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R. L. Polk & Co.’s Ask the Industry: Countdown to AAPEX

It’s hard to believe, but the moment we’ve all been waiting for is now less than seven weeks away. And no, we’re not talking about Christmas. It’s the countdown to the annual Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo in Las Vegas , and we’ve asked a few aftermarket companies about their plans and preparations for the industry’s biggest event.

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By Amy Antenora, Editor

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It’s hard to believe, but the moment we’ve all been waiting for is now less than seven weeks away. And no, we’re not talking about Christmas. It’s the countdown to the annual Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo in Las Vegas , and we’ve asked a few aftermarket companies about their plans and preparations for the industry’s biggest event.

This year’s show is expected to be a record-setting event with more than 470,000-net-square-feet of exhibit space, spilling out of the Sand Convention Center and into the halls of the Venetian hotel ballrooms.

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It’s no surprise to learn that companies like Permatex begin planning for the next year’s show almost as soon as they step off the show floor. From hotel bookings to booth space arrangments, checklists and meetings prevent important details from being overlooked, said Permatex Director of Marketing Tony Battaglia.

“We actually starting thinking about [our plans for the next year’s show] in December, almost a month after the show wraps up,” said Battaglia. “In the first quarter, we book our sales meeting room at the Venetian and get all our lodging arrangements made because the hotels fill up pretty quickly. We actually have a checklist of all the different things we need to do to prepare. We have a meeting as well. I think it’s good to get all the players involved with the show together in the first quarter to start thinking about our plans. We’re trying something new this year. We sponsor an NHRA race car, and we’re going to have the car in the booth. Therein is an another item that requires extra planning – working with our exhibit planner to determine how the car will fit.

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John Gethin , president and chief operating officer, Standard Motor Products, said his company starts planning nearly a year in advance.

“We really start thinking about AAPEX right around the first of the New Year. First, we concentrate on getting our booth space locked up, and then we begin developing our identification and message to our customers,” said Gethin. “That’s when our theme comes together with our graphics, art and logos. In mid-summer, we get our sales personnel lined up and coordinate with the show sight vendors. About two weeks prior to the show, we arrange our materials and ship everything to Las Vegas. This year our focus for AAPEX is to turn it back into a selling show.”

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For Penray, when the company starts planning isn’t as important as what they plan for the show.

In order to get the most bang for our buck, we emphasize attracting customers and showcasing fresh products and ideas,” said Chris McKenzie, director of marketing for Penray. “Although the biggest industry show is always on our mind, Penray really starts preparing for AAPEX in the late summer. Many areas, like advertising, are usually shored up by then. However, we do start sending out invitations, setting up meetings, blueprinting our booth displays and planning promotions as early as possible.“

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This year, AAPEX has been compressed into a three day event. AAPEX will take place Tuesday, Oct. 31, through Thursday, Nov. 2, at the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas. Expected to be another record breaking show, AAPEX 2005 experienced the highest number of exhibitors ever with 2,067, up 95 from 2004. New exhibitors totaled 590, up 56.

For more information about AAPEX 2006, visit: http://www.aapexshow.com.

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