ASA President: NACE Has Turned Critical Corner

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DETROIT, July 31, 2014—Automotive Service Association (ASA) president and executive director Dan Risley set a tone of humility, thankfulness and rebirth for the 2014 NACE/CARS Expo & Conference in his remarks at Thursday’s opening general session.

Risley kicked off the program at Detroit’s Cobo Center that included speeches from Detroit Deputy Mayor Isaiah “Ike” McKinnon, keynote speaker Richard Flint, and Bud Denker, executive vice president of Penske Automotive Group.

And Risley’s message to those in attendance was clear: NACE/CARs has turned a critical corner, and that’s due in large part to its industry support.

“If you didn't embrace it, if you didn’t support it, we wouldn’t be here today,” Risley said.

As Risley told FenderBender on Wednesday, pre-registration numbers for the show are up 40 percent compared to 2013, and the show floor is more than twice as large as a year ago—three times the size if the demonstration space is included.

But Risley acknowledged the lack of enthusiasm surrounding the event in recent years, and admitted that many felt the ASA “was crazy” for attempting to bring the show to the Motor City.

Looking out at the audience Wednesday, though, Risley said he “could not be any happier with the decision the board of directors made to bring the show to the city of Detroit.”

Deputy Mayor McKinnon also expressed his gratitude in the show choosing Detroit, and Denker pointed to the vast improvements the city has made in recent years, welcoming those in attendance to the city that’s home to Penske, the $21-billion-a-year automotive giant.

Flint, a renowned motivational speaker, delivered a powerful keynote speech about the importance of building a business based on partnerships, during which he pointed to Risley and the ASA as an example of an organization looking honestly at its faults and pushing forward.

“I am so excited in what I am seeing with ASA and NACE,” Flint, clad in his trademark floral shirt and sneakers, told the audience. Just two years ago, Flint said, he viewed the ASA as “a self-destructing organization … on its own death path.”

“What paralyzes a lot of companies and organizations is they keep talking about yesterday. Yesterday is a reference library, not a room to live in,” Flint added. “If you want to go forward, if ASA and NACE wants to go forward, if you as a business owner want to go forward and you want to grow your business … you have to face what is. Nothing can be improved without honesty. Until you face what is, nothing is going to improve.”

Risley closed the session with a sometimes emotional thank-you to those that helped the 2014 NACE/CARS take shape. Using an analogy based on the film “Field of Dreams, Risley pointed to the showroom floor as the field his team has built.

“We built it and it’s up to you whether you win or lose this year,” he said.

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