Automotive repair industry representatives, vendors, speakers and educators joined over 5,000 attendees at the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of New Jersey’s (AASP/NJ) NORTHEAST 2016 Automotive Services Show March 17-19 at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, N.J. The 39th version of the NORTHEAST show broke all previous records for attendance, booth space and seminar registration.
“I think for the first time in my life, I am kind of speechless,” said AASP/NJ President Jeff McDowell. “Leading up to the show, we all had a good feeling. There was definitely a buzz. But to see it turn out like this? Well, we couldn’t have predicted that in our wildest dreams. There were lines of attendees out the door and down the steps waiting to get in. We had to add two additional registration counters just to get everyone in. It was unbelievable. I’ve still got goosebumps.”
BASF topped off the guest list by bringing industry personality KC Mathieu, who spent the weekend with the crowds signing autographs and taking pictures. Mathieu also held a special Saturday afternoon luncheon/Q&A session for a group of 25 vocational students.
“First experience in New York/New Jersey! Having a great time, thanks for the great welcome,” Mathieu posted on his Facebook page. “Thanks to everyone again that came by to say hi and to the students I had the pleasure to speak with – you guys are awesome!”
Exhibitors were encouraged by the turnout.
“I couldn’t come up for air the whole show,” said Nick Mattera of Innovative Solutions and Technology/Pro Spot International. “The booth was constantly busy with technicians and shop owners.”
Honda’s Gary Ledoux added, “Traffic was awesome. It was outrageous. I couldn’t believe how many people were here.”
“This weekend was the most packed I have seen the show in a long time,” said Albert Kemperle’s David Green. “It was nice to see so many people from our industry in one place. We saw people from as far north as Maine and Rhode Island and as far south as Delaware. The speakers and the topics were all on point with the changes going on in the industry. I know that was part of the reason for the large crowds. Overall, it was a great show.”
Guido Pippa of Accudraft credits the show’s “outstanding” attendance as the key incentive to return every March.
“NORTHEAST really does a great job of bringing people out,” he said. “Year in and year out, we’re always impressed with what they do, how many people actually come out and how many serious buyers come to the show. Geographically, it’s definitely a great thing for us. It’s such a perfect venue.”
Sherwin-Williams Automotive NY/NJ Area Sales Manager Carmine Mirtuono added, “I thought last year’s show was one of the best ones that we’ve been a part of. But I’d say this year surpassed that.”
While he expanded his booth for 2016 in anticipation of heavy traffic, Keith Egan of R.W. Mallon/Collision Equipment Company was still impressed by how much attention his display received at this most recent NORTHEAST.
“We had a fantastic show this year,” he said. “In fact, our phones have been ringing off the hook every day since we got back.”
Egan, who expects to do six-figure business as a result of sales generated through the show, says that a positive experience was shared by everyone who worked to represent his company throughout the event.
After participating in NORTHEAST for 25 years, Axalta Business Development Manager James A. Powell still looks forward to exhibiting at the region’s largest event.
“It’s getting bigger and better every year, and more people are getting involved,” he said. “I’ve seen tags from Vermont, Maine and Pennsylvania. This is growing, and we’re glad we’re part of it.”
According to McDowell, AASP/NJ is ready to take the next step at the NORTHEAST 2017 show.
“We’ve dreamed about it. We’ve talked about it. Now I think it may be time to do it,” he said, referring to the show’s expansion to a second level of the Meadowlands Exposition Center.