If you have read anything I wrote, you have probably noticed that I am always suggesting that you get out of your shop, attend training, meet some new people and get a new perspective on what you do. I’m able to do this a bit more than is strictly necessary as part of my work with Automotive Service Association, the National Automotive Service Task Force, National Automotive Technician’s Education Foundation and as a technical and management trainer. The opportunities I have working in the industry, from the highest levels to teaching the guys who make the actual magic happen, gives me a certain perspective of where we’re going.
From my point of view, we are in the midst of one of the most interesting transformations our industry has ever seen. There is an unprecedented amount of cooperation occurring throughout the industry and that’s a good thing. There is also a number of substantial and disruptive changes coming.
When my editor Andrew asked me to write about CARS and NACE, it was akin to asking a father, “How are your kids?” I am intimately involved in the CARS program and education components, so without sounding too pushy, I am going to tell you why you cannot miss a trip to Anaheim, Calif., this August.
An observation we have made is that many shops think attending a national event is something you can do every couple of years. That strategy is not adequate anymore. In fact, you probably need a few events per year. We have seen at NACE there are programs that were relevant one year and outdated the next. CARS and NACE are built to keep you up to date. Some of our topics are so current that our registration website has to wait until the very last minute to get more than a basic description.
CARS is no longer a training event. It is now an informational, strategic planning, and networking event unlike any other, and that is intentional. There are great training events all around the country so there was not a need for another. The real need, we believe, is helping shops to compete in a very noisy world.
We have classes, but they are restructured because we know you already know how to run a shop. What you need is the latest techniques and the understanding of how the model has changed from customers to employees. We have several marquis programs that serve this end.
The Technology and Telematics Forum (TTF) is in its third year. It is focused on getting you up to speed on cutting-edge technologies. We are going to kick off this year with a panel on vehicle hacking and what the risks are for repair shops. There are a couple of presentations in our TTF that nobody else has. To make sure that all of this tech is not ‘geek speak,’ we have asked our industry experts to package it for the repair shops. The experts will provide not just the information but also how it relates to your business.
As I am writing this we are putting the finishing touches on an opportunity for TTF attendees to drive a vehicle that has not even been released yet. We are not going to talk about autonomous cars; we are going to show you how it will be done.
The most exciting part for me about this year’s NACE and CARS is that the Automotive Management Institute (AMI) is back in a huge way. AMI students in service, repair or collision can use a special ASA/AMI training event as credit for the self-study requirement and graduate with their accredited automotive manager designation on Friday at the Celebration of Excellence. The event will be hosted in a place so cool it will be completely worth the effort to get 120 credit hours between now and then.
The AMI trainers have stepped up in a big way and have built an excellent day of presentations, many of which are new for our show. Trainers will include Maylan Newton, Jeremy O’Neal, Bogi Lateiner, and Cecil Bullard, just to name a few. This training is open to anyone interested in taking several steps forward in a single day. Regardless of your discipline we have a track for you.
Our Service Repair and Leadership Forum this year will include discussions and panels led by some of the most influential people in the industry, people who have their finger on the pulse of the future gathered together in one room with the best repair shop operators in the country. You simply cannot get this anywhere else.
We have a couple of new additions to the show this year. Our friends at Garage Gurus are providing local technicians with Spanish language technical training with the support of Babcox Media’s Servicio Automotriz. Our focus groups also told us that we needed to address the heavy-duty market, so we have also added heavy-duty technical and collision training presented by the top names in the heavy-duty industry. ASA is also very happy to welcome our sister organization, the Automotive Service Council of California, who will be co-locating their annual meeting with CARS.
One last word on CARS to my service repair brothers and sisters: Do not mistake the disparity in size between NACE and CARS as anything other than CARS being the best kept secret in the industry. It is open to everyone. The programs at CARS will change your view of the industry and where you fit in it. ASA is blessed to have so many fantastic supporters who share our vision in truly wanting to help you succeed.
Switching over to NACE, ASA President Dan Risley, VP Tony Molla and their cast of thousands have a truly Disney-like experience lined up in Anaheim this year. Meetings start on Monday, August 8, this year and include the very well-attended MSO Symposium and over a dozen co-located events including CIC, CREF, CIECA, Approved Performance Network OEM certification program and California Autobody Association just to name a few.
Education opportunities abound including involvement from 11 carmakers this year to include a new addition in Tesla and some great classes on new model features and repair techniques from Ford, Toyota, Cadillac, Honda, Mazda and more on the OE stage. Our friends at CAR O Liner and Pro Spot have big plans for our attendees as well.
I have to close with one of our new traditions: the Young Technician’s Symposium. ASA’s commitment to encouraging new blood in our industry is on full display with our equally passionate partner in CARQUEST Technical Institute. This year a limited number of bright young technicians will have the opportunity to bring their own scan tool and learn, on a live vehicle simulator, helpful techniques. These technicians will move from code checkers to scan tool power users. This program is unlike anything we have offered before and is a true fit for the young minds we need in our industry.
The show floor is almost sold out. Hotel rooms are going fast. The work starts Monday. The Party starts Wednesday night. Visit carsevent.com or naceexpo.com and register. If you miss out on what the collective industry has to share there is a good chance that what you don’t know will hurt later. Thank you to Babcox for their steadfast support of NACE and CARS. n