Final Wrap: May
The Big Winners Made Their Own Luck in Vegas
By Doug Kaufman
In Las Vegas, a city where being lucky is more important than being good, AERA Expo attendees really stood out. Despite the best efforts of a great many people, you could say that the engine building industry has had more than its share of bad luck. Yet the mood at the recent AERA Expo 2003 was anything but gloomy – it was quietly optimistic and surprisingly upbeat. And, registered attendees exceeded almost all expectations.
Let’s be honest. The dice haven’t been rolling the industry’s way lately. Some of the recent AERA conventions haven’t quite lived up to their potential and a lot of naysayers have been pulling their chips off the table and walking away. But exhibitors and rebuilders alike seemed to have a great deal of positive things to say about this year’s gathering.
If you missed AERA Expo 2003, you missed a lot – for exhibitors a lot of quality, interested buyers, and for engine builders, significant educational opportunities in seminars, and the latest in equipment and parts.
The hot topic of conversation at the Expo was, of course, the exciting sport compact performance market. We’ve covered it extensively in these pages with feature articles on the Honda 1.6L engine build that was raffled off by the Vanguard group (incidentally, the engine was won by Jeff Grant, a student at Northwest Technical College in Bemidji, MN) and we’ll have a final wrap up of the engine’s performance dyno numbers next month.
But not everyone wants to build these "race rocket" engines. Luckily, we heard from many rebuilders who wanted to tell us about finding other niches in which they’re able to be successful. From compact diesels to antique restorations to multi-engine tractor pulling to parts manufacturing, there’s a segment of the market out there that may offer profits to you as well.
We plan to cover these and similar opportunities in depth in upcoming issues of Engine Builder, so feel free to e-mail me with additional suggestions.
Jay Steel, owner of Taylor Engine in Whittier, CA, was presented Engine Builder magazine’s "2003 Machine Shop of the Year" award to a packed house. He was joined in Las Vegas by representatives from at least five previous Machine Shops of the Year, all talented businesspeople who have used the Award as a big part of their marketing efforts.
In Vegas, the advantage usually goes to the House. In this industry, the advantage now goes to those who made their own luck at the AERA Expo.
Doug Kaufman is the editor of Engine Builder Magazine. He has reported on business in the various segments of the automotive aftermarket for the past 16 years. Feel free to contact him with comments or suggestions. email@example.com