By Tom Davis
Las Vegas, Nevada -- November 3, 2017 -- As SEMA comes to an end, Collision Repair magazine has created a roundup of some of the key announcements, product releases and awards that took place at the show.
More than 70,000 industry stakeholders descend on the SEMA Show in Las Vegas each year, in a week that is complete with educational seminars, product demonstrations, special events, networking opportunities and more. Some 3,000 newly introduced parts, tools and components were showcased at the exhibition, with collision repairers having the opportunity to connect with new associates as well as old friends.
This year's show seemed to go down well with both exhibitors and visitors alike. Don Morton of Don-Mor CARSTAR noted that the show seemed to be even busier than previous years. “It’s so busy that it’s almost too busy,” said Morton. “It's gotten to the point where you're walking the floor and there's no room to take pictures of cars. If anyone of any significance appears, like a builder, the walking simply stops and then there’s people on top of people.”
With both collision repairers and industry suppliers attending and exhibiting at the show, SEMA brings with it a whole host of new products and services launched. Here's a roundup of some of those...
The new product excitement kicked off on SEMA's first morning with the Best New Product Award. The annual ceremony recognizes outstanding achievements in the development of products being introduced to the automotive specialty-equipment market at the SEMA Show. Nearly 3,000 products were entered across 16 different categories. The complete list of winners can be viewed on our article covering the event. ALLDATA Collision Advantage won first place for the Collision Repair and Refinish award, with MiG Buddy and Avery Dennison finishing runners-up. Meanwhile, EZ Pulley won first in the Tools and Equipment category, with Huth Ben Pearson International Autolift Production coming in as runners-up.
Product releases were in full-force at the show. Techology was prevalent with NSF International, which specializes in product testing, auditing and certification, announcing the launch of its new automotive app: Vehicle Repair Connect. The app, which is now available on Apple App Store and Google Play, provides information on thousands of automotive parts, both certified and non-certified, as well as the ability to report problems about parts in what it calls a “few simple steps.”
Meanwhile, Mitchell made two “significant” announcements over the course of the show. First it launched Program Freedom, a system that encompasses the development of Mitchell's complete claims and repair platform and offers an open-systems alternative to systems that restrict data exchange and extract toll fees. It went on to announce that it has signed a strategic agreement with Repairify to integrate Repairify’s asTech diagnostic services and solutions with the Mitchell Diagnostics System. The company said the partnership will allow “joint customers to leverage an integrated solution that provides near 100 percent coverage of vehicles with a common document management system.”
In terms of tools, a spray gun themed after graphic novel heroes was launched by DeVilbiss. The TEKNA Vigilante was created to commemorate everyday heroes and pay tribute to the refinishing trade. Designed by Kristen Perry, a seasoned Seattle-based video game character developer, the spray gun was built on the technology of the company's popular TEKNA ProLite premium spray gun.
KNIPEX Tools announced the launch of its series of gripping pliers, which features universal, long-nose and welding gripping pliers. Speaking of the launch, Todd Shumate, president of KNIPEX Tools, said: “The heavy-duty KNIPEX gripping pliers series are designed to deliver powerful results, no matter the angle or workpiece. With their heavy-duty design, unique jaws and extensive gripping abilities, all three pliers will make a great addition to any tool box.”
With so many custom cars on display, the latest in paint technology was of course top of mind for many visitors. AkzoNobel was one of the company's to announce new paint products with the launch of Modern Classikk. The company partnered with hot rod builder Dave Kindig to create the line of 26 new colours. Kindig, who is also the host of “Bitchin’ Rides” on Discovery’s Velocity Channel, commented that he “fully expects that Modern Classikk will take its place as the premier brand for classic car builders around the world."
Color Compass Corporation was named Distributor of the Year at the Pro Spot Awards ceremony at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas. It was the company's third win of the award in a row, which it picked up for its product sales, customer service Ross Duncan, who accepted the award on behalf of Color Compass Corporation, said the win was a “big deal.”
An important event for students was the SEMA Career Day, which drew in over 40 companies and more than 450 students looking to get a head start in their automotive career. “This is important for what I want to do. It opens up a lot of opportunities. There’s a lot more to this [industry] than cars. I thought it was all one dimensional, simple work,” said Rueben Silva, a high school student of Lucerne Valley High School, speaking of the event.
In other news, the SEMA Show also offered an opportunity for collision repairers to learn more about current innovations and other business topics that can help them to run their business. Of particular interest for Canadian collision repairers was the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) – Repairer Driven Education Series. The seminars included talks such as Tom Shay's 'war on business' and Ken Boylan's talk on cutting edge technologies.
Drawing a big crowd as part of SEMA's seminar series was Todd Tracy's discussion on how to avoid a $42 million law suit. Tracy was the attorney responsible for the $42 million John Eagle Collision case, and offered his advice on how collision repairers can avoid getting hit with a lawsuit of their own. His top tips included following OEM repair specifications, not over-promising what your shop can deliver, reporting repairs and keeping a record of them and asking the customer to sign-off on any insurance company suggested repairs.
There was also a talk from Gavin Knapp of SEMA Market Research regarding the current trends in the off-road and truck sector. He said the industry is currently becoming muddled by confusion around correct terminologies from the media. "A lot of media uses the term truck when they mean CUV or crossover," said Knapp. “So be careful what you're consuming and what you're retweeting." Meanwhile, he added that according to SEMA market research, bricks-and-mortar shops need not worry too much about the influx of online stores, so long as they stay with the times.
Of particular interest for Canadian collision repairers at SEMA was the AIA's Canada Night. Held on October 31 at Caesars Palace, the organization's annual networking event offers Canadian repairers the opportunity to network with suppliers, vendors and other industry peers. It was a place where industry stakeholders could chat about current trends as well as catch up with old friends, and make new ones. More than 1,000 people from across the industry attended the event, which also helped raise money for the High Fives For Kids Foundation.
One event at the House of Kolor booth saw the company's unveiling of what it called a “flamboyant” custom milk truck. The company partnered with with hot rod and chopper customization shop Count's Kustoms. Ryan Evans, Lead Painter from Las Vegas-based Count’s Kustoms, led the customization job on a 954 DIVCO Model 13 truck. “Jon Kosmoski had a rendering from 1969 on a panel delivery truck,” commented Ryan Evans, Lead Painter at Count’s Kustoms. “It was a stunning design, lime green and root beer. I’m a 70s throwback, grew up in dragstrips, so the flamboyant paint design really spoke to me.”
SEMA 2017 was wrapped up with its official after party, SEMA Ignited. The closing of the show featured Mobil 1x Red Bull Racing experience with Formula 1 driver Max Verstappen, drifting demonstrations, music, entertainment, food, as well as the display of hundreds of vehicles from the SEMA Show. With a plethora of custom cars on display throughout SEMA, consumers, visitors and exhibitors alike were all eager to watch the SEMA Cruise. The cruise sees all of the custom cars, that have been on display throughout the show, paraded down the Vegas Strip before finally reaching SEMA Ignite.
Watch for a full report on the 2017 SEMA Show in the next issue of Collision Repair magazine.