Collision community gathers for a lucky St. Pat’s weekend in New Jersey

Story by MAX REID

As the North American automotive aftermarket collectively wakes from winter hibernation it would appear that enthusiasm for industry events has not waned one bit, as the AASP/NJ’s Northeast 2023 Automotive Services Show went off without a hitch on St. Patrick’s Day weekend. Featuring a trade show floor packed with familiar faces from across the collision industry, educational sessions from some of those same experts, and even a friendly bodywork skills competition, this year’s Northeast show had something for everyone. Collision industry mainstays, like BETAG, AirPro Diagnostics, Axalta, CARSTAR, AkzoNobel, Car-o-Liner and KECO Body Repair, all exhibited their products on the Northeast show floor this year.

Charles Aoun, CEO of Quebec-based CamAuto Pro, told Collision Repair that this year’s show was a true return to form following several years of postponement and poor attendance, on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I believe things are getting back to how they were in previous years,” he said. “Northeast is the second-biggest show after SEMA, especially for collision repair, so that is why we come.”

Aoun said that his company had its entire suite of products on display for show-goers to take for a spin.

“We did a glue-pulling demo on a used door. We made sure to let everyone use, touch and feel the glue pull tools so that they know how they work.”

Fellow players in the paintless dent repair space, KECO Body Repair was also in attendance at Northeast, displaying its own line of fine dent-pulling products.

“The main thing we were demonstrating was our Level 2E glue pull repair system. Our lateral tension tool, which is also pretty popular, is really a system in of itself,” said Scott Stayton, KECO’s director of marketing and portfolio management.

“Basically, what it does is apply lateral tension away from the damaged area, making it very easy to restore the damage as close as possible [to pre-collision condition] and be ready for paint.”

For KECO, the trip to Secaucus actually proved rather convenient, despite the 20 hour drive from home base in Oklahoma, as Stayton said the team managed to squeeze in a few extra training sessions at some technical institutions along the way.

The show’s main stage was graced by influential collision industry experts, like Chuck Olsen from AirPro Diagnostics, who spoke on ADAS procedures and how to get paid for them; Mike Anderson from Collision Advice, who offered up proven negotiation tactics for shop managers; and Tim Morgan from Spanesi Americas, who delivered best practices on effective pre-repair planning, to name a few.

On the technician side of things, this year’s Northeast show saw the debut of the Bodywork Bowl Skills Competition for welders, painters and estimators. Technicians squared off for $500 cash prizes in a variety of collision repair competitions, including a virtual reality painting competition where the top three winners also came away with gift bags from AkzoNobel.

Additionally, winners of the welding competition received, in addition to cash prizes, a new welding mask and smart TV donated by Spanesi Americas, with the top performing tech earning a brand new welding unit.

The AASP/NJ’s Northeast 2023 Automotive Services Show ran from March 17 to 19 at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, New Jersey.



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