The Past Merged With the Future at NORTHEAST®: Inside the Return of AASP/NJ’s Flagship Event
by Chasidy Rae Sisk & Alana Quartuccio Bonillo
Photos by Jargapix
Crowded floors. Packed seminar rooms. Smiles and laughter among old friends and new.
It almost seemed as if the world hadn’t been contending with a global pandemic for the past two years at the NORTHEAST® Automotive Services Show, held March 18-20 at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, NJ. The three-day event boasted the high-quality education, exhibitors and experiences that have become synonymous with the country’s largest and fastest growing regional automotive trade show.
As AASP/NJ celebrated the 45th iteration of its flagship event, the comforts of the past – interactions with quality attendees, connections with old friends and long-time exhibitors – merged seamlessly with the present and the future as over 3,000 attendees perused aisles filled with some of the industry’s latest and greatest tools and equipment in between world-class educational sessions focused on today’s most relevant topics, designed to help automotive and collision professionals prepare their businesses for success.
“NORTHEAST 2022 was definitely a success,” according to AASP/NJ Executive Director Charles Bryant. “Everybody I talked to was pleasantly surprised and very happy about the amount of foot traffic on the show floor. Attendees seemed to appreciate the opportunity to explore new tools and equipment, and engagement in the educational classrooms exceeded our expectations. Overall, it was truly a terrific weekend.”
“NORTHEAST 2022 was fantastic!” AASP/NJ President Jerry McNee agreed. “The turnout at the show was higher than expected, and it was exciting to see the industry gather together again. The educational seminars offered great insights for automotive and collision professionals ready to take the next step to improving their businesses, and high-quality attendees interested in making purchases filled the trade show floor. Everybody was happy to be back at NORTHEAST, and I received a lot of favorable feedback from attendees and vendors.”
“My impression of the show was very positive; the aisles were busy, and it felt like a return to the days before COVID,” Simone Mazzon, sales manager at USI of North America, corroborated McNee’s belief.
“Attendance was higher than we expected; it was wonderfully high compared to recent times,” acknowledged Ted Dinnella Jr., president of Collision Equipment Consulting. “We’re always happy to support AASP/NJ.”
“AASP/NJ is one of the best associations in the country, and NORTHEAST 2022 went above and beyond my expectations,” expressed Dave Gruskos, president of long-time AASP/NJ supporter and NORTHEAST exhibitor Reliable Automotive Equipment.
“The high attendance and the industry’s enthusiasm were exceptional to witness, and seeing things headed in the right direction left a really big smile on my face.”
BASF Marketing Service Manager Tina Nelles also donned a grin as she recounted her experience at the show.
“Engaging with local customers is always a highlight at NORTHEAST, and I was happy to see attendees’ excitement at the show. It was a pleasure to watch Kurt Lawrance (KTL Restorations), Jonathan Goolsby (Goolsby Customs) and Mike Ring (Ringbrothers) interacting with the local market; however, my favorite part of this year’s show was showcasing our efforts with Operative Talent, an initiative that BASF, KTL Restorations and the Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF) started.
“Attracting new talent to the industry is imperative, but we need people talking about this industry in a positive light which is why funds raised through Operative Talent will help us create a website and PSA campaign to promote collision repair careers,” Nelles continued. “It feels really amazing to know that we’re taking action to improve the public’s perception of the industry, that we’re doing the right thing to make a positive impact on the industry’s future.”
“We hoped that NORTHEAST 2022 would be busy – and we weren’t disappointed,” said Nick Mattera, co-owner of Innovative Solutions & Technology. “The weekend flew by because we were talking to people during the whole show.”
Betag Innovation National Sales Manager Keith Egan shared a similar outlook:
“Traffic was good, and our sales results were positive. It was so busy that I barely had a chance to walk around the show and check out the other exhibitors’ booths.”
“I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of foot traffic and the large number of interested buyers,” contributed Frank Terlep, CEO of Auto Techcelerators.
“We had a great show, talking to serious buyers who really wanted to learn about the equipment and new technology we offer,” added Karl Kirschenman, director of corporate communication and technology for Spanesi Americas. “It was really nice to see the collision industry enjoying an opportunity to come back together with increased optimism.”
Dennis Barraza, regional sales manager for RGI Spraybooths, attended NORTHEAST for the first time this year at the booth of distributor JMC Equipment as his California-based company seeks to enter the market on this side of the country.
“Displaying a full-size booth on the trade show floor offered a tremendous opportunity for us to build brand recognition in the New Jersey market. The turnout was impressive, and attendees asked insightful questions about our merchandise.”
“Not only did we see good foot traffic on the floor, the industry professionals in attendance were incredibly engaged,” AkzoNobel Marketing Communications Manager Jen Poliski shared. “I’m very excited for NORTHEAST 2023 which I anticipate being even better and more populated as people gain confidence returning to normality.”
“We weren’t sure what to expect this year,” admitted Lyn Tetreau, president and CEO of Lift King Products. “But we wanted to support NORTHEAST because we love this show. We got great foot traffic on Friday with a few small ticket sales and a lot of inquiries. On Saturday, we were ready to rock and roll, and we started the day out with big deal after big deal. Before we were halfway through Saturday, we knew we had a successful show. We weren’t expecting much on Sunday, but we made a bunch of great deals on what’s historically been the slowest day of the show too! We met with great people who we believe we’re going to have a lot of future relationships with, and that’s what it’s all about: future connections. So, if anyone asks if Lift King will be here next year, the answer is absolutely!”
“Vendors were happy, exhibitions were beautiful, and attendees were very pleased with the educational seminars which were all well-planned and well-attended,” AASP/NJ Treasurer Tom Elder noted. “It was a fantastic weekend…NORTHEAST is back on track.”
“NORTHEAST 2022 was well-attended, and AASP/NJ is extremely pleased that our attendees, educators and exhibitors were all happy,” agreed AASP/NJ Past President Jeff McDowell. “We were concerned about whether we’d attract as many attendees as we’d like, but our event management team did an excellent job spreading the word and getting the local market excited. The association’s Board members showed up and had great conversations with attendees at the AASP/NJ booth. Everything went according to plan, and I feel it was a great success.”
“Our seminars were full and the floor was crowded, on par with pre-pandemic numbers, which was really amazing to see,” comments Thomas Greco, AASP/NJ secretary and president of NORTHEAST event manager Thomas Greco Publishing. “It really made the last two and a half years – spent postponing and waiting and wondering when the people would be ready to come back out – all worthwhile.
“NORTHEAST 2022 was a total group effort. We had so many vendors, presenters and even industry professionals who couldn’t get here but believe that working together helps everyone succeed, step up and promote and support the show. We have over 3,000 reasons to thank them all.”
AASP/NJ thanks these generous sponsors for supporting NORTHEAST 2022: Platinum Sponsor: BASF; Gold Sponsor: Ford Motor Co.; Silver Sponsors: Hertz, Indasa USA, PPG; Lanyard Sponsors: Chisum USA, GYS; Attendee Prize Sponsor: Spanesi Americas; and General Sponsor: Harbortouch.
“We’re gearing up to come back even bigger next year,” McNee promised. “Mark your calendars now!”
AASP/NJ is already working diligently on the plans for NORTHEAST 2023, scheduled to take place March 17-19, 2023 at the Meadowlands Exposition Center. Visit aaspnjnortheast.com for updates on next year’s event as they become available.