For the folks attending the technical seminars, it was a busy event, with nearly 24 hours of technical training packed into a four-day extravaganza. It began at 8am Thursday morning, and the seminars kept going until 6pm, with an hour break for lunch.
The seminars covered a wide range of subjects, including diagnostic procedures, computer reprogramming, and details on specific transmissions and systems. Management started later, as management often does. They kicked off at 3pm with a seminar from GEARS Managing Editor Rodger Bland, offering a new approach to successful thinking. He was followed by Danny Sanchez, who talked about updating your web presence for mobile applications.
The seminars ended together and everyone got together for a welcome reception of pizza and ice cream, hosted by ATRA. It was a chance for those in attendance to reconnect with old friends and catch up in an atmosphere of camaraderie.
The morning began at 8am with the annual ATRA Member Meeting, where Members got a chance to hear about ATRA’s plans for the future and weigh in on programs they’d like ATRA to tackle in the year ahead. The tech seminars cranked up again at 8am, with a seminar on rebuild tips and tricks, followed by a seminar on ZF diagnostics Management seminars began at 9am, with the return of Bill Hass who spoke about the value of adding an apprentice/mentor program to your business. He was followed by GEARS Contributing Editor Thom Tschetter, who discussed his cure for entrepreneurial split personality disorder.
These seminars led into the annual ATRA luncheon, hosted as always by Raybestos Powertrain. It opened with the event’s keynote speaker, Jeff Havens, who kept the audience in stitches as he cleared up the confusion between the various generations within the business world. Turns out it was way simpler — and funnier! — than anyone might have suspected. Immediately afterward, ATRA presented its Distinguished Supplier Award for 2016 to TransTec for their ongoing support for ATRA’s training programs and industry service. GEARS International Sales Manager Frank Pasley presented the award to TransTec’s Senior Marketing Manager Patty Richards and Aftermarket Sales Manager John Galloway. Raybestos also announced the winners of the Race with Raybestos competition. There were three firstprize winners: Jim Coehlo, Ben Pippin, and Justin Griffiths. All three received a trip for two to Expo.
Unfortunately, Justin was unable to attend due to flight delays. Raybestos also drew the winning name for their grand prize: the Ferrari Driving Experience from SPEEDVEGAS. And the winner was Jim Coehlo! Congratulations to all the Race with Raybestos winners! After the awards, everyone enjoyed a sumptuous lunch and then those in attendance moved on to the opening of the trade show. The trade show bustled with activity, and everyone seemed pleased with the turnout.
The ATRA Chapter Planning Meeting took place at 4pm and was well attended. Then everyone got together for an evening of hors d’oeuvres, drinks, and music at the annual Transtar Cocktail Reception. Those in attendance were treated to an oldies band and the festivities went on until 9pm.
Saturday marked the introduction of an entirely new program for Expo: Transmissions 101. This was a series of three distinct seminars — R&R 101, Diagnostics 101, and Transmissions 101 — targeted to the entry-level technician or industry educator.
Each seminar presented the fundamentals necessary for anyone hoping to begin a career in the transmission repair industry. And ATRA provided free attendance for young people and educators who wanted to take part in the program. While Transmissions 101 was going on, the regular technical and management seminars began. Tech covered scan tool diagnostics, driveability, and network communications. The management seminar began with something old and something new: Longtime ATRA seminar presenter Maylan Newton brought his son, Chase, to help everyone get a firsthand look at the different mindsets between the oldtimers and the millennials. It was an eye-opening presentation for everyone.
They were followed by GEARS Contributing Editor Alex Goldfayn, who offered his insights for revenue growth. At noon, the trade show floor opened again. At 2pm, ATRA Technical Director Lance Wiggins hosted an Education to Industry Summit, which gave those in attendance an opportunity to learn what ATRA was doing to help introduce new technicians to the industry and offer their suggestions. At 3pm, the Burgundy room was filled with the smell of BENGAY and creaking joints as the ATRA Longtimers got together for their annual meeting.
Sunday morning, those who remained on hand were treated to a buffet breakfast and an industry callto-arms — All Hands on Deck: Building a Winning Shop — hosted by ATRA’s Lance Wiggins and ATRA’s Strategic Advisor Jim Cathcart. Jim was his usual, engaging self, and he peppered his presentation with original songs, accompanying himself on guitar. It was a powerful and heartwarming ending to an amazing four days.
If you didn’t make it to Expo this year, well, that ship has sailed. But, unlike so many other opportunities, it will knock again. Because next year, once again, Paris is for Expo! Just 11 months from now, next year’s Expo will take place at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, on the world-famous Strip. And next year’s show will be a week earlier — October 19–22, 2017. So if you’ve been avoiding Expo so you can be home to celebrate Halloween, well, you have no more excuses: Start making your plans now to join us next year in Paris!