The 2021 Powertrain Expo is a wrap. It was held in Las Vegas at Bally’s from October 13th through 16th. I think it’s an understatement to say that Expo was a surprising success for all who took part.
Frankly, with all the negative media reports regarding the strict COVID protocols in Vegas and with the airlines leading up to Expo, most of us at ATRA had lowered our expectations. Preregistrations were way down from years past, and many vendors pulled out because of travel restrictions imposed by their corporate leadership. Canadians were MIA due to extreme travel restrictions between Canada and the US. For the several weeks leading up to it, “Let’s just get through this year’s Expo and put it to bed” was a common sentiment.
However, your ATRA and GEARS team didn’t let the prevailing circumstances tarnish our enthusiasm and professional commitment. Once we arrived in Vegas, the push was on, and we were fully engaged in making the show the best it could be for those who invested the time and money to come.
As it turned out, while still off typical levels, attendance exceeded our expectations. Show attendees and vendors alike brought great attitudes and were serious about why they were there – to learn, share, and make new acquaintances. Every person and vendor I spoke with expressed essentially the same thought, “This is one of the best Expos, ever!”
As the old expression goes, quality often trumps quantity. Yes, the numbers were lower, but the more intimate setting gave everyone a greater opportunity to partake in conversations, participate in the seminar sessions, and spend time with the vendors on and off the tradeshow floor.
All technical and management seminar sessions were well-attended. In some cases, seats were hard to find, and more chairs were brought in to accommodate the number of attendees. The presenters didn’t hold back on their excitement as they presented their materials to the information-hungry crowd. And the attendees were well-fed as the meaty presentations proceeded seamlessly and on schedule.
One noteworthy observation was that the audience members were particularly receptive and eager to participate with questions and comments during and after the sessions. The enthusiasm was contagious and steadily grew as the Expo progressed.
To recap each session would consume too much of the space allocated for this article. However, I have nothing but praise for each of the presenters. The technical presenters included Dan Marinucci, Sean Boyle, Garrett Herning, Kent Meckfessel, Steve Garrett, Niel Speetjens, Bob Warnke, John Parmenter, Mike Cargill, Joe Rivera, Bill Brayton, and Keith Clark. What a slate of technical experts!
The management sessions were equally informational, with attendees being motivated by the fantastic lineup of speakers. The management speakers included Rodger Bland, Dennis Madden, Ted Janusz, Maryann Croce, Maylan Newton, and Thom Tschetter.
This year’s management slate also featured a special roundtable discussion led by Tiffany Sherado of Lifetime Transmissions and an organization called Amazing Women in Automotive. The roundtable was called “Women in the Auto Industry – Supporting, Recruiting, and Retaining them.” It focused on the fact that women are vital to our industry not only as customers but also as an untapped labor resource.
The tradeshow floor was visibly smaller, and the absence of the historically large booths and several vendors was noticeable. However, after taking just a few steps into the aisles, those thoughts vanished. There were plenty of vendor representatives eager to spend time with attendees in the quieter, less rushed setting. Every vendor reported that they felt their time at this year’s Expo was a tremendous success.
The Capital Core Reception on Friday night was remarkable! The food quality and food service, together with the wonderful variety of alcohol and non-alcohol beverage choices, made a hit with all who came. Again, smaller numbers meant more opportunities to renew old and make new acquaintances. We all had a terrific time!
The good gets even better! In anticipation that many shops could not attend this year’s Expo, your ATRA and GEARS team prepared a special surprise for you. We arranged to video all the technical and management seminar presentations. So, those of you who were there can relive it, and those of you who couldn’t make it can experience it. The videos are being edited at the time of this writing, and they’ll be available soon.
Thanks to all of you who took part in the 2021 ATRA Powertrain Expo. We look forward to next year’s Expo with high expectations and excitement.