As I receive the notification in my inbox for a THIRD delay in a decision regarding the Right to Repair court case the automakers filed against the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, it highlights how important it is for me to share with you what our industry is up against, and what to truly expect in the battle for maintenance and repair data.
Right to Repair
After having won the right to repair vehicles in 2014 after the automakers signed an MOU following our triumph at the 2012 ballot in Massachusetts, the next task was already at stake, and that was to secure access to the wirelessly-transmitted vehicle maintenance and repair data. Originally excluded from the law that granted access to data from the OBD-II port, newer models now transmit this data directly back to the automaker, unfairly forcing the consumer to less convenient repair options.
So, what does this have to do with AAPEX? The short answer is: A LOT! The Associations that own AAPEX, Auto Care Association and Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA), need the funding from the AAPEX show to advocate on your behalf. If there wasn’t an AAPEX show, there would be no Right to Repair and no federal REPAIR ACT. And Right to Repair isn’t just an issue in the U.S. – it affects us all globally. Our brothers and sisters in Australia were able to have Right to Repair pass the Senate to become law and South Africa had a recent triumph, but our colleagues in Canada and U.K. are also still fighting this battle.
As the automakers continue to use technology to lock us out, our advocacy efforts increase exponentially.
The challenge for all of us is to make AAPEX a must attend event. As an exhibitor in the early part of my career, the question was always posed, “Do we really need another trade show?” This question is even more relevant today as we have become reliant upon virtual meetings, virtual training and the ability to meet with your customers at the click of a mouse.
As we begin to transition out of the pandemic, there are some practices we adopted over the past two years that will stick and other previous long-term habits will be replaced. Your approach to AAPEX, whether you are an exhibitor or a buyer, should change as well.
AAPEX Booth Visit
We are investing in the show to increase your exposure to shop owners and technicians. This was initiated last year with the creation of Repair Shop HQ and Joe’s Garage on the lower level of the Sands Expo (now The Venetian Expo). As a buyer, an AWDA member, or a retailer, bringing your repair shop customers to AAPEX creates a bond and an opportunity to expose your customers to our entire industry. We are increasing our training segments so that they are up-to-speed on the latest technologies including advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and electrification. I especially appreciate the Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance for bringing their 3,000+ Auto Value, Bumper-To-Bumper shops to the show this year; they will have the upper-hand when they return home to their shops with the latest in training and the opportunity to having talked directly to their parts manufacturers.
Exhibitors should also look at the show differently and ask themselves:
- Am I sending the right people?
- Does my exhibit address the needs of current operating conditions in the aftermarket?
- Are the staff members in my booth able to answer technical questions about my products?
- Am I promoting my latest/newest products?
- Does my exhibit meet the needs of the end consumer?
- Am I doing my best to set meetings up with customers and prospects in advance of the show or am I just relying upon drive-by traffic? Remember: it is quality, not quantity.
- Have I attended an AAPEX Exhibitor Summit to learn from the pros about new exhibition techniques, branding and ways to be more cost-efficient?
I implore all of you, whether a buyer or an exhibitor to think, act and attend industry week differently. We all must change to meet the different operating conditions of our amazing $400 billion U.S. industry.
My most important request, however, is that you attend Industry week.
We have your back every single day. We are on Capitol Hill and in states having our industry declared essential. We are working with the commerce department on trade and supply issues that affect your businesses. We are providing data to you on a daily basis in order for you to make better business decisions. We are providing product data standards that make the right part, right place, right time a reality every single minute of every single day in America.
Right to Repair
By you attending industry week, we were able to secure a 75% margin of victory in Massachusetts for the revised Right to Repair law that ensures our industry’s future; we were able to keep your doors open in the darkest days of the pandemic and we are able to provide you with the opportunity to create that unique IN-PERSON relationship with your customer or supplier.
While we await the Judge’s verdict in Massachusetts, we aren’t waiting to advocate for you every day. You see, we need you just as much as you need us, and our common thread is AAPEX/Industry week.
Let’s make AAPEX/Industry week 2022 the best one ever by thinking and acting differently so that you can improve your business and we can protect it.
Bill Hanvey is president and CEO of the Auto Care Association, which represents the entire supply chain of the independent automotive aftermarket. Previously, Hanvey served as senior vice president of the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA). He has spent his entire 35-plus-year career in the aftermarket, serving in roles for Schaeffler Group USA, Dorman Products and others.