Several hours prior to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy declaring a state of emergency due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of New Jersey (AASP/NJ) announced that their flagship event, NORTHEAST 2020, would be rescheduled from March 20-22 to Aug. 21-23 at the Meadowlands Exposition Center (MEC) in Secaucus, N.J.
In a statement released on Monday, March 9, AASP/NJ said: “Amid coronavirus concerns throughout the tri-state area, and growing difficulty in attendees’ ability to attend our event, it became inevitable to reschedule this year’s show dates for the safety and well-being of all parties involved in the NORTHEAST show.”
Tuesday morning, AASP/NJ President Jerry McNee expanded on the group’s decision.
“When [New York] Governor Cuomo announced on Saturday that they were declaring a state of emergency, we immediately began discussions regarding this year’s NORTHEAST show,” said McNee. “We were pretty sure that New Jersey would soon follow, and so first thing Monday morning, we began reaching out to vendors and member shops to see what their thoughts were. Needless to say, we weren’t surprised when everyone we contacted felt that it would be best to reschedule the show for later in the year. Our top priority is always the safety of our attendees, exhibitors and supporters, and we felt that we just couldn’t take the chance that someone might become infected at our show.”
AASP/NJ has had the backup date of August since the outbreak began.
“Thankfully, the MEC had a few open dates available for us to choose from,” said McNee. “We wanted to make sure it was far enough in the future so that the COVID-19 danger would pass, but not so far as to be too close to SEMA. We also felt that August would work for us since NORTHEAST is predominantly a ‘drive-to’ show as opposed to a ‘fly-to’ show.
“Besides, who wouldn’t want to be in New Jersey in the summertime? At NORTHEAST, you get the best in collision industry education and training. You get to see the best in equipment, paint and tools…and you’re three minutes away from the brand-new American Dream indoor theme park, ski slope and water park, 10 minutes from Times Square and 45 minutes from the Jersey shore.”
McNee says that AASP/NJ understands the concerns of the attendees and exhibitors of the NORTHEAST show.
“There wouldn’t be any other reason other than an act of God that we would reschedule. But this was all about keeping everyone who comes to the show safe and worry-free, and we want to thank everyone for their patience and understanding. This year is an anomaly. Next year, we will return to the third week in March as always. But that won’t stop the NORTHEAST show from continuing the amazing growth it has maintained since we returned to New Jersey back in 2009. We apologize for any inconvenience but we are excited and look forward to seeing over 6,000 industry professionals the weekend of Aug. 21.”
Pre-registered NORTHEAST attendees will not need to re-register, as badge data will be carried over to the new dates of Aug. 21-23.
For updates and information on NORTHEAST, visit aaspnjnortheast.com.