Deja Vous Vous

Posted by Kathleen Schmatz on August 09, 2011

While doing a bit of “summer cleaning” at the office, I unearthed the September 1988 issue of the APAA Report, featuring  the 20th Annual APAA Show. Hmmmm. Twenty-three years later, I wondered what had changed with “show biz.” The answer is “a lot” and “only a little.”

That anniversary APAA show boasted “over 1,000” exhibitors. This year’s AAPEX show has 1,825 so far. Those exhibitors met buyers in the aisles of Chicago’s McCormick Place. Today we have Vegas, baby! Then, there were special sections featuring products for performance, vans, light trucks, retails support services and international products. Today, international exhibitors are a huge percentage of AAPEX. The buyer target then was chains, jobbers and warehouse distributors. Ditto now. Legendary coach Pat Riley spoke at the opening breakfast, today AAIA will feature legendary stock picker Mario Gabelli. In 1988, “The Temptations” rocked the industry-wide dinner. Today, many, many attendees don’t take the time for dinner. 

Then, the biggest symposium topic was mergers and acquisitions. Ditto. APAA was offering members special prices on fax equipment and fax paper (remember those weird cactus on the back of that paper and the very dark color the paper turned if left on an in-house heating unit?). The unemployment rate was 5.4 percent. Industrial production was way up. New car sales were blazing hot.

Then, the Coalition for Auto Repair Choice (CARC) parked its locked hood car in the thick of APAA Show traffic. Stationed next to the car was a “special delivery” mailbox for aftermarket messages to Congress. And, as attendees left McCormick Place, they were reminded that the 41st Annual Pacific Automotive Show was only five months away, in February, in Reno. Whew.

Keywords: aapex, events