From the President - October/November - 2018

Welcome to Expo 2018 and Las Vegas, Nevada!

For many people, Las Vegas is the entertainment capital of the world. All of the largest hotels and casinos are here. It’s become famous for its ability to separate you from your money while you enjoy it.

You may not know it, but the ATRA annual Powertrain Expo is the only event devoted exclusively to the transmission rebuilding industry, and it looks like this year will be the best Expo ever. I know I say that every year, but it seems like we just keep making Expo better.

What are the challenges we’re facing this year? Certainly, education is very important. We’re seeing more CVTs, more 6-, 8-, and 10-speeds. Electronics and control systems have become more difficult and time-consuming to diagnose. Repairing today’s units successfully has become more of a challenge.

Each year, I get to talk to a lot of shop owners and I do a number of shop visits. One of the more disturbing situations that I see is the number of shops looking for rebuilders. This summer, when I did my Albuquerque ATRA seminar, I was amazed when I found three shops that didn’t have any rebuilders. These are good shops that have been in business for a long time.

The question is, how are we going to replace these lost rebuilders? I don’t think we can rely on the schools. A lot of them no longer have auto classes or don’t teach transmission repair. Most of them can’t even get quality students.

Let’s look at our industry today: Nearly all shop owners are what is commonly referred to as Baby Boomers. We were born between 1946 and 1964. This means that, if you were born in 1946 and planned to retire at 65, you should have retired in 2011. If you’re on the tail end of the Baby Boomers, that is, born in 1964, you should be retiring in 2029. We were among first group to grow up genuinely expecting that the world was going to improve.

Now, we have the Millennials. What do they expect? These are the ones we need to educate and introduce to our industry. These are the ones who, when they have a question or want to learn something, they Google it. Their lives probably wouldn’t exist without a cell phone.

To meet their needs, we’re going to have to shift some of our training to web videos and other internet programs. I want to invite every attendee to come to the ATRA Member Meeting on Friday morning at 7:00am to discuss ideas for new rebuilders. I’ll be looking forward to having terrific attendance.

Okay, let’s get back to this year’s Expo. There have been some changes. Some classes will be starting on Wednesday and the event will end on Saturday night with the ATRA reception. The ATRA–Reybestos luncheon is on Friday and runs from noon to 2:00pm. We always have a guest speaker; this year’s speaker is sure to be very entertaining and will have everyone in stitches. Be sure to invite your spouse.

The trade show will open right after the luncheon, and it’ll stay open until 7:00pm. The vendors at the trade show work all year helping us make this event successful and they usually come to wheel and deal. Take the time to visit their booths and thank them.

Friday evening, from 7:00pm to 9:00pm, is the annual Transtar reception. Transtar puts a lot of effort toward making this event so popular. This is a must-attend event and everyone’s invited.

On Saturday, we’ll have classes all day. The trade show will open from 11:00am to 4:00pm. The ATRA long-timers meeting will begin at 3:00pm. Some people like to call this meeting the “old-timers” meeting, but seriously, everyone is invited. You never know: Sometimes even people like me can learn something new about a ’49 Cadillac or a ’54 Studebaker.

On Saturday evening, we’ll have the finale: the ATRA reception. Be there at 5pm; the show guide says reception ends at 7pm, but all I can say is, we’ll see!

Want to get a little more out of your trip to Vegas? Vanessa Velasquez has put together a list of attractions, such as the Mob Museum, Eldorado Canyon Mine Tour, Speed Vegas of Racing, and Dig This Vegas. And that’s in addition to the ATRA Golf Tournament. Ask for information on these tours at the registration booth.

I’m looking forward to seeing you here!

Jim Rodd, ATRA Board President