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Thursday, 29 May 2014 23:56

Texas Independent Automotive Association and the Texas Tire Dealers Association Host First Annual Tire and Automotive Expo

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The Texas Independent Automotive Association (TIAA) and the Texas Tire Dealers Association (TTDA) collaborated to hold the 2014 Tire and Automotive Expo at the Town Square Marriott in Sugar Land, TX, April 23–25, 2014. The expo marked the first time these two industries came together for a single event in Texas, and Chuck Space, executive director of both TIAA and TTDA, believes “it was a great event. Our endeavors proved very successful.”

Around 42 exhibitors and sponsors supported the associations’ efforts, and approximately 200 attendees showed up for three days of networking, educational seminars, and visiting vendors on the expo floor. Space notes that a lot of emphasis was placed on developing a strong educational program because “it’s important to keep members up-to-date on what’s going on in the industry to help them improve their businesses and be better at what they do.”

The event began on April 23, 2014, with a golf tournament, which attracted nearly 70 golfers. That evening, TIAA and TTDA held a Welcome Reception that allowed attendees time to socialize and network with their peers. The expo floor opened on the morning of April 24, 2014, as the associations welcomed attendees to the convention, opening with the “Star-Spangled Banner” sung by Paul Dvorak. The first seminar was a “Texas Legislative Update,” provided by Texas State Representative Rick Miller, followed by “Marketing 101” with Kevin Rohlwings of TIAA. Next, Mike Filipek of Bridgestone Firestone USA and Mark Alvarez of ACDelco presented “What’s New In Auto Technology.”

At 10:30 am, the women in attendance enjoyed a Ladies’ Special Event at the Turquoise Grill and Pinot’s Palette. The morning’s seminar concluded with “Labor/Immigration for the Small Business” by attorney Peter Dawn of Monty & Partners, followed by an “Auto Industry Update” presented by Ken Brown, President of TIAA. Attendees then took a break for lunch and dessert with exhibitors before gathering for the afternoon’s educational offerings.

The educational portion of the conference resumed at 1:30 pm with “Is Your Business ‘Fiscally Fit’,” a discussion led by Amy Johnston and Brent Gibson of Cooper Tire and Rubber. At 2:30 pm, seven Rapid Roundtables were held simultaneously on a variety of important industry issues, allowing attendees to choose their topics and rotate between tables. Topics included an Obamacare Update, National Legislation, Fiscally Fit Business, New Auto Technology for Tires, New Auto Technology for Auto Repair, Labor and Immigration, and Guerrilla Marketing.

At 3:30 pm, attendees enjoyed happy hour at the Tire and Auto Expo, followed by an evening of fun, food, fellowship, and prizes at dinner and during Casino Night.

The morning of April 24, 2014, began with private demos and scheduled meetings with clients in the expo area, followed by a buffet breakfast. At 8:30 am, TTDA held their annual membership meeting where they presented their 2014 Scholarship Awards and held officer elections. At the same time, TIAA held their annual member meeting and also elected officers. At 9:30 am, Garrison Wynn, nationally-recognized and revered keynote speaker, presented “Survive and Thrive,” a seminar meant to motivate and provide valuable insight for small business owners.

Space notes that the agenda for the expo was full of business topics because “small business owners wear a lot of hats, and it’s difficult to watch everything so we tried to focus on topics to help them monitor important benchmarks so they can improve their businesses.” The feedback from attendees has been positive.

David Bipper of Lone Star Radiator Co, Inc. in San Antonio, TX, said “the 2014 Texas Tire and Automotive Expo was a great success. The event was held at very comfortable and visitor-friendly facility. The expo had a perfect mix of educational and informative speakers, along with an array of events to socialize. The seminars were jointly informative to both groups attending the expo. I enjoyed the event due to coming back with information to implement into my business and the opportunity to network with fellow business owners and vendors. I look forward to next year’s event and will encourage others in our association to attend and enjoy themselves.”

“Attending the TIAA convention was a wise decision once again for me,” says Mike Koebke of GusMann Automotive. “Being able to take advantage of the training classes and also being able to network with other leaders in our industry is a huge advantage for the continued growth of my business. Other automotive businesses that do not make the time to learn and grow by attending events like this will be left behind as our industry continues to change rapidly.”

Gary and Darla Pundt from Alamo Heights Garage contributed, “there were many great things about the TIAA convention and Tire and Automotive expo this year. Speakers, location, social events, and casino night was a blast. If I had to pin it down to the most valuable things I took away from it for my business, I would have to say the keynote speaker talking about our perceptions and expectations when dealing with the younger generation. It really brought out our own flaws in our way of thinking and dealing with customers and employees who grew up with very different life experiences. We can’t try to mold them into understanding and being productive the way ‘we’ would necessarily do it. I’ve already witnessed that truth a dozen times since we have been back between customers, our employees, and even our own families. The second thing was kudos to the vendors who came out to support TIAA. We were in need of some new equipment, and David Burch with Carquest was there with just what we needed in addition to offering a trade show special. They allowed us to demo it in our shop when we got back and made a pretty sizable sale. I think the marrying of TIAA with the Texas Tire Dealers Association for the event worked great. We met new people who deal with a lot of the same issues that we do and are looking forward to it next year.”

With 2014 being the first Tire and Automotive Expo in Texas, Space feels it was very successful with a great group of attendees, including many of the most successful operators in Texas. Louie Sirianni, TIAA president, praised the expo as being “very professional and well organized. The speakers shared great business information and were entertaining. It was well worth the time, and I will be there next year. My wife had a great time at the ladies’ event.” Of course, the goal is always to do better and increase attendance next year. Space says “we’re only going to see it get bigger and better, and we hope to see significant growth next year!”

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