Gumbo. Crawfish. Beignets. Zydeco music. Beads. Mardi Gras. These are some of the things that come to mind when you think about New Orleans, or “N’awlins” as the locals call it. Not pronouncing it “N’awlins” would label you an outsider as much as saying “Ore-GON” instead of “Ore-GIN,” or “LOU-EE-ville” instead of “LOO-UH-ville” would. However you say it, collision repairers are bound to have a wild time as they go marching in to the 2012 International Autobody Congress & Exposition (NACE), which will be held in the “Big Easy” Oct. 10-13.
Maybe it’s the fact that NACE is the biggest all-collision trade show in the country. Or maybe it’s people’s hankering for a po’boy. Whatever the case, reports are that housing is up 62 percent over last year, and the CARS section of the floor (mechanical) has doubled in size from 2011.
If it’s training your troops that you’re after, NACE is the place. With more than 80 educational sessions being offered, you’re sure to find the topics you need to brush up on.
If you need to reinforce to your staff the importance of customer service, how about treating them to “It’s Not About the Car! A Customer Service Review” by Bob Keith of CARSTAR on Wednesday, Oct. 10 from 8:30-10 a.m.?
Are you closing less than 50 percent of your customer-pay business? Then you could probably stand to take “Improving Closing Ratio on Customer Pay Work” by Robert Rick of Gates and Steve Trapp of DuPont on Wednesday, Oct. 10 from 8:30-11 a.m.
Are you trying to figure out why the new Generation Y-er wants to do things his way in your shop and not your way? You better not miss “Can’t We All Just Get Along?” by Bill Haas of Haas Performance Consulting LLC on Wednesday, Oct. 10 from 3-4:30 p.m.
If it’s technical training you want, then look no further than the I-CAR Technology Showcase. I-CAR will provide 11 training classes Wednesday, Oct. 10, through Friday, Oct. 12. Each instructor-led (live) class will last four hours. Online registration is available for $93/course at www.ASRWevents.com.
I-CAR is a long-standing supporter of ASRW and will return to the event this year with some of its newest training, such as its Blueprinting Process and Damage Discovery (BLU01) course. During this “live demo” course, students will learn how blueprinting can lead to more accurate damage assessments and gain insights into applying the blueprinting process in their own shop environments. The live demo will include the disassembly of a vehicle and steps to discover hidden damage.
The blueprinting course will take place Thursday, Oct. 11, and Friday, Oct. 12, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on the ASRW show floor and will have a maximum of 15 students per session. The course costs $100/student, and registration is available online.
The I-CAR sessions offered at ASRW 2012 include:
Wednesday, Oct. 10
8 a.m.-12 p.m. – Inspecting Repairs for Quality Control (QUA01)
1 p.m.-5 p.m. – Corrosion Protection (CPS01) / Hazardous Materials, Personal Safety and Refinish Safety (WKR01)
Thursday, Oct. 11
8 a.m.-12 p.m. – Automotive Foams (FOM01) / Measuring (MEA01)
10 a.m.-3 p.m. – Blueprinting Process and Damage Discovery (BLU01)
1 p.m.-5 p.m. – Steel Unitized Structures Technologies and Repair (SPS07)
Friday, Oct. 12
8 a.m.-12 p.m. – Overview of Cycle Time Improvements for Collision Repair (CYC01) / Steering and Suspension Damage Analysis (DAM06)
10 a.m.-3 p.m. – Blueprinting Process and Damage Discovery (BLU01)
1 p.m.-5 p.m. – Structural Straightening Steel (SSS01)
Back by popular demand will be the MSO Symposium, which last year was a sold-out success. It will be held Oct. 12 at the Morial Convention Center and will be open to shop owners with two or more shops. Cost is $100.
Tailored to multiple-shop operators, the NACE guide says it will “provide high-end content to an exclusive group of high-end buyers.” And it has more than 12 sponsors to date.
One of the presentations will see a return of the leaders of the largest company-owned MSOs in North America (the “Big 4”) to provide an update on their business and take a deep dive into their approach to developing their leadership teams, growth strategy and future vision.
The schedule of events is as follows:
8:30-8:45 a.m. – Welcome and opening comments
8:45-9:45 a.m. – Developing a Sustainable Culture
A panel discussion presented by Marcy Tieger, Symphony Advisors. Guest panelists will include: Andrew Taylor, chairman and CEO, Enterprise Holdings; Pam Nicholson, president and COO, Enterprise Holdings; and Christine Taylor, assistant vice president, Enterprise Holdings.
9:45-10:45 a.m. – Strategic Brand Development: Differentiate Through Innovation
Facilitated by: David Lingham, IBIS conference director
Guest speaker: Sasha Strauss, founder and CEO, Innovation Protocol; Professor, University of Southern California
10:45-11:15 a.m. – Networking break
11:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m. – Building Lasting Business Relationships Through Performance
A panel discussion presented by Matthew Ohrnstein, Symphony Advisors. Guest panelists will include automobile physical damage claims executives from the industry’s top insurance companies.
12:30-1:30 p.m. – Lunch
1:30-2:45 p.m. – What a Difference a Year Makes
A panel discussion presented by Matthew Ohrnstein, Symphony Advisors. Guest panelists will include: Steve Grimshaw, CEO, Caliber Collision Centers; Chris Abraham, president, Service King Collision Centers; Duane Rouse, CEO, ABRA Auto Body & Glass; Brock Bulbuck, president and CEO, The Boyd Group.
2:45-3:15 p.m. – Networking break
3:15-4:30 p.m. – Show Me the Money: Private Equity’s View of the Collision Repair Industry
A panel discussion presented by Rex Green, BB&T Capital Markets, head of consumer group. Guest panelists will include various private equity firms. Discussion topics will include:
• Current state of the financial markets
• Why are investors attracted to the collision repair space?
• Why raise private equity?
• What are the key business attributes required to raise private equity?
• What is the process to raise private equity?
• How are valuations derived?
• What happens after the private equity transaction?
4:30-4:45 p.m. – Closing comments
4:45-7 p.m. – Networking reception
Sights and Sounds
There’s no escaping the French Quarter on a visit to NOLA. A staple of the town, it’s a bit of the past preserved with historic buildings and unique shops and restaurants. By day, it’s a charming place to take a stroll, but come night, it’s packed with partyers. Regardless, it’s entertaining at any time of day. Grab a po’boy and dig in.
Bourbon Street is a segment of the French Quarter that serves as the epicenter of nightlife. Between the lax open container laws, abundance of bars and plenty of strip clubs, this area certainly has its temptations. If drunken debauchery isn’t your style, visit one of the many restaurants or jazz clubs on the strip and people-watch from afar.
If you’re looking for something subtler than Bourbon Street, then Royal Street’s the place to be. This section of the French Quarter is filled with quaint shops, elegant art galleries and aspiring jazz musicians. Throw a street performer a chunk of change and stop by one of the street’s world-renowned restaurants or antique shops.
Adorned with elaborate mansions and big, beautiful gardens, the Garden District offers a nice change of pace from the hustle and bustle of Bourbon Street. This area housed the Nouveau Riche back in the 1800s and now serves as the residence of several celebrities. Take the St. Charles street car there, then admire (and maybe envy) the digs of Sandra Bullock and John Goodman.
For liquor aficionados, the Old New Orleans Rum Distillery is a place to get your drink on without the chaos of Bourbon Street. Pay a small fee for a tour to see the rum-making process firsthand. Afterwards, you can taste a variety of the distillery’s finest spirits. Just be sure to get a ride back!
If you’re a history buff, then a visit to Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar is a must. Reportedly the oldest bar in America, this watering hole was built in the early 1700s and allegedly served as a base for pirate Jean Lafitte’s smuggling operation.
Central Grocery is a restaurant and deli located in the French Quarter. It’s famous for inventing the muffuletta — a gargantuan sub sandwich with layers of marinated olive salad, cheese and spiced Italian meats. One is big enough for two people, so bring a friend and share the love.
923 Decatur Street
As its name suggests, the Napoleon House was once offered to the emperor as shelter during his exile. Though he never actually made the visit, the 215-year-old building welcomes artists, writers and bar-hoppers year round with its inviting, sophisticated atmosphere.
500 Chartres Street
Clover Grill is open 24 hours to satisfy all your late night cravings. The chefs cook their burgers under hubcaps and are also known for making a killer omelet. Just don’t fall asleep at the table waiting for your food — you’ll miss out.
900 Bourbon Street
While its food isn’t characteristically New Orleans, Pat O’Brien’s is home to the hurricane cocktail — a libation that’s as local as the muffuletta and as dangerous as its namesake.
718 Saint Peter Street