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  • Exploring the 2014 Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week

Exploring the 2014 Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week

The Trade Show Duo that Fuels Business

Feb 19, 2015
Photographers: Jason Gonderman
In this crazy, fast-paced world, sometimes it’s good to stop and investigate those things you somehow should know because you’ve dabbled in it for years, but when put to the test, really don’t know all that much about. Let’s take AAIW, AAPEX, and SEMA as examples. You know the lingo and can converse during cocktail hour, but do you really know anything about these acronyms? This stuff is a little confusing, so even the most SEMA-savvy Central Hall expert may need a little brush up on the big picture.
AAIW stands for the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week. Doesn’t quite ring a bell, does it? If you take out your “SEMA badge,” you’ll notice it’s written across the top center. Notice that the logo is surrounded by two others: AAPEX and SEMA. Simply put, AAIW is a combination of the AAPEX Show held at the Sands Expo & Convention Center and the SEMA Show held at the Las Vegas Convention Center. These two convention centers are super close in proximity—less than 2 miles apart—and together attract an approximate 140,000 attendees during the week. One badge grants entry to both shows; it’s a double dose of trade show overload.
If you’ve poked around the automotive world at all, it’s likely you’ve at least heard of the SEMA Show. SEMA stands for Specialty Equipment Market Association, which is a trade association (comprised of a diverse group of thousands of members who have a passion for and vested interest in the car and truck hobby) that fights to protect the right to drive accessorized and customized vehicles. Bonus trivia: It actually began in 1963 under the name “Speed Equipment Manufacturers Association.” SEMA focuses more on the traditional perception of what defines the automotive aftermarket: all things custom that the passionate automotive enthusiast does to his vehicle in the name of performance, restoration, innovation, or creativity. This is the place for the “car guy” who loves the hobby and lives the lifestyle. This explains why many exhibitor booths feature some sort of attention-getting, eyebrow-raising vehicle.
Photo 2/18   |   Continental Truck
AAPEX stands for the Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo. It’s jointly sponsored by the Auto Care Association (which was called the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association [AAIA] until April 2014) and the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA). While the SEMA-goer may perceive AAPEX as a dry, boring, educational, “business-y” event, an appreciation can be gained by actually going. There are a pleasant amount of aftermarket products on display, and the experience is surprisingly hands-on, understandable, and practical—despite the lack of custom vehicles on display. It is important to remember that the term “aftermarket” encompasses anything that happens to a vehicle after that initial sale by the original equipment manufacturer. This includes original equipment (stock) replacement parts, collision and repair segments, car care products, and things pertaining to the basic maintenance and appearance markets. When considering this wide scope, it’s not surprising that global aftermarket auto parts represent a $477 billion industry.
Photo 6/18   |   We caught a glimpse of this beast out of the corner of our eyes and just had to go investigate a machine that sported a flame paintjob and rolled on big wheels. It’s not too often that customized, show-worthy pressure washers make an appearance—in fact, this is a first. Built by Alkota Cleaning Systems for a customer, this custom portable hot water washer fittingly shows off Alkota’s Monster Series while demonstrating that whatever you need, Alkota can build. The Alcester, South Dakota, company got its start in 1964 building steam cleaners in a converted creamery and states that it’s “innovated and perfected technology that may not win a lot of beauty pageants but does win a lot of loyalty.” Maybe they should reconsider that beauty pageant part…