First Impressions: Automechanika Chicago

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Automechanika — the largest trade show dedicated to the automotive aftermarket industry and high-end technical training — made its North American debut April 24-26 at McCormick Place West in Chicago, Illinois.

According to Messe Frankfurt, producer of Automechanika, nearly 6,000 people attended and more than 450 exhibitors from 23 countries showcased the newest tools, equipment and products for the automotive aftermarket industry.

“Our passion for the industry and the opportunity to bring the aftermarket manufacturers and suppliers together with the shop owners and technicians has fulfilled a dream,” said Dennis Smith, president of Messe Frankfurt North America. “We appreciate the support of the industry in making this a reality.”

Having Automechanika take place in Chicago may seem like an odd choice considering Detroit, Michigan, (AKA The Motor City) is nearby, but there was a reason behind the decision.

“Chicago was selected because of its central location and easy access for attendees,” said Chris DeMoulin, executive vice president for Automotive, UBM Advanstar, a trade show organizing company. “It was the tens of thousands of service and collision repair shop owners, managers, techs and mechanics who communicated their need for an event designed especially for them, which in many ways brought about this dynamic event. We [were] excited to bring their desires to fruition.”

Automechanika focused on three main areas: innovation, education and inspiration. In addition to new products and advanced technologies being presented, show floor demonstrations and training seminars allowed shop owners and technicians to meet suppliers and vendors from around the world and learn about the latest trends and techniques.

“The show was good,” said Finn Scheneefeldt from Jensendiesel, a company engaged in the sale of complete units and spare parts for diesel injection, ignition systems, sensors and electrical components in cars, trucks, generator engines in more, located in Denmark. “I traveled from Europe to participate in the launch as I was looking for quality attendees from the U.S. market and an opportunity to connect on a personal level. I have visited other Automechanika shows and was impressed with the new [Chicago] show.”

Automotive celebrities amped up the energy and excitement on the show floor. Industry stars such as Jared Zimmerman of Velocity TV’s “Car Fix,” metal fabricator and racing driver Jessi Combs and Eric, “the Car Guy” and the famous Ring brothers with their 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle, “Recoil,” were all eager to meet and greet with attendees as they signed autographs and discussed the latest automotive trends. Rev’n TV was also at the show, covering all the latest news and interviewing attendees on their Automechanika experience.

The event also declared the biggest platform for industry training, hosting more than 100 seminars and workshops with more than 2,000 shop owners and technicians attending the sessions. Some of the classes focused on hands-on training and techniques while others helped owners uncover how to turn their shops into multi-million dollar businesses.

I was able to sit in on a few of the classes and was thoroughly impressed at how knowledgeable the speakers were. During the TPMS Tips and Tricks class, hosted by Michael Rose, product manager of Bartec, we were reminded just how vital TPMS is to a vehicle’s safety.

Rose said, “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration should have called it the Tire Pressure Safety System, not the Tire Pressure Monitoring System.”

That stood out to me because, if we can get customers to understand TPMS does much more than monitor tire pressure, it will be beneficial to the entire automotive industry.

The Automotive Maintenance and Repair Association and Motorist Assurance Program (AMRA/MAP) had a spring membership meeting during the show. Stephen Spivey, transportation program manager of Frost and Sullivan, was the keynote speaker. He touched on some very intriguing topics, including statistics on a 21-percent growth in TPMS. Len Vogt, tech committee co-chair of AMRA/MAP, gave the technical committee report and Helen Mac Murray, AMRA attorney, gave the legislative/regulatory update. AMRA also recognized its founding members.

There was an opening night celebration at the Navy Pier. Free hors d’oeuvres and drinks were served and music from the Gold Coast All Stars kept spirits lively. Many of the attendees were able to mix, mingle and get to know one another in a relaxing atmosphere.

There are 14 Automechanika events held every other year around the world, including: Buenos Aires, Chicago, Dubai, Frankfurt, Istanbul, Jeddah, Johannesburg, Kuala Lumpur, Madrid, Mexico City, Moscow, New Delhi, St. Petersburg and Shanghai.

Automechanika Chicago is scheduled to return in spring 2017. 

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