Exceeding Sky-High Expectations: NORTHEAST® 2023 Highlights

by Chasidy Rae Sisk & Alana Quartuccio Bonillo

Every year, the NORTHEAST® Automotive Services Show seems to get bigger and better, and anticipation ran high in 2023 with promises of an educational slate boasting two dozen of the industry’s top presenters and over 100 exhibitors showcasing their most recent innovations – not to mention the inaugural Bodywork Bowl Competition, the announcement of the third annual Young Technicians of the Year Awards and a heartwarming Recycled Rides presentation by the National Auto Body Council (NABC)…

And AASP/NJ’s flagship event, held March 17-19 at the Meadowlands Exposition Center (MEC) in Secaucus, delivered all that and more to the thousands of automotive and collision professionals who flooded the show floor and classrooms all weekend long.

“The only thing I can say about NORTHEAST 2023 is: WOW!” shared AASP/NJ President Jerry McNee. “From the moment we opened the doors on Friday until we closed them on Sunday, the flow of attendees never seemed to end as they flocked to the show floor to explore the latest and greatest in tools and equipment. But the classrooms were also packed with engaged repair professionals eager to learn and grow. We all walked away more knowledgeable than when we entered, and that’s exactly what NORTHEAST is about. Everyone had a great time this year, and I heard nothing but positive feedback.”

Exhibitors were particularly pleased with the quantity and quality of attendees interested in making purchases throughout the duration of the show.

Platinum Sponsor BASF enjoyed “really good traffic which allowed our team to interact with the local customers, spend time with them and showcase the Glasurit 100 line,” according to Tina Nelles. A highlight of BASF’s booth once again was Jonathan Goolsby (Goolsby Customs) whose celebrity presence attracted fans to meet one of the biggest names in the automotive world. Being on the NORTHEAST floor gives Goolsby a chance to network with companies and his fans, but he himself is a fan of the show! This was his fifth year meeting and greeting people at the BASF booth.

“I grew up in collision, and even though I’ve had the hotrod shop for 17 years, I still love staying on top of all the new technology because collision work and all these tools got me to where I am today,” Goolsby shared.

“It’s like a big family here. Everyone knows everybody, so it’s like a reunion,” he adds about his reasons for coming back again and again. “Networking is the biggest thing. Not only do I meet new companies, I meet people I could do a job for, so it works in both areas.”

“The show was great this year,” boasted Jen Poliski of AkzoNobel, Silver Show Sponsor. “The numbers are definitely up from what we have seen over the past two years. We even had a lot of people come in on Sunday. People have been coming in surges. Just when we thought it was slowing down, it would pick back up again.”

A regular face at NORTHEAST, Chuck Olsen of Education Sponsor and exhibitor AirPro Diagnostics, expressed pleasure to see things get back to normal. “Our company was absent last year without a booth, although I was here as a presenter. In total, this is my eleventh year with the show. We are very happy to be back, and the traffic has been great!”

Paul Hill of I-CAR echoed the sentiments regarding the amazing turnout NORTHEAST 2023 achieved. “Friday night into Saturday was the best foot traffic I’ve had in the four years I’ve been doing this show. We’ve had good quality turnout and leads, and I’m very excited about the turnout this year.”

“It’s great to see the younger crowd coming out,” added Lisa Ferguson, also of I-CAR. “We’ve experienced a lot of that this year with younger people in the 18-30 year old range coming over and asking a lot of questions.”

I-CAR also reported success with their involvement in the NORTHEAST educational slate with Hill indicating that both sessions went well and he expects to continue to participate in the educational component in the future.

Paul Kerr of Lift King was enthusiastic about the resurgence of people flocking to the show. “Coming out of the pandemic, this year has been spectacular. The attendance, the vendors, it’s been a great show! Even on Sunday, the attendance has been amazing! I’d say we are back to normal and can only expect it to get better from here.”

“It’s been overwhelming,” Spanesi’s Tim Morgan conveyed. “There’s just a lot more people than we had last year. The event is really growing back up. There’s a lot of good education here, not just in the classrooms but on the show floor. The response we got from existing customers and new customers has been awesome.”

A longtime supporter of the show, Morgan deemed the show a success once again. “The response we get from the industry for our products is just overwhelming.”

Metropolitan Car-O-Liner has been a staple to the NORTHEAST show for well over 40 years. In fact, Dave Demarest recalls his father being involved with the show back in its humble beginnings as a table top show long before it grew into the largest regional tradeshow on the East Coast.

Reflecting on the show and its importance, Demarest said the show once again provided an opportunity to allow folks to experience equipment and learn about what is new and changing with vehicles in an up-close setting. “One can type a search into Google and find out information, but it won’t replace face-to-face discussion and live demonstrations.”

Karl Kirschenman of long supporter and Lanyard Sponsor Innovative Solutions and Technology called it another great experience for the company. “We have
seen so many people coming in here every day. They started coming on Friday and just never stopped. A lot of great conversations and a lot of sales have been happening on the floor. It’s a great show for us.”

Solidus Equipment Systems definitely considered this year’s NORTHEAST a win. The auto body collision equipment company has been a regular exhibitor for the past several years. Rob Sykora considers the show to be the best opportunity outside of SEMA to showcase their products. The market area in particular is a good reason to head to the Meadowlands Exposition Center each March. The fact that it’s a congested area makes for a great opportunity to get in front of many auto body shop owners. “It’s a great market area to be in.”

George Tamiolakis of CCC had nothing but good things to say about the 2023 NORTHEAST experience. “We have had a lot of interest on all three days. It has been a great time.”

Cam Auto’s Ray Mubarak was also pleased with the turnout which was “way better than the past couple of years.” He was happy to report great foot traffic at his booth where he was able to showcase the company’s glue pulling system and overall was pleased with the people, the traffic and the overall setup at the show.

Carparts.com has been exhibiting at NORTHEAST since long before the show called the Meadowlands Exposition Center its home. Just the smile on Jess Schroder’s face alone confirmed how pleased the company was with this year’s show: “It’s really picked up post-COVID, and you can tell people are more comfortable.”

She offered an interesting perspective she has picked up on. “There used to be a whole lot of people who would come in from one company, and you’d wind up with a group of about 15 people deep, but there is really only one person you need to talk to. Now, that one person is still there, but you don’t have them surrounded by a large group. It’s much more effective that way.”

NORTHEAST 2023 also brought plenty of newcomers to the trade show floor.

First-time exhibitor My Auto Store came to NORTHEAST to connect with customers in this region. “It’s been very successful, and we definitely plan to head back to the show next year,” professed Corey Cronk. “We are an OEM quality parts recycler for automotive. We disassemble about 150 cars a day, and we sell the parts we take off those vehicles on our website. The rest of the car gets shredded and sold for the metal.

“We signed up to exhibit to get new business in this area,” he added. “We have a couple of dropoff locations in this area – one in Bayonne and one in New York City – so we were looking to connect with those customers, and it was very successful.”

“I am glad I got a chance to meet so many incredible folks at the show,” reported James Rome of Rome Tech, a first-time exhibitor. “I got to meet with a lot of independent operators, industry leaders and even got a chance to speak with Mike Anderson (Collision Advice) so it’s been an incredible experience.”

Rome Tech provides a shop management platform to help collision repair shops be more profitable. “Our goal is to help everyone reduce their cycle time and not only to get paid for what they are doing but to make sure they are making their net off their total sales. We give them the blueprint on how to run the very best shop and give them the technology and tools to help them be more effective operators. It’s been great meeting other exhibitors and so many new faces. I’m really glad I made the trip out. I met more people than I expected to.”

“It’s been a great show, and although we had a lot of expectations, they’ve all been met…or exceeded!” affirms Julio Boscarolo of first-time exhibitor Bosna Industrial Corporation. “We got a lot of leads, especially with distributors, jobbers and warehouses. We are very happy and looking to return next year.”

“You had to be there to really experience the excitement of NORTHEAST 2023,” commented Thomas Greco, AASP/NJ secretary and president of Thomas Greco Publishing, event managers for NORTHEAST. “Attendance was back to pre-COVID numbers, but class registration reached the highest numbers ever due to the quality of the presenters and topics that we brought to the stage. We had world-class educators paired with top-notch vendors showcasing the industry’s latest tools and equipment, sprinkled with exciting activities like AASP/NJ’s Young Tech awards, a NABC Recycled Rides presentation, our inaugural Bodywork Bowl and more. It all equated to a three-day event that felt like it lasted mere hours!”

AASP/NJ thanks these generous sponsors for supporting NORTHEAST 2023: BASF (Platinum Show Sponsor); GYS/Chisum (Lanyard Sponsors); AirPro Diagnostics (Education Sponsor); AkzoNobel (Silver Show Sponsor); Alliance Payment Solutions LLC and FinishMaster/SMART (General Show Sponsors).

“Make sure to mark your calendars for next year’s event now,” McNee encouraged. “We’re only planning to grow from here!”

AASP/NJ is already working diligently on the plans for NORTHEAST 2024, scheduled to take place March 15-17, 2024 at the Meadowlands Exposition Center. Visit aaspnjnortheast.com for updates on next year’s event as they become available.

Want more? Check out the April 2023 issue of New Jersey Automotive!