPEX, and even in our “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign.

We have hired new staff with expertise in international trade and commerce, and organized an international task force of key staff. AAIA has hosted a number of foreign aftermarket industry delegations who are eager to learn first-hand about our industry and the association. Staff has been invited to make presentations by international organizations in a number of countries including China, Mexico, Panama, Brazil, United Arab Emirates, Italy, Germany, Belgium and others.

AAIA is increasing its presence in the global community in order to identify and promote international business opportunities for our members. Among our ambitious efforts are:

  • Facilitating exchange with international automotive organizations;
  • Identifying and addressing international policy issues relevant to AAIA members;
  • Forging and maintaining relationships with U.S. and foreign consular and diplomatic corps;
  • Providing additional market research on foreign markets; and
  • Organizing trade and networking missions.

Grab your passport for AAIA’s journey into the global auto care industry.


And the Right to Repair MOU Buzz Goes On

It’s been a couple of weeks since we signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Right to Repair with the car companies and I’m pleasantly surprised that there is still a buzz about the news within the industry and the media. Considering we fought for more than 12 years to guarantee access to service and repair information for independent repair shops, it would be a shame if the victory had just faded away in a few days.
Here’s just a tiny sampling of several dozens of comments I’ve received from our members and others:

“Thanks for saving the industry.”

“I know it would have been easier to capitulate.”

“Making a dream a reality.”

“Keeping the gloves on during the heavyweight fight.”

“Doing what some said couldn’t be done.”

I’m also pleased with the media coverage of the MOU, both in the industry trade publications and mainstream consumer and business media. Reporting in news articles, blogs and editorials has been fairly balanced.
Of course there is always some group like AAA who is eager to play Monday morning quarterback that points out that the MOU “did not go far enough.” This is a very interesting statement from an organization that sat on the sidelines for more than a decade, until the eleventh hour when the Massachusetts referendum and legislation were nearly enacted and MOU negotiations were in the final stage.

Well, believe me, the MOU did go as far as it could have, and further than many expected. And, by the way, good luck making any headway on the telematics and connected car issue — an issue in which AAIA is deeply involved – without the Massachusetts Right to Repair victory and the MOU. We are hopeful that this time around total industry collaboration will prevail on this critical issue to ensure a fair, safe and secure solution for our industry and the motoring public.


Expanding Our International Footprint

Last week, we announced an exciting new opportunity for both the association and our member companies to increase their international footprint by showcasing products and services to the fast-growing Latin American market. AAIA has entered into a partnership with the Latin Expo Group to host a pavilion for our members at the Latin Auto Parts Expo in Panama City, Panama, July 9-11, 2014. 

The 2014 Expo will bring together buyers and exhibitors from throughout Latin America and beyond. Panama is an ideal trade show destination thanks to its political stability, a free trade agreement with the U.S. and strategic location as an entry point for entering Latin America.

The automotive aftermarket in Latin America is forecasted to grow more than 30 percent in the next few years and we want our association and our members to be in a position to benefit from this level of growth. In fact, we are looking ahead to 2015 when a new state-of-the-art convention center will be completed to coincide with the centennial anniversary of the opening of the Panama Canal.

We realize that July is just around the corner, so we are pushing hard to engage our members in the Expo by offering a 15 percent discount on booth pricing, education sessions, members-only meeting center and networking events.

For a full fact sheet about the Expo and AAIA pricing and member discounts, click here.

For more information, visit www.latinpartsexpo.com.


Family First

If you’ve been in the auto care industry long enough, you know that the backbone of our businesses is built on relationships. Most people within our industry refer to it as a big family, and it does feel like that.

But in all families, difficult times and unexpected critical situations can occur. It happens within our own auto care family, and more often than you may know. Fortunately, there is an organization that is dedicated to helping our own when bad things happen.

It’s the Aftermarket Foundation.

Founded in 1959, the Aftermarket Foundation assists individuals and families working in the automotive aftermarket that have fallen on hard times due to death, catastrophic illness or financial hardship. The foundation is able to provide assistance to families and individuals in need from donations.

If you know of someone in the auto care family that needs help, I urge you to contact the foundation at 772-286-5500. For more information on the foundation or to make a donation, click here or visit www.aftermarketfoundation.org.

Thank you.

Drumroll Please

Let me begin with a quote from Mary Kay Ash, American businesswoman and founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics: “There are two things people want more than sex and money… recognition and praise.”

While there is very little our association can do about the first two desires, we can impact the latter.

Each year we recognize exceptional people, products and companies in the auto care industry. They represent the youthful future leaders, accomplished industry veterans, outstanding products, contributors to training and education and innovators of technology.

I can’t match Mary Kay’s bold statement, but I’ve always strongly believed that we cannot bestow too many awards on deserving people and organizations. I encourage you to see the superstars we recognized in 2013 here.