by Chasidy Rae Sisk
ADAS. EVs. AI. Augmented reality. Autonomous vehicles. And the list goes on and on as the technical tsunami continues crashing over the automotive world with wave after wave making it increasingly difficult for shops to stay afloat. The future is now, but are you prepared for what’s coming…or even what’s already here?! Say goodbye to the industry of yesterday and embrace tomorrow’s technology during the most anticipated weekend in the automotive and collision world.
From a forward-focused educational agenda to a trade show floor packed with 100-plus vendors showcasing the industry’s latest and greatest equipment, the NORTHEAST® 2024 Automotive Services Show – scheduled for March 15-17 at the Meadowlands Exposition Center (MEC) in Secaucus, NJ – promises to deliver everything automotive and collision repair professionals need to propel their careers and businesses into the future…plus a few fun extras!
“Get ready for the ultimate auto experience at NORTHEAST 2024!” AASP/NJ President Ken Miller promises as he provides an overview of the highlights that attendees can expect this year. “We are kicking the weekend off with an exclusive early training event on Thursday, March 14, in addition to starting Friday’s training early with two special Collision Advice workshops, so be sure to join us for an exciting weekend filled with expanded educational events featuring industry legends like Dave Luehr, Mike Anderson, the Collision Advice team, John Shoemaker and more! With exciting activities, giveaways, promotions, top-notch education, all of the latest and greatest equipment on display and a special celebrity appearance by Dave Kindig from Kindig-It Design, we’re expecting record attendance…Don’t miss out on the automotive event of the year!”
Repair professionals intent on remaining on the cutting edge will want to sign up early to take advantage of the plethora of vital training opportunities on this year’s educational slate…in fact, attendees will want to plan to arrive at the Meadowlands a day early since AASP/NJ is enhancing its educational offerings by adding a full-day workshop on Thursday with David Luehr (Elite Body Shop Solutions). “I am so honored to be asked back to NORTHEAST,” Luehr says. “I am really excited to bring our Elite brand of education to shops that can really benefit from it.”
During “Know Your Numbers,” Luehr will teach shop owners, managers and department leaders which metrics matter most and how to take daily action toward achieving higher profits. Over the course of the day, topics will touch on budgeting, forecasting, understanding a financial statement and so much more, all included in a workbook that will help participants build an actionable plan that can be implemented when they return to the shop.
“As a former collision business owner, I found myself unclear on how to make money while providing the best possible repairs and without working super long hours,” Luehr explains his motives for developing the course. “Later on, I discovered a handful of metrics and habits that – when focused on – could massively drive profitability. Shop owners typically work way too hard for the financial returns they get. In ‘Know Your Numbers,’ attendees will learn how to systematically create a business model and a simple set of daily practices that practically ensure much higher profitability.”
Registration for Luehr’s workshop is available at aaspnjnortheast.com/events.
Another educational extravaganza making this year’s show even more exciting is the news that classrooms will open early Friday morning for the first ever Collision Advice NORTHEAST Workshops featuring industry icon Mike Anderson and his team!
Anderson’s “100 Percent Disassembly” workshop provides an eye-opening approach to creating the right shop culture to support 100 percent disassembly. “One of the most common things I see while traveling over 300 days a year and visiting so many shops is that most people believe they’re doing 100 percent disassembly, but they’re actually doing more like 80 or 90 percent disassembly,” Anderson points out, insisting, “100 percent disassembly is the foundation for so much. It’s necessary and required to write an accurate repair plan; it’s critical for capturing all the items that can be removed and installed, improving the quality of your repair plan and minimizing supplements. It’s also critical to the parts mirror-matching process. If we don’t remove everything, it’s much more difficult for the parts person to mirror-match the parts.
“When I had my shops, a big mistake I made would be to tell people what to remove instead of telling them WHY it needs to be removed,” he adds. “If we can help our team understand WHY something needs to be removed during 100 percent disassembly, it’s more sustainable, so I’m very excited to share some insights on this subject with NORTHEAST attendees.”
For those seeking tips on new ways to deliver an extraordinary customer experience, Collision Advice’s Sheryl Driggers “Game Changer CSR” seminar offers key lessons on how to best communicate with customers based on their personality, allowing customer service representatives to positively transform their relationships with everyone who enters the shop.
“In today’s market, we need to be educating our guests when they walk through the door,” according to Driggers. “They’re coming to us during a traumatic time; they just had an accident, so their car – typically their second largest investment – is damaged, and they typically have a lot of negative emotions associated with what’s happening. As collision repair professionals, it’s important to meet them where they are, so we can effectively help them navigate the claims process and supportively guide them through the repair process.”
Luehr, Anderson and the Collision Advice team will return throughout the course of the weekend to lead additional workshops and participate in the groundbreaking panel discussions that have become synonymous with a weekend at NORTHEAST. But they won’t be alone on this year’s educational slate, sponsored by AirPro Diagnostics and designed to help repairers propel their knowledge and skills to the next level. Industry favorites like John Shoemaker (BASF), attorney Joshua Bauchner, Dave Gruskos (Reliable Automotive Equipment), Miller and AASP/MA Executive Director Lucky Papageorg and representatives from I-CAR and AirPro Diagnostics are scheduled to make an appearance as well!
“Being Elite in a Consolidated Market” addresses shops’ ability to differentiate themselves through OEM certification. According to Shoemaker, “As shops become more specialized through OEM certifications, they are catching criticism from third-party payers who have a lack of understanding for the value of proper repairs. Independent collision centers maintaining OEM certifications should not operate under the same restrictions as a high-volume direct repair facility. There are higher costs involved, more so with luxury models but even with mass market vehicles as well. This presentation’s intent is to illustrate to independent vehicle repairers how to express their differences to reduce push back and gain reimbursement for the OEM required operations. Being elite should not be a punishment but be recognized as a mark of excellence.”
Attendees can expect to walk away with a better “understanding of how to communicate to a customer why having their vehicle repaired at a certified repair facility is a benefit,” Shoemaker notes. “I will also explain the different skill sets used in a repair and why labor rates are higher than a high-volume facility to a third-party payer. Lastly, from the information provided, they will be able to acknowledge their position in their market to maximize visibility and prominence as an elite repair facility.”
This year’s educational slate promises something for everyone, and AASP/NJ Collision Chairman Jerry McNee is looking forward to “a continuance of last year’s education and conferences. The meetings and information acquired are all lessons learned that can be put to work within your shops today. You’re never too old – or too new – to learn!”
And it’s completely affordable. Attendees can purchase single classes for $30 each or get a huge discount on a full Access NORTHEAST Educational Pass for just $249!
The 2024 educational slate ensures that NORTHEAST will continue to be lauded as THE premiere automotive trade show on the east coast, but attendees won’t want to miss perusing the trade show floor for the industry’s latest and greatest tools and equipment…and you never know who you might see or what you might win!
For starters, fans of MotorTrend TV’s Bitchin’ Rides won’t want to miss the chance to meet Dave Kindig at Gold Sponsor AkzoNobel’s booth on Friday and Saturday!
This is my first time attending NORTHEAST, so I am excited to see what the show has to offer,” Kindig says. “I am also excited to be joining AkzoNobel this year, celebrating our continued partnership together, as I am now the brand ambassador for their flagship premium brand Sikkens.”
“AkzoNobel is excited to be bringing Dave Kindig to the NORTHEAST show, star of MotorTrend TV show Bitchin’ Rides and brand ambassador for our Sikkens and Modern Classikk brands, who will be doing autograph signings in our booth Friday and Saturday,” Jen Poliski (AkzoNobel) adds. She also looks forward to “seeing our partners and customers at the show and getting the opportunity to meet others through networking at NORTHEAST as a Gold Sponsor. We’ll also be performing Carbeat demonstrations to show customers how to reduce cycle time, improve processes and open communication lines in shop operations.”
Many of the 100-plus exhibitors showcasing the field’s most relevant and effective tools and equipment will also be familiar faces, though their offerings are always the most up-to-date wares on the market, but NORTHEAST 2024 will also feature a number of new companies, including Consolidation Coach, Crystal Clean, GMG EnviroSafe, Original One Parts/Headlights Depot and Raxwell USA, among others.
“As a shop owner, I had been an attendee for years and wanted to participate in this show because it is always a great event,” Laura Gay (Consolidation Coach) explains her decision to exhibit at NORTHEAST 2024. “I am super excited for the show, especially for the chance to see old friends and connect with new ones. The energy at NORTHEAST is always super positive, and when I attended in the past, I always felt extra pumped up and motivated when I returned from the show.”
Consolidation Coach invites attendees to play a game of Wheel of Fortune at their booth. “Pick a color on our Wheel of Fortune, spin, and if you land on the color you picked, you win a $10 Chick Fil A gift card!” Gay shares. “Everyone loves Chick Fil A, so come to our booth and check us out.”
Paul Hill of Original One Parts/Headlights Depot is a familiar face around the NORTHEAST show floor, though he’ll be representing a different company this time around. His past interactions at the Meadowlands led him to exhibit this year with his new company. “Having experienced NORTHEAST previously as both an attendee and exhibitor, I knew that this would be a great place to showcase my products,” he says, explaining that he is most excited about “being face to face with great collision centers from the region and seeing some longtime industry friends.”
Hill also gave a preview of what attendees can expect to find at his booth: “Headlights.com will have prize drawings for new and existing customers of Original One Parts or Headlights Depot. Stop by the booth for entry details. Top prize will be a TV.”
“With NORTHEAST’s reputation for being ‘THE’ collision and mechanical repair industry’s show to be at, we are super excited to network with our current business partners and meet new ones too!” notes Scott Krinsky of Crystal Clean,a national leader in the environmental services market, with over 100 branches and industrial services facilities across the nation and multiple waste recovery centers, including an oil re-refinery, regional antifreeze recovery centers, and several wastewater treatment facilities.
“We’re looking forward to introducing, displaying and demonstrating our latest environmental products and solutions to help contribute to our customers’ success!” he adds. “Equally we’re excited to network with our current business partners and meet new ones too! Please stop by our booth and meet me and the team; we each look forward to introducing ourselves, products and services, plus you’ll want to take advantage of our exclusive trade show specials and enter our raffle for a chance to win amazing giveaways.”
And NORTHEAST offers even more than superior education and exhibitions! The experience that attendees have come to expect can be seen throughout the weekend with multiple opportunities to indulge in the face-to-face networking that is only possible at an event of this size and caliber.
For AASP/NJ Executive Director Charles Bryant, it’s all about the networking. “I love attending NORTHEAST because it is the biggest regional event that brings industry members together, and the comradery between attendees is unlike what I’ve experienced at any other event.”
The association will recognize the industry’s future with the Fourth Annual Young Technician Award presentation where AASP/NJ will recognize a young repairer for their hard work and dedication to the craft. And the Recycled Rides presentation by the National Auto Body Council (NABC) is sure to warm even the coldest hearts.
For those who prefer competition over comradery, NORTHEAST has something for you too! Taking place all weekend long, the Second Annual Bodywork Bowl Collision Repair Skills Competition gives body technicians, estimators and painters a chance to prove they’re the best of the best as they show off their skills and compete to win amazing prizes.
Last year’s inaugural Bodywork Bowl was a raging success that drew more than 60 auto body professionals to the NORTHEAST show floor to test their skills in estimating, welding and painting. Winning offered much more than merely bragging rights with top place winners taking home cash and/or prizes in each category. This year, even more is on deck, and each first place winner will take home $500 in cash plus other prizes!
The Bodywork Bowl will once again be coordinated by Jill Tuggle, executive director of the Auto Body Association of Texas (ABAT), whose Texas Auto Body Trade Show Big Shots Competition was the inspiration for NORTHEAST’s contest.
“I am so excited that we are bringing the Bodywork Bowl back to the NORTHEAST show,” Tuggle exclaims. “Last year, contestants brought their ‘A game’ and took home some amazing prizes! This year, the competition will be thrilling for both competitors and spectators who will have 360 degree views of the welding, estimating and virtual painting arenas. I’m so honored to be a part of such a cool event at the biggest regional trade show in the country!”
Once again, CCC will be sponsoring the estimating equipment, while the virtual spray booths and guns, sponsored by AkzoNobel, will allow auto body pros to test their talents by spraying panels and demonstrating blending techniques.
“All automotive and collision repair professionals should make every reasonable effort to attend NORTHEAST 2024,” Bryant urges. “It is the number one place where shop owners can find everything they could possibly be looking for in the automotive industry, including meeting so many people who have the answers to questions that they might not be able to find anywhere else!”
There will also be plenty of chances for attendees to win a number of prizes. Simply pre-registering for NORTHEAST 2024 provides a chance for attendees to win $500 in NORTHEAST Dollars to spend on the show floor (10 winners will be chosen at random over the course of the weekend), and those who obtain a VIP ticket from their preferred vendor prior to the show can participate in a drawing to win a $500 gift card!
AASP/NJ’s flagship event typically draws over 6,000 industry professionals every March as shop owners, technicians, painters, estimators, suppliers and others flock to the 65,000 square foot show floor to check out the latest tools, products, equipment and services from over 150 exhibitors. Attendance at the 47th iteration of NORTHEAST is expected to set new records as repairers seek to learn more about the future technology pervading their businesses from the industry’s most sought-after speakers and embrace the chance to shop for the tools and equipment needed to repair the complex technology on the modern vehicles being pulled into their stalls.
“This is the best show in the country, and it’s right in our own backyard,” McNee stresses. “With industry leaders presenting and the latest tooling, information and training available at your doorstep, why wouldn’t you spend four days collecting invaluable information and checking out the newest equipment with a show special? You can’t afford NOT to attend NORTHEAST 2024!”
Stay tuned to New Jersey Automotive for additional updates on NORTHEAST 2024, including celebrity appearances and fabulous prizes. Registration for the tradeshow and the educational courses are now open at aaspnjnortheast.com.
*All scheduled and anticipated seminars and events are subject to change.
Want more? Check out the February 2024 issue of New Jersey Automotive!