With all the concern over the economy and business belt tightening across the nation, it’s more important than ever to network and look to global market opportunities and international sales strategies. This approach can help bridge the gap during the economic blip our country is experiencing. Echoing those sentiments is Lee Kadrich, VP, government affairs and trade for AAIA (Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association), and executive director for AIA (the Auto International Association segment of AAIA), who said: “Challenging economic times make it even more important for smaller and-medium-sized companies to expand overseas sales, work smarter, and explore joint ventures and other means to enhance their global footprint.”
Having attended the Automechanika show, held in Frankfurt, Germany, Sept. 16-21, Kadrich provides some first-hand commentary on the event. As it has for more than 30 years, AAIA again co-sponsored the U.S. Pavilions at Automechanika, and while the weak U.S. dollar made for a more expensive show, said Kadrich, the prospects of exporting competitively priced products spurred 40 AAIA members to participate in the U.S. Pavilions.
“Interest in American exhibitors and products is always strong at Automechanika,” explained Kadrich. “While the many prominent U.S. multinational supplier exhibitors have been integral players for years as European OE and aftermarket suppliers, the U.S. Pavilions offer American exhibitors of all sizes the means to reach buyers, especially from the huge European Union (EU) aftermarket and fast-growing aftermarkets of Eastern Europe.
“The U.S. Pavilions also provide American exhibitors the advantages of an attractive turnkey package and valuable services, such as lounges with refreshments and multilingual hostesses. Certified by the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), the pavilions also ensure that exhibitors have the support of U.S. Foreign Commercial Service officers.
“This year, AAIA co-sponsored with MEMA and SEMA a pre-Automechanika reception at the U.S. Consul General’s Frankfurt residence, where member exhibitors could network with the prominent international distributors invited by the DOC.
“Of course, when it comes to international aftermarket shows, AAIW stands apart as the world’s premier marketplace for prominent global suppliers and buyers, especially since it is an annual, trade-only event. AAIA and its allied associations have partnered with the U.S. DOC for many years to make AAIW the “crown jewel” of all trade promotion efforts. We believe that AAIW draws the world’s best suppliers, retailers, distributors, car care professionals, service providers and business services.
“Each year the DOC’s International Buyers Program helps recruit new buyer attendees and, once introduced, these firms often become repeat attendees, building upon the buying power of the world’s greatest marketplace for the products, technologies and ideas that help keep the world’s motorists on the road.”
AAIW, being held in Vegas on Nov. 4-6, undoubtedly delivers exceptional value to exhibitors and attendees alike. Comprised of the AAPEX and SEMA shows, AAIW was attended by more than 117,800 visitors last year, making it the largest automotive trade event in the world. And, it’s more than a trade show. The venue provides educational seminars on industry issues, new technology, market opportunities and more, as well as a host of receptions and networking opportunities galore. Leverage it….and you, too, can make a positive impact on our industry.