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Automotive Service Association (ASA) President Ron Pyle told reporters at the closing press conference for the 2009 International Autobody Congress & Exposition (NACE) that he was overall quite pleased with attendance.
Before the show opened, attendance was expected to be down 20 percent, but Pyle said due to strong on-site registration, the drop was only 8 percent. Last year, roughly 22,000 people attended the show, whereas this year attendance was closer to 20,000.
Other numbers reported include:
- 120,000 net sq. ft. of exhibition space (90,000 sq. ft of booth space, 25,000-30,000 sq. ft other)
- 330 exhibitors
- 83 educational sessions (36 NACE, 26 CARS, 21 all segments)
- 1,250 attendants of Charles “Sully” Sullenberger’s keynote address (strongest audience in five years)
- 1,200 registrants for conference sessions (down 10 percent from last year)
Breaking news included Pyle saying a new contract was signed with Hanley Wood, the company that produces NACE for ASA, for 2010. Apparently, an employee shakeup at Hanley Wood prompted ASA to revisit the contract, and the two parties agreed to renegotiate.
When asked if a merger with the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) was a possibility, a representative from Hanley Wood said, “Why would we do that?” The implication was that SEMA is an entirely different show with different customers who might dilute and weaken NACE.
Pyle said NACE saw more attendees “from the other end of the street” than it had over the past several years, speculating that there “wasn’t as much to see” at the other show.
As far as possibly moving NACE to another city, Pyle said it definitely will be in Las Vegas again for 2010 due to contractual obligations, but there is flexibility for 2011 and beyond. He did say that the relationship with Mandalay Bay has been excellent and the show will be in Las Vegas “as long as it performs well.”
“By coming [to Las Vegas], we shored up our attendance,” Pyle said. “If we continued rotating, we would be in dire straits.”
In response to rumors of the show running out of steam, Pyle admitted that “every show has a life cycle” but that there is an obligation to put this show on.
“[Putting on this show] is not just to preserve a revenue stream for ASA,” Pyle said. “Ninety percent of our exhibitors can’t afford two shows. This show makes their year.”
Pyle emphasized that NACE has the most powerful, comprehensive track of training in the collision repair industry and said that the fact that it’s the largest collision show in the world “can’t be overlooked.” In response to dwindling international attendance (less than 10 percent), Pyle said limited resources have contributed to that problem.