Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Updated Nov 26, 2017

By John Blodgett, MacKay & Company

It is actually the middle of October as I write this column and there hasn’t been a whiff of winter weather yet in Chicago, although it does seem like the Cubs have hibernated.

So why bring up the holidays?

Because they will soon be upon us and soon after that is the Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week (HDAW) in Las Vegas from Jan. 22-25, 2018. This is the preeminent conference on the heavy-duty aftermarket in North America. It is run by a combination of associations whose primary focus is the heavy-duty aftermarket.

If you are a distributor of heavy-duty aftermarket parts and/or service and haven’t attended this conference in the past, I highly recommend you consider it this year. It is an excellent way to network with other distributors, get one-on-one time with suppliers and enjoy interesting and educational presentations.

If you are a supplier, it is likely the best bang for the buck to get in front of the people who are on the front lines of the independent aftermarket.

The primary reason I am writing this column now is to start you thinking about what you want out of this conference. It seems that everyone is extremely busy these days, mainly because business is good, but if you don’t start outlining your goals for HDAW you risk leaving Las Vegas wishing you had spent more time preparing for this conference.

If you are a distributor, start laying out the topics you want to discuss with each individual supplier you want to meet with at the one-on-one meetings. If you start that list now, you are not likely to forget to address the important items. Talk to your employees about their perspective on what needs to be addressed or brought up—they may have a different take.

Also think about what new suppliers it might make sense to meet with this year, if only to better educate yourself on possible new products or suppliers.

Finally, think about who from your organization you want to attend. There are a lot of heads with gray hair and no hair at this conference (just the men)—not that there is anything wrong with that—but are there younger members on your team that would benefit from this conference? If so, get them signed up.

If you are a supplier, you probably have already started thinking about the key messages or themes you want to get across to current and potential distributors.

If you haven’t started, get started, if you have started, start finalizing. Determine what and who should be in your booth. Determine how you are going to differentiate your company from your peers and competitors. What are you going to discuss in your one-on-one meetings? Will the distributors you meet with be able to remember your message? Will there be anything new from what you told them last year?

Finally, a shameless plug. If you are planning to attend HDAW, get into town one day earlier and attend HDAD (Heavy Duty Aftermarket Dialogue) on Monday, Jan 22, 2018.

It is a one-day conference sponsored by MacKay & Company and the Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association (HDMA) and it includes speakers and panels with distributor, dealer and fleet representatives discussing the pressing issues impacting the heavy-duty aftermarket. You can find more information at either organization’s website.

John Blodgett has worked for MacKay & Company for more than 20 years and is currently vice president of sales and marketing, responsible for client contact for single and multi-client projects. He can be reached at

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