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Cab lines aside, smiles were evident

People were everywhere. Lines for restaurants, cabs and elevators seemed interminable. Traffic jams in aisles and on the street meant no matter where you were going, it was going to take you a while to get there.

And by nearly every measure ­imaginable, people couldn’t have been happier.

“Industry Week,” as it’s known around these offices (or SEMA Week or AAPEX Week depending on your ­particular leanings) has come and gone and has left some people scratching their heads. “Where,” they ask, “was the pessimism? Where,” they wonder, “were the frowns?”

Somewhat unexpectedly, say some pundits, 2013 has turned into a great year in the automotive aftermarket and the attendance and enthusiasm in Las Vegas seemed to echo that. At more than one visit with a reader, customer or prospect, I was asked, “Can you believe the number of people here today? This is crazy!”
There unconfirmed reports that at least one engine parts manufacturer was seen dancing a jig when asked how the week had been for him. Several others at each show said they were overwhelmed with requests for information and could barely keep up with the flow of traffic.

I guess you could say they didn’t plan well enough – after all, both AAIA and SEMA offered bold predictions for the success of each show in early October.

Pre- SEMA Show expectations were for 130,000 professionals from more than 130 countries to visit more than 2,500 exhibitors in more than 1 million square-feet of floor space.

“We expect to fill every nook and cranny at the Las Vegas Convention Center this year,” said Peter MacGillivray, SEMA’s VP of events and communications before the show opened. “We’ve even contracted for exhibitor space at the LVH (Hotel) next door.”

Those measures were, in fact, necessary and somewhat inadequate, because exhibit booths were still located in parts of the Convention Center that I’ve never seen in 25 years of attending Las Vegas tradeshows.

Just across the Wynn Golf Course, a short half-hour walk (or 45 minute cab ride) away, the AAPEX Show celebrated similar numbers at the Sands Expo Center. Following the show and after she had a chance to catch her breath, AAIA President and CEO Kathleen Schmatz confirmed pre-show hype: this was the biggest AAPEX ever.

“Biggest number of booths and biggest number of exhibitors,” she told me. “Buyer counts in our categories were also up. There were more than 120,000 people attending AAIW and the folks in Las Vegas tell me that we brought $176.1 million in non-gambling dollars to the city last week.”

Good times to be sure, and the feel-good is expected to continue when the PRI Trade Show hits Indianapolis in mid-December. Excitement now from our advertisers indicate that your customers are likely to be ready to spend in 2014.

Our commitment is to making sure that the professional engine builder has the best chance for success. We’ll continue to help you maximize your profit and professionalism.

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Doug Kaufman
Doug Kaufman has been with Babcox Media since 1987 serving in a variety of editorial and publishing roles and titles. He is currently publisher of Engine Builder. He also has been editorial liaison between Babcox and the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) for the past 12 years. Doug has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Bowling Green State University and remains a committed MAC enthusiast.
Doug Kaufman

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