Reinventing Fun the ABAT Way at the 2024 Texas Auto Body Trade Show

by Chasidy Rae Sisk

When it comes to having a great time while still tending to business, ABAT really knows how to get ‘er done! In addition to an educational slate featuring the industry’s top trainers and dozens of exhibitors showcasing the latest and greatest tools, equipment and services, the 2024 Texas Auto Body Trade Show promises loads of exciting experiences unlike anything you’ll find elsewhere.

Taking place July 12-13 at the Irving Convention Center, the original auto body trade show in Texas – created FOR auto body shops BY auto body shops – boasts plenty of reasons for shops to mark their calendars, book a hotel room and get ready for an amazing time. 

“Education, exhibition and Texas-sized fun…we’re excited to keep making the Texas Auto Body Trade Show bigger and better each year,” ABAT Executive Director Jill Tuggle shares. “I believe what has made this show such a success in less than a decade is our out-of-the-box thinking and attention to details, so we’re bringing back the classic crowd favorites and debuting some fresh new thrills on the show floor and after the show closes. Those after-hours conversations can be the most insightful, so we’ve made sure there are plenty of opportunities for networking and connecting with one another.”

“The camaraderie that exists among all of us is what truly sets the Texas Auto Body Trade Show apart from any other event of its kind,” agrees ABAT President Burl Richards. “Our attendees are passionate and engaged; we’re all in this together, and that positivity is infectious. No one who has attended the show has ever left without learning something new and having a great time!”

Classes begin early (flip to page 18 for the full training agenda), but the fun starts as soon as the trade show floor opens on Friday at 1pm. After checking in to pick up your name tag, attendees will want to grab a Booth Bingo card to fill in with the names of exhibitors visited for a chance to win $500 cash! 

If you’re the competitive type, you’ll want to head over to the center of the Trade Show floor right away to register for the Fourth Annual BIG SHOTS Competition and show off your paint, body, glue pull or estimating skills for a chance to win $1,000 cash and other great prizes. The best of the best will walk away with the coveted title of BIG SHOT painter, tech, PDF tech or estimator, and winners will be featured on the cover of an upcoming edition of Texas Automotive.

BIG SHOTS has become a highlight of the Texas Auto Body Trade Show since it debuted in 2021, and it grows each year. 

“The BIG SHOTS Competition is near and dear to my heart,” Richards says. “I can’t wait to see everyone try their hand at proving they’re the ‘best in the business!’ Our technicians, painters, estimators and other shop personnel are the bloodline of collision repair…without them, it’s impossible to grow and strengthen this industry, so we want to recognize and celebrate them for the hard work they do every day.”

“We’ll have both live and virtual contests taking place on the show floor as industry professionals compete for big prizes and – more importantly – bragging rights,” Tuggle teases. “Whether you’re in paint, body, PDR or estimating, there’s a contest waiting for you, and you absolutely must plan to compete in our BIG SHOTS Competition. Some folks are just doing it for fun, while others are quite fierce because there’s a lot on the line! ABAT showers the BIG SHOTS winners in gifts, money and magazine coverage, so don’t miss the opportunity to sign up early this year!”

“No matter what role you fill in this industry, you’ve probably got a lot of pride in what you do, so this is your chance to prove you’re really as good as you think you are,” Richards challenges attendees to sign up for the competition. “You can’t be one of the best if you don’t believe in yourself. This is a true competition between skilled professionals, so don’t think that just anyone can win! You have to have the skills to get there.”

ABAT is grateful to this year’s BIG SHOTS sponsors, which include 3M, AkzoNobel, Anson PDR, Car-O-Liner Southwest, CCC Intelligent Solutions, KECO Body Repair Products, Sherwin-Williams and Solidus Equipment.

Before the floor closes at 8pm on Friday, make sure to pop by ABAT’s booth to score a free ticket to the After Party at Bar Louie. It shouldn’t be too difficult to convince Tuggle to extend an invite to this exclusive by-invitation-only happening which provides a great opportunity to network with industry peers over appetizers and drinks – there will even be a photo booth to document those great memories that you may not remember all that well in the morning. 

“Even when the show floor closes for the evening, it’s not really over,” Richards quips. “The party is just getting started!”

“ABAT definitely knows how to throw a party, and our opening night After Party at Bar Louie is proof of that every year,” Tuggle notes. “The After Party is my personal baby and also my favorite part of the show. Not just because it’s a big party with food, drinks, a photo booth, games and fun that runs late into the evening (though that certainly works to the event’s benefit). It’s actually my favorite because it offers a phenomenal way to thank and celebrate our exhibitors who have given so much to be at the show.

“The party always offers more fun than you’d expect at an industry event, and you can bet we’ll have some extra surprises in store,” she adds, cautioning, “What happens at the photo booth does NOT stay at the photo booth; I get copies of ALL the pictures!”

A new addition to this year’s show will make its debut during the After Party – attendees will have a chance to score party items and free drink tickets from a claw machine. When the show floor reopens on Saturday at 10am, the claw machine will be set up at ABAT’s booth and will include all kinds of association swag and prizes. 

An even more exciting inclusion at this year’s Trade Show will be the NASCAR simulator. Each attendee will have a chance to compete virtually for the fastest lap with one lucky winner walking away with two free tickets to any NASCAR race in the country! Need a second try? Stop by a sponsor booth for an extra chance to win. Sponsors for the NASCAR stimulator include NASCAR, All Clear Diagnostics and Calibration, Auto Claim Specialists, Car-O-Liner Southwest, English Color & Supply Inc. and Paint Works.

When you need a break from the exhibitors, be sure to visit the back parking lot and check out the English Color & Supply Car Show, a crowd favorite year after year. “English Color has sponsored an AMAZING car show each year,” Tuggle points out. “Whether you prefer a rat rod, custom build, muscle car or just a nicely restored classic, you will find it all at this Show.”

“This Car Show always features some of the hottest rides in the Dallas-Fort Worth area,” Richards offers. “Maybe you’ll even want to enter your own pet project for a chance to win a prize.”

The Texas Auto Body Trade Show features something for everyone, and that includes a little extra for the women of collision as ABAT brings back its Third Annual Ladies’ Event, taking place at Salt, a boutique tequila bar located at host hotel, the Texican Court. “ABAT loves to give credit where credit is due, and often there’s a woman involved in the business who doesn’t get enough accolades for all she does with grace and strength,” according to Tuggle. “The women in this business are a special breed. We are unique because we chose to be in this business of collision repair. I think there is a lot of power and synergy in what we bring to this industry, and as a female-run association, we want to bring the females in our business together to get to know each other.”

If all that wasn’t enough, the Texas Auto Body Trade Show takes place at the Irving Convention Center, which is located in the heart of the Toyota Music Factory, an entertainment district with tons of options for food, drinks and fun things to do! Enjoy dinner or a cocktail with some of the industry’s biggest names. “There’s plenty of fun to be had in the vicinity,” Richards states. “Between the Toyota Music Factory, movie theater, various dining (and drinking) options and even axe-throwing, the possibilities are endless – both within and outside of the show.”

Exhibitors plan plenty of extra fun on the show floor too. From corn hole to spinning wheels and poker hands, you’ll have a chance to partake of it all, and you never know who might make an appearance; past celebrity guests have included Bitchin’ Rides’ Dave Kindig and Horny Mike of Counting Cars to name just a few!

And since the show is still a month away, don’t be surprised if ABAT has a few more surprises up their sleeves!

“The Texas Auto Body Trade Show sets itself apart by adding extra elements that make it so much more than a trade show. We have so much planned to benefit your business at the 2024 Texas Auto Body Trade Show,” Tuggle insists. “We pack all the most exciting parts of being in the automotive industry into two days filled with tools, equipment, a Car Show, celebrity appearances and some of the country’s top speakers providing education that you can’t get anywhere else…You CANNOT afford to miss this Show!”

“ABAT’s show gets bigger and better every year, and I’m completely confident that this will be the biggest and best Trade Show we’ve ever had, so you don’t want to miss it,” Richards promises. “Whether you’re a technician, a manager or an owner, the 2024 Texas Auto Body Trade Show is guaranteed to help you better yourself and your business. So, why wouldn’t you make the time to embrace this amazing chance to rub elbows with industry leaders and really shake things up in your shop?” 

Stay tuned for more updates on the 2024 Texas Auto Body Trade Show in next month’s Texas Automotive. To learn more about the show and to register, visit 

Want more? Check out the June 2024 issue of Texas Automotive!