These are challenging times. I started in the transmission business in 1980 as an installer after being in auto repair since 1968, working in gas stations, and have been the owner of Dave Wilkes Transmissions in Ventura, CA, since 1993. In the October 2016 edition of GEARS Magazine that featured my shop, one thing I said was, “The only thing that stays the same is nothing stays the same.” At that time, I was talking about the new technology being used in today’s cars. What has been going on lately makes that a major understatement. Hopefully, you are staying safe, and I am sorry for those that have not been so lucky.
Even though COVID-19 restrictions forced the Opry Land Convention Center in Nashville to cancel last year’s Expo, we were still able to provide you with a virtual tradeshow. This year, the live Expo is back! We were hopeful that it would be like past Expos, but the latest prevailing conditions have presented barriers for some of our members and suppliers to participate.
For you who can make it to Vegas, I am sure you will reconnect with old friends and make new friends. The camaraderie from hanging out with other tranny guys is the intangible part of Expo. Those that have attended in the past know what I mean. Those who are here for the first time will find out what I am talking about. While it’s still not the same as Expos of years past, it will feel more normal than the virtual event. You’ll be able to join in the camaraderie you’ve come to enjoy, and the training will be state-of-the-art, as always. The smaller size will allow you to spend more time with the vendors and with your fellow attendees.
We at ATRA have made it our mission to explore new methods for conducting business. ATRA is still the leader in transmission tech and shop-management education. Lance Wiggins and the tech team continue to advance tech training with breakthrough delivery systems like The University Project, tech information on our website, tech articles in GEARS, and of course, the tech hotline. Additionally, we’ve enjoyed great success with our Live Seminars or Virtual Seminars in locations as COVID restrictions have been reduced.
Likewise, through our Virtual Training Solutions (VTS) program, we’ve continued to provide state-of-the-art, timely tech and management training. The quality of VTS is of such high caliber that hundreds of technical training schools and colleges have joined ATRA’s ranks and have integrated our VTS programs into their curriculum.
You may recall that last year we sold our old International Business Office building in Oxnard, California. As an element of our rethinking for the future, ATRA purchased a 15,000 square foot building in China Grove, Texas, just outside of San Antonio. This will be the new home of the ATRA International Business Office. While we’re renting and still occupying the old space, we’ve begun planning a remodel that will feature technical research and training facilities.
The San Antonio area also provides other benefits – a geographically more centralized location, more time zone friendly for all members, lower real estate cost, the fun “Riverwalk Experience” for visitors, and much easier access by air with less cost for flights.
I would like you to be sure to attend the members’ meeting. We want to hear from you and get your ideas on how ATRA can grow and change in these changing times. We need to offer training to train new and current technicians and offer it in new ways. The younger generations like to learn on their phones. Travel is not for everyone, even before Covid. Maybe more virtual events in local areas that are possible with new technology… etc. Give us your ideas; we want to deliver what you need in a way you would like. One way is for everyone to help ATRA improve and change with the times.