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The Benefits of Trade Events

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As I write this, I’m just a day away from boarding a plane to Las Vegas for my third trip to NACE since joining FenderBender in 2011. But by the time you actually read this, not only will that show be over, but I’ll also have traveled to and from Vegas again for SEMA.

By now, the FenderBender team has produced dozens of videos, stories and photos chronicling both shows for (all of which are still viewable). We’re probably still catching up on sleep, still sifting through piles of business cards, and recounting the many conversations we had with shop owners, industry experts and celebrities, pondering the potential story ideas within all of them. 

As a car guy, I’m probably still thinking about all of the extreme automotive eye candy I saw at SEMA, and trying to convince my wife that I need some new parts for the Monte Carlo. And even though I just returned, it’s likely that I already miss In-N-Out Burger.

Another show season is in the books.

Attending NACE and SEMA and other trade events during the year is an important part of what we do at FenderBender. That’s because our editorial team of five (including myself) does nearly all of its work from our office in St. Paul, Minn. We get out to local shops when we have the opportunity, but as a national publication, the vast majority of our reporting is done over the phone. Trade events give us an opportunity to get out of the office, meet new people, and hear fresh ideas. It’s also a chance to match faces with familiar voices.

As an example, prior to this year’s NACE and SEMA shows, publisher Chris Messer and I had the opportunity to attend the Management Success! Fall Convention in Glendale, Calif. We were stunned by how many past feature subjects we met there—shop owners Mark Probst of Probst Auto Body, Steve Morrow of Capitol Collision Center, and editorial advisory board member Adam Grant of Xtreme Collision Center, to name a few.

We don’t always ask the shop leaders we interview whether they are involved with a consultant or business coach. We’re more concerned with the actual processes, improvements and performance of their facilities and how they can help advance other shops in the industry. But, because of the progressive nature of many of the operators we speak to, many are affiliated with a consulting company, networking group, industry association or other entity.

It was a pleasure to meet so many familiar folks in person—individuals who have volunteered their time to share their expertise with fellow shop operators across the country. These are people who are truly passionate about their work and advancing the industry.

I know there are many more like-minded professionals out there and I hope we were able to meet some of you at this year’s trade shows. If not, keep an eye out for us in 2014. We’d be happy to hear your story.

Jake Weyer, Editor

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