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Mark your calendars
If you really wanted to, you could attend some sort of trucking and/or distribution trade show every week. Trucking is currently booming with events geared around improving vehicle uptime and profitability, and the aftermarket is an important part of that. But if you only have the time to attend a few shows, here are few I personally recommend. Each offer excellent training and network- ing opportunities for aftermarket business leaders.
Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week
This is the big one. Held annually in January in Las Vegas, HDAW is the aftermarket’s premier distribution event. Attendance at the event has grown every year since its inception. Presented by the Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association (HDMA), Commercial Vehicle Solutions Network (CVSN) and Auto Care Association (formerly AAIA), HDAW has grown so fast that next year’s event will feature two exhibit halls in addition to its educational sessions, networking receptions and wildly popular one-on-one meetings. The event also will be preceded by the equally popular Heavy Duty Aftermarket Dialogue (HDAD) educational seminar and Service Opportunities Learning Day (SOLD).
VIPAR Heavy Duty, HDA Truck Pride membership meetings
Over the last two years I’ve had the privilege to attend the membership meetings for these two buying groups and I can tell you, these are great events. If you’re a member of these groups and you’re not attending your annual meeting, you are missing a spectacular opportunity to take advantage of what your membership offers. If you’re not a buying group member but are considering it, try reaching out to an affiliated member you know and see what they think of their annual meetings. These events are designed to update members on the state of the group, offer advice to help group members work together and improve their profitability back home.
Heavy Duty Distributor Council Conference
As Canada’s premier aftermarket distribution group, HDDC’s annual conference offers its distributors the opportunity to interact with key suppliers and contemporaries during a four-day event. The event also brings in an impressive lineup of keynote speakers and industry professionals to address common problems found in distribution today. Though I’ve yet to attend an HDDC meeting, I’ve heard rave reviews from suppliers and distributors who value the event for its impressive schedule design and networking opportunities.
Aftermarket Distribution Summit
Presented by the CSVN each fall, ADS attracts some of the most successful distributor business leaders in the aftermarket. The four-day event is built to maximize networking opportunities for attendees, but when it gets down to business its educational sessions are among the best in the industry. Recent topics addressed during Summit training sessions include cultivating your future leaders, finding your future salespeople, streamlining your inventory and the aftermarket’s right to repair. CVSN also has recently added an additional training seminar in April, while this year’s Summit will include a keynote speech on leadership by former NFL coach Sam Wyche.
Commercial Vehicle Outlook Conference
Occurring this month in Dallas before the Great American Trucking Show, CVOC is one of the industry’s best events for economic information as it relates to trucking and as a whole, and offers attendees projections and expert opinions on how external factors can change our industry. The event, which covers two half days, also features excellent seminars on new issues approaching the industry, such as alternative fuels (last year) and telematics (this year). Presented by the HDMA and Randall Reilly, publisher of Truck Parts & Service, CVOC delivers information valuable to fleets, suppliers and the aftermarket.
Technology & Maintenance Council meetings
TMC is a personal favorite of mine. I can’t begin to tell you how much technical knowledge I’ve acquired during the Council’s spring and fall meetings. It’s expansive. What I love the most about TMC is how open and honest everyone is, and how willing people are to help others learn, and improve their businesses. TMC attendance is typically dominated by fleet maintenance directors and suppliers, and for good reason. But I challenge any service provider to attend one of the Council’s two annual meetings and not come home with valuable information. If you have a repair that you can’t solve, go to TMC. Not only will you get your answer, but you’ll get detailed instructions on how to proceed.