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NACE Under New Management for 2014

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LAS VEGAS, Oct.18, 2013—After 13 years of organizing and running NACE, Hanley Wood Exhibitions will pass the show to Houston-based Stone Fort Group for 2014 and beyond. The show will also drop the Auto Service and Repair Week (ASRW) moniker.

The management change was a mutual decision by Hanley Wood and the Automotive Service Association (ASA), which sponsors the show. The company and ASA had been in talks for years about the potential shift, as the show has changed significantly during the last three years. Hanley Wood Exhibitions, which typically owns the shows it runs, does not own NACE or its counterpart for the auto service industry, CARS, which makes involvement financially challenging, says Lindsay Roberts, show manager for the company. Though she says it’s hard to let go of the show because of all of the relationships that have been made, Hanley Wood recommended Stone Fort Group, which she says is well-suited to manage the show.

“It’s been an honor and a privilege to have such a great partner as we’ve had in ASA, and for the opportunity to be a part of NACE and CARS, and the automotive service and repair industry,” Roberts says. “We feel completely confident Stone Fort Group’s direction of NACE and CARS in 2014 and beyond will positively impact the show, the association and the industry.”

The management shift takes place in the midst of other big changes for NACE. The 2014 show is planned for Detroit in July, creating three months of separation from SEMA in November. NACE has typically been held weeks apart from SEMA, which organizers say has created attendance issues because of its proximity to SEMA and the perception that attendees need to choose between the events.

Attendance has generally trended down during the last three years, with the exception of the 2011 show in Orlando, Fla., which saw a slight increase over the previous year. This year's event saw another attendance dip, which Roberts and ASA Executive Director Dan Risley say was expected.

Risley says the goal for next year's event is to create a unique experience. The show will be a "true industry week," involving a partnership with the Collision Industry Conference, I-CAR and the Collision Repair Education Foundation. Additional events, such as potential tours of auto plants and museums, are also in the works. The auto manufacturer presence in Detroit, and the desire for their involvment in the show, was a motivating factor for the location.

"We're going to give you something in Detroit that you will not get anywhere else in this country," Risley says.

He says the ASRW name will be dropped because it is confusing and doesn't have the brand equity of NACE and CARS. 

ASA Chairman Darrell Amberson says he doesn’t expect the show to return to the opulence it once enjoyed, but it should serve as a valuable collision-specific event and he expects it to build a new reputation.

“We’re creating a new impression for ASA,” he says. “One of more outreach, more unity. We want our show to be the gathering place for our industry.”

Stone Fort Group co-founders Sean Guerre and Brian Nessen, and other members of their team, attended NACE this year to get a feel for the show.

“We’re here this week to see how this show is running currently and we look forward to taking the good things and carrying those forward and seeing if we can improve on things,” Nessen says.

Nessen and Guerre have extensive trade show and conference experience. For more than 20 years they have managed, owned and consulted on events around the world, including co-located programs.

Hanley Wood Exhibitions will transition management of the show during the next several months. The company has been involved in planning for next year, including scouting the venue. Roberts says they will be involved as long as it takes to bring Stone Fort Group Up to speed, but they will not be at the event as organizers next year.

“We have history on this show for the last 13 years that they will get every piece of,” Roberts says.

“I can’t thank the Hanley Wood team enough for the decades of service to our industry, to ASA and our event attendees,” says ASA Executive Director Dan Risley. “The level of dedication they have shown to our CARS and NACE events has been unsurpassed. They have been true partners to the association, and we make this transition maintaining the utmost respect and appreciation of Hanley Wood and their leadership. With exciting and significant changes to our trade show format in 2014, we now welcome Stone Fort Group, which will be working with Hanley Wood during the next few months to ensure a smooth hand off as we launch CARS and NACE in Detroit next July.”

NACE and CARS 2014 will take place July 29-Aug. 2 at the Cobo Center in Detroit, Mich.

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