Las Vegas is known in some circles as “Sin City,” yet this improbable outcropping of neon, skin and cash labored hard a few years ago to change its image. “Don’t worry,” the city winked to parents, “we’re different now – we’re the ‘family friendly’ vacation destination. C’mon out and bring the kids!”
Well, Las Vegas has stopped pretending. You’re not asked to bring the kids anymore, just their college fund. “What Happens Here, Stays Here,” is the city’s new motto, and judging by what I saw being handed over at the gaming tables during the 2004 AERA New Products Show-case, held last month at the Riviera Hotel, most of what was staying in Las Vegas was hard-earned cash.
What WAS being taken home seems to be much more valuable than cash. Attendees at the very successful Showcase were in a great position to talk to their suppliers, association leaders and business colleagues about how to make their successful businesses even more so.
Interesting panel discussions on the sport compact performance market, the engine installation market, and the heavy duty market were peppered with questions about real-world solutions to nagging issues. A seminar on advanced machining technologies helped familiarize attendees with some of the capabilities of the newest equipment. A very well attended session on women in the rebuilding industry reinforced that this isn’t just a man’s business today.
Bob Greenwood, president and CEO of the Automotive E-Learning Centre in Ontario, Canada, presented a 2-1/2-hour seminar on “Financial and Operational Management of a Machine Shop.” He served up more useful information in that non-stop presentation than most shop owners had probably heard in their career.
That was just in the seminars. The show floor, too, for many hours was buzzing with exitement and activity.
Perhaps George Anderson, owner of Gessford Machine Shop, Hastings, NE, summed it up best. After I presented Anderson, a long-time AERA member with Engine Builder’s award for the 2004 Machine Shop of the Year, he said that, for all his years of membership, he had never before attended any industry trade show.
“I never saw the benefit in it,” he admits. “Seemed like I could be more productive back in the shop. If my suppliers needed to talk to me, they knew where I was. But I’m overwhelmed by how much I was able to take back with me from this Showcase. I will definitely be back next time to get more.” Viva Las Vegas!
Doug Kaufman is the editor of Engine Builder magazine, and thanks everyone who stopped by for a piece of cake at the booth during the AERA New Products Showcase.