Finishing Line

Show Season

By Stefan Budricks

02/01/18

“Show season” is probably a misnomer. These days, tradeshows dedicated to the car care business are pretty much year-round occurrences. For 2018, the Mobile Tech Expo, catering mainly to detailers, got the ball rolling in January. In his Auto Detailing column last month, Prentice St. Clair pointed out that the International Detailing Association had participated in no fewer than eight tradeshows, here and abroad, during 2017.

The Southwest Car Wash Association Convention and Expo, the first “big” car wash show of the year, takes place this month in Arlington, TX. This regional show gets bigger and better each year, and soon the organizers will need to consider how to again add exhibit space to a show floor that seems to grow non-stop from one expo to the next.

Program content at the SCWA show offers, in part, a glimpse of what will occupy operators’ workload and challenges ahead. It starts with the opening event: the CEO Forum. Panelists are scheduled to address such issues as consolidation, a trend in both the operator and vendor segments, and autonomous cars, one of many tech developments that impact the car wash business.

Consolidation is also evident in the car care association world. The end of April brings us the International Carwash Association’s presentation of The Car Wash Show, now a consolidated event for members of the ICA, the Western Carwash Association, and the Automotive Oil Change Association. And just last month, the ICA announced a partnership with the Australian Carwash Association in terms of which the Aussie show joins the ICA show lineup as “Car Wash Show Australia,” the first edition of which takes place October 30 through November 1 in Melbourne.

If a taste for the international is what creams your coffee, there are options closer to home: The Uniti Expo is being held May 15 through 17 in Stuttgart, Germany and features such storied sponsors as Washtec and Sonax. U.S. visitors will also encounter some familiar faces, including Sonny’s and Innovative Control Systems.

You might not need four months to tour car wash facilities across Europe, but if you do, you can return to German soil in time for Automechanika in Frankfurt beginning September 11. It could be well worth your while, as car wash exhibitors will be accommodated for the first time indoors in a brand-new hall. But there is more: In addition to car washing, the new hall will house reconditioning exhibitors and vendors catering to classic and collectible car enthusiasts. Besides, this is Automechanika’s 25th anniversary; it’s kind of special.

Back on home turf, slotted in between Uniti and Automechanika, is the Midwest Carwash Association’s Expo scheduled for June 18-20 (so, you might have to forego that European tour) in Battle Creek, MI. Following a summer break, the Southeastern Car Wash Association offers its annual Trade Show and Expo September 16-18 in Birmingham, AL. The Northeast Regional Carwash Convention is the last regional show of the year. It is scheduled for October 1-3 in Atlantic City.

The gaps between these tradeshows are filled with numerous additional networking and educational opportunities. State associations host regular meetings, tabletop shows, and charity events, and some, as do regional associations, organize car wash tours throughout the year.

For those who want to exploit every opportunity, it’s always show season.



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