LAS VEGAS The Automotive Distribution Network went all-out to make its 12th annual national convention the biggest and best yet.
More than 1,450 people are attending the event, held at the Wynn hotel and casino in Las Vegas, with 20 percent more people in attendance than the previous convention.
President Mike Lambert welcomed attendees during Monday morning’s general session.
“Look around this room. We are the industry,” Lambert said to representatives from warehouses, parts stores, repair shops and manufacturers. “All segments of the aftermarket are represented here. It takes all of us to do this. It’s a great place to work. But nobody ever said it was easy.”
Lambert thanked parts pros in the audience. “You’re the ones in the trenches who find parts all day long,” he said. “You know how to find stuff that the customer needs. I’ve seen you open your stores late at night to help a customer in trouble. You take care both of the service dealer and the DIYer. Thanks for being here.”
To warehouse members, who must stock between 250,000 and 300,000 SKUs, Lambert also gave thanks. “They try to anticipate every need of every customer,” he said. “I know you don’t get thanked enough.”
Lambert said despite the overall downturn in the general economy, the automotive aftermarket is up and he reminded attendees that the aftermarket is one of the biggest industries in the economy, and worth about $250 billion.
Attendees at the general session also were treated to an appearance and question and answer session led by the Network’s Bob Barstow and featuring Clay Millican, the IHRA top fuel driver who is sponsored by Parts Plus. A top fuel dragster can reach 100 mph in less than a second, Millican said. “It’ll put your eyeballs in the back of your head,” Millican said. “It can be an exciting ride.”
Millican said crew members can tear down, rebuild an engine and re-pack the parachute in 45 minutes.
Attendees were treated Sunday night to a welcome reception brimming with food and a performance by “Elvis” on stage, whose singing and hip-thrusting brought the audience to their collective feet.
On Tuesday night, comedian, impressionist and singer Gordie Brown is slated to perform. He last made an appearance at the Network convention in 1996 in Miami.
The Network is hosting a manufacturers’ expo spread across 50,000 square feet at the Wynn.
Attendees also have the opportunity to learn during one of 15 educational seminars, covering topics such as TPMS, “selling auto repair made easy,” and the value proposition that ASE brings to the table.