By Mary DellaValle
Editor of ImportCar, Shop Owner magazines
The saying “Everything is bigger in Texas” was clearly evident during WORLDPAC’s fourth Supplier & Training EXPO (STX) held April 21-24 at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas, near Dallas. The world-class event served up generous portions of advanced technical and business training, networking opportunities, a supplier expo, a new master distribution center grand opening and a whole lot more to feed attendees’ appetites for staying ahead of the competition, increasing their profitability and growing their businesses for the long term. Topping it all off was WORLDPAC’s secret sauce: Listening to its customers.
Fulfilling the theme “Technology & Innovation,” more than 160 new classes taught by industry expert instructors helped draw record attendance, comprised of 60 percent returning attendees and 40 percent first-time attendees. Offered exclusively to WORLDPAC customers across North America by invitation only, the event was attended by more than 1,600 participants in all.
“Our goal is to provide you with professional management training to help you grow your business profitably and world-class technical training to meet today’s demands of diagnosing and repairing the most advanced vehicles,” said Bob Cushing, president and CEO, WORLDPAC.
WORLDPAC customers welcomed the company’s commitment to offering highly specialized training with open arms. Some even closed down their shop for a few days to attend the event because they realize the value of bringing their entire team — a testimony to the value of the event and their commitment to grow and sustain their business.
Intently focused on ensuring a great experience for attendees, members of the WORLDPAC senior management team could be seen actively engaging with their vendor community as well as customers throughout the event.
“We are passionate about training — our customers continue to innovate, vehicle technology continues to accelerate and this event is pivotal in taking our customers to a new level,” said Mario Recchia, senior vice president, marketing, WORLDPAC.
To view photos from the 2016 WORLDPAC Supplier & Training EXPO, click here.
Beyond the wealth of knowledge obtained from the training sessions, shop owners and technicians benefitted from time spent networking and sharing best practices with their peers from all across North America, especially during the hugely popular Supplier EXPO, featuring more than 130 OE and premier international aftermarket suppliers and manufacturers, and a special show area where tools and equipment were displayed and offered for sales during the EXPO. Held both Friday and Saturday evening, the EXPO provided an exclusive opportunity for WORLDPAC customers to gain product knowledge about the brands they use every day. Local automotive students from Brookhaven College and Universal Technical Institute (UTI) also were in attendance.
Also during the EXPO, the Textar and WORLDPAC management teams congratulated the grand-prize winner of the Textar Ultimate Power Shop promotion, Sami Todd of German Auto Group in Virginia, by awarding him an oversized check at the Textar booth. Todd received the WORLDPAC Tool & Equipment Services Ultimate Power Shop Bundle and a trip to the Supplier & Training Expo, valued at $50,000. More than 100 total prizes were awarded to winners of the Textar Ultimate Power Shop promotion.
Distribution Center Grand Opening
Another example of WORLDPAC’s commitment to the market and its customers’ success was evidenced in the establishment of a new distribution center (DC) in the Flower Mound area of Dallas, for which a grand opening celebration was held on Saturday, April 23. The 500,000-square-foot facility is WORLDPAC’s largest distribution center in North America.
“We go out of our way to develop long-term relationships with our suppliers and customers and continue to do whatever is necessary to enhance our business together and work together strategically to capture additional market share,” said Cushing after he cut the ceremonial red ribbon to commemorate the master distribution facility’s grand opening. “That’s what it’s all about; we all want to grow.
“Our new Dallas Master Distribution Center will provide critical mass for our supply chain to support our aggressive branch expansion. With additional branches planned throughout Texas and surrounding areas, the opening of the new distribution center is a critical step to support our growth strategy. The complete WORLDPAC product offering will be stocked and available to our growing network of customers and branches throughout North America and Puerto Rico,” continued Cushing.
Recchia echoed similar sentiments about the impact of the new distribution center. “WORLDPAC is committed to delivering the right part at the right time. We are excited about the expanded distribution capabilities made possible by this new facility,” he said. “The company has a long established presence in the Dallas metro area as well as the larger Texas community. This new DC allows us to better service our customers through increased innovation and technology and also supports growth within the local market. A win-win.”
As part of Saturday night’s dinner program, Cushing painted a sustained positive outlook for the import aftermarket with his presentation titled, “An Inside View into WORLDPAC & the Automotive Landscape Today.”
“The import parts opportunity is greater than ever; it’s a great time to be in this business,” Cushing said as he discussed the various ways that WORLDPAC is helping its customers compete with the OE dealer in repairing today’s generation of new vehicles and growing their business to new levels of profitably.
Cushing also discussed positive market influences like the impact of fuel prices on miles driven, the average vehicle age and the repair “sweet spot,” total U.S. light vehicle unit sales, U.S. vehicles in operation (VIO) and import vehicles’ market share gains — all positive barometers that point to an import marketplace that is poised to provide greater opportunities for the manufacturers, suppliers, distributors and technicians who call it their home.