GERMANTOWN, Tenn. The Automotive Distribution Network hosted its largest convention yet on Feb. 26-29, with a sellout crowd of more than 1,450 of the group’s warehouse members, jobbers, service dealers and manufacturer partners in attendance at the Wynn Las Vegas Resort.
“The unprecedented reaction to our 12th Network National Convention epitomized that the automotive aftermarket is still about people and relationships,” said Mike Lambert, president of the Network. “With this year’s attendance 20 percent higher than any of our previous gatherings, the 2012 convention further enhanced the camaraderie and the idea of being a part of something bigger in the industry among our membership.”
With seminar topics ranging from social media marketing to business financial management to auto repair selling techniques that are effective yet ethical, the 2012 event stressed the importance of the group staying ahead of the curve in an ever-changing industry, said Danny Ward, Network chairman and owner of Atlanta-based Southeastern Automotive Warehouse.
“If you’re not constantly striving to move ahead, you’re sitting still in the aftermarket,” Ward said. “Our record turnout this year reflects the commitment at every level of the Network distribution chain to continue to better themselves and outperform their competition. Perhaps most important, it gives us all a chance the warehouses, the jobbers, the service dealers and the manufacturers to come together and talk about what’s working in local markets and exchange ideas in a fun setting. That kind of communication is all too rare in this industry.”
More than 190 vendors were on hand at the Network’s 50,000-square-foot Manufacturers Expo at the Wynn, displaying their latest products and services as well as providing the opportunity to speak face-to-face with their customers in the field.
Lucia Veiga Moretti, president of product & service solutions for Delphi, and Joe Pomeranski, Tenneco’s vice president for the North American Aftermarket, joined Lambert, Ward and members of the Network’s national jobber and service dealer councils in an open-forum discussion moderated by Jeff Stankard, vice president and group publisher for Babcox Media. The panel not only discussed industry trends and their respective market conditions but also fielded questions from the audience concerning such factors as the car dealerships’ aggressive extended warranties, rising gasoline prices and the resulting effect on motorists’ driving habits and how fuel costs increase the expense of doing business across the board in the distribution chain.
Clay Millican, driver of the Parts Plus Dragster in the NHRA Full Throttle Series, helped kick off the festivities at the opening assembly and signed autographs throughout the Expo, while renowned Las Vegas entertainer Gordie Brown of “Late Show with David Letterman” fame closed the show with his unique brand of impressions and offbeat comedy.