More than 2,000 Auto Value and Bumper to Bumper professionals converged on AAPEX in Las Vegas as part of the Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance Inc.’s convention.
This year’s “Aftermarket Jackpot: High Stakes Edition” was the Alliance’s grandest convention to date. Two full days of convention attendees visiting the AAPEX show floor, three days of giveaways – including more than a dozen trips to Hawaii – and the crowning of the 2022 Auto Value and Bumper to Bumper Technician of the Year for the United States, Canada and Latin America.
On Wednesday, Nov. 2, Nellis Air Force Base Honor Guard presented the nation’s colors while renowned Las Vegas anthem singer Jennifer Lear started the day by singing the national anthems for Canada and the United States. As Lear sang, sand artist Teresa Herrick created patriotic images of both nations with sand.
Following the opening ceremony, JC Washbish, vice president of sales and marketing for the Alliance, led a panel discussion of industry leaders. Joining Washbish were Chris Pruitt, president and CEO of East Penn Manufacturing; Corey Bartlett, president and CEO of Automotive Parts Headquarters; and Eric Sills, president and CEO of Standard Motor Products; as well as comedian, podcast and TV personality Adam Carolla. The panel discussed industry outlooks, their own excitement for the AAPEX show and shared memories of their favorite car experiences.
The panel proceeded to lead the grand parade over to the AAPEX show floor with pomp and circumstance. The Las Vegas police closed down Las Vegas Boulevard as Jackpot attendees were escorted by showgirls, Elvis stilt-walkers, bagpipers and drumline musicians for the one-mile trek to AAPEX.
“Adding Aftermarket Jackpot to Industry Week brings the best technicians, shop owners, store owners and warehouse distributors together to develop our skills and strengthen relationships throughout the supply chain,” Bartlett said.
Alliance channel partners were eager to engage with Auto Value and Bumper to Bumper attendees on the AAPEX floor, where suppliers had completely revitalized the show floor with interactive training opportunities, competitions and giveaways.
“The buzz on the show floor was electric waiting for Jackpot attendees to make their big entrance Wednesday morning,” said Kevin Reamer, sales director at DRiV. Many suppliers also brought additional personnel to host insightful discussion inside their booths.
Jackpot attendees shared their channel partners’ enthusiasm for two full days of interactive training, exciting dialogue along with the chance to hit it big with Jackpot prizes and giveaways.
“As a shop owner, AAPEX and the Aftermarket Jackpot Convention serve as the Super Bowl of the aftermarket industry,” says Bill Nalu, president of Interstate Auto Care of Madison Heights, Michigan. “The hands-on training and face to face interaction with the name brands we install is invaluable. We’re grateful to Auto Value and Bumper to Bumper for creating this unique opportunity!”
The Jackpot Convention had kicked off the night before with a Polynesian troupe of hula girls, Hawaiian drummers and fire dancers. This island entertainment set up the grand-prize theme of trips to Hawaii. Attendees earned entries to win a Hawaiian vacation of a lifetime by visiting channel-partner booths at AAPEX. Later, Josh Blue of “America’s Got Talent” and “Last Comic Standing” fame headlined that evening.
Jackpot co-hosts JC Washbish and Jim Holik, director of marketing for the Alliance also introduced the Auto Value and Bumper Technician of the Year finalists for the United States. These 11 technicians were highlighted each evening. Finally, the Auto Value Technician of the Year from Canada, Brent Mattern from Mainline Fleet Service, and customer of Alliance member Auto Electric, was recognized.
The following night, Aftermarket Jackpot attendees regrouped for dinner and live entertainment including the Photon Krew, LED-suited light dancers. As part of the show, the Alliance announced the Auto Value Latin America Technician of the Year, Jose Ramirez, owner of Servicio Automotriz Ramirez and customer of Alliance member Triple-A. Washbish and Holik gave away prizes to several attendees before Adam Carolla took the stage.
The Jackpot concluded on Thursday with a second full day of visiting AAPEX. That evening’s entertainment included an Elvis impersonator, a live band and a Las Vegas strip mainstay: The Twins – Dueling Pianos Show.
Recognizing Award Winners
In addition to the entertainment, Washbish and Holik recognized several key award winners on stage. First was Mandy Balk, the 2022 AMN/Counterman Counter Professional of the Year. Balk is the store manager of Auto Value Thorpe, in Thorpe, Wisconsin. Dean Martin and Jim Merle of Babcox remained on stage to talk about aftermarketNews and ShopOwner magazines – both of which had been plated throughout the week. Thursday evening, ShopOwner magazine was waiting for each attendee at their seat. What they didn’t know was 20 lucky magazines were loaded with a $500 golden ticket.
Following Balk’s presentation, the Auto Value and Bumper to Bumper Technician of the Year program, sponsored by DRiV, highlighted the night. “It’s an honor to recognize the best technicians from across the United States,” said DRiV’s Reamer, who joined Washbish, Holik and the 11 Technician of the Year finalists on stage.
Also present was Tim Zilke, president and CEO of the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. “This year’s finalist class was phenomenal. They should all be proud to represent their shops,” said Zilke. The Technician of the Year finalists were required to take a custom ASE exam earlier in July. Their final test scores determined the winner.
Ross Colket, owner of Colket Technical Services in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, and customer of Eastern Warehouse, was named the 2022 Auto Value and Bumper to Bumper Technician of the Year. Colket previously had served on the Alliance’s Service Center Advisory Council, where he helped found the Technician of the Year program. In a full-circle moment, he was crowned this year’s champion.
In the closing moments of the Aftermarket Jackpot Thursday-evening finale, the stage was packed with the final round of grand-prize winners. With envelopes in hand, the attendees simultaneously opened their envelopes to reveal Hawaii trips from channel-partner suppliers. As the prizes were announced, pyrotechnics and confetti filled the stage. And that’s why they call it Jackpot!