The 17th annual Mobile Tech Auto Recon Expo (MTE) took place January 26-28 in Orlando, FL. It was held this year back at the Caribe Royale Resort and Convention Center, which, based on popular sentiment, is a favorite location for this event. MTE caters to the mobile (and fixed) automotive reconditioning industry, including detailing, paint, paintless dent removal, interior surface repair, and accessories. The convention has also become the annual go-to meeting event for the International Detailing Association (IDA) and its members.
At the risk of being redundant year after year, I will say it again: “this year’s MTE was bigger and better than ever.” This was evidenced by the experience of myself and several colleagues, who felt like there was so many great things going on that we simply could not do all the things we normally like to do at this event. This is not necessarily a bad thing, however. MTE has become a whirlwind of activity that includes educational opportunities, certification events, numerous vendor booths to visit, old friends to catch up with, new friends to meet, and dozens of formal and informal meetings.
This year, ownership of MTE changed hands to be run by ConvExx, which is led by certified exhibition management holders Chuck Schwartz and Sheldon Kaye. The transition appears to have gone well, perhaps mostly because our long-time MTE head and friend Kevin Halewood was retained as senior show director. Of course, it wouldn’t be a true MTE without the help of Karen Halewood, Kara Halewood, and the now dangerously mobile little Rowan, who keeps a smile on our faces as he visits the various booths.
WHAT WAS THERE TO SEE?
I am unabashedly biased in reporting the events of the IDA, but before we get to that, let’s look at the convention as a whole.
There were easily 125 exhibitors of numerous automotive reconditioning wares, including paintless dent removal tools and supplies; automotive detailing equipment, tools, and supplies; business management software; interior surface repair supplies; automotive paint tools and supplies; as well as general shop and mobile equipment.
Education was again a large focus of the convention. Friday was the “education day,” featuring well over 50 seminars from industry leaders on virtually every aspect of automotive reconditioning techniques, tools, and business management. Further education seminars occurred on Saturday.
The convention was peppered with numerous meetings and receptions from industry leaders and affiliated trade associations. The highlight event of MTE each year is the Opening Reception and Awards Ceremony, which took place on Friday evening. This year also featured a generous giveaway at the end of the show on Sunday, including a 60” television, cash, and other electronics.
For us detailers, a special moment this year was the opportunity to listen to the keynote address by Renny Doyle, CD-SV, RT on Saturday morning. This was the first time in MTE history that a representative from the automotive detailing industry was selected to provide the keynote address. And Renny delivered, in his own inimitable style, a rousing and emotional speech entitled, “Killing it in Business and Life.”
THE IDA AT MTE
Thanks in part to the numerous and generous IDA-member sponsors, as well as the countless hours volunteered by IDA members, Mobile Tech Expo was once again a success for our association, its members, and detailers in general.
The new IDA tradeshow booth made its debut on the tradeshow floor, and was manned by IDA headquarters representative Cara Anderson, as well as a handful of IDA member volunteers who generously gave their time in shifts over the course of the two-day expo. These folks were instrumental in greeting and answering the questions of current IDA members, as well as encouraging prospective members to join our growing organization. Thanks to all those volunteers who signed up at least 10 new IDA members.
The IDA Tradeshow and Education Committee (headed by yours truly) organized a full day of eight one-hour seminars on Friday, with presentations made by industry leaders on multiple topics relating to the automotive detailing industry. Thanks to MTE management for supplying us with a room for the entire convention. And thanks to all the presenters, who generously gave their time so that all of us could receive new and exciting information about our industry. All seminars were well attended, filling each seminar with 60-135 detailers. IDA detailing session presenters included: • Brian Brown, CD-SV • Keith Duplessie, CD-SV, RT • Seth Glauberman • Vincent Macri, CD-SV • Mike Phillips, CD-SV, RT • Parker Richards • Rob Schrufer, CD-SV, RT • Prentice St. Clair CD-SV, RT
The first ever live webinar from Mobile Tech occurred on Saturday afternoon. A panel of industry experts offered insight into several pre-selected industry topics. This event was broadcast as one of IDA’s monthly webinars, and is available for review to IDA members at the website (www.the-ida.com). Panelists included Renny Doyle, Brian Guy, Ron Harris, Rod Paluzi, Jason Rose, Shawn Rowan, and Rob Schruefer.
The IDA offered detailing certification opportunities for attendees. A “Certification-in-a-Day” event was held on Saturday morning. This four-hour event allows a detailing technician the opportunity to take all 10 of the IDA’s certified detailer exams at one location, while listening to industry experts provide a seminar that contains the information needed to pass the exams.
Additionally, all day Sunday there was an IDA “Skills Validation” event in the pavilion area of the expo. This event provided an opportunity for those detailers who have already achieved Certified Detailer status to complete phase II of the IDA certification process, known as SV or Skills Validated. The slots for this event were completely full and a long standby wait-list was in place. If you want to get your IDA-SV at next year’s MTE, sign up early as space is always at a premium.
And, of course, the highlight of the IDA’s involvement in MTE is the annual business meeting and awards ceremony. This year, in anticipation of a large group of attendees, the event was held in one of the large ballrooms of the Caribe Royale Convention Center. And good thing, as there were at least 150 detailers present.
As we enjoyed sponsored food and a no-host bar, IDA executive director Sheryl Hazard presided over the events that included the swearing in of the new IDA board of directors. These voluntary positions help guide the course of the IDA. New board members this year include Bob Eichelberg, Seth Goss CD-SV, and Bob Myers CD-SV. Additionally, the new IDA president, Justin Labato, CD-SV, RT was introduced.
Keith Duplessie, CD-SV, RT gave the annual “State of the Industry” address. IDA committee chairs each offered a quick synopsis of accomplishments in the last year and goals for 2018. And the really cool aspect of this meeting is the presentation of the IDA annual awards. This year’s recipients are as follows: • IDA Leadership Award: Michael Dickson, CD-SV, RT • IDA Outstanding Service Award: Renny Doyle, CD-SV, RT • IDA Detail Shop of the Year Award: TLC Auto Detail • IDA Mobile Detailer of the Year Award: OnSite Details • IDA Supplier of the Year: Solution Finish • IDA Detailer of the Year: Vincent Macri, CD-SV
In addition, Mobile Tech Expo has its own set of awards, and this year Larry Kosilla won “Detailing Person of the Year.”
The cool new IDA member badges were seen floating around. Thanks to Rob Schruefer for spearheading this fun way to show off our membership. If you are an IDA member in good standing and haven’t received your IDA badge, hold tight, as they will be sent out throughout the year, according to your joining anniversary date.
Remembering the 12 or so of us who were the initial membership of the association back in January of 2009, it is quite stimulating to hear numbers like “960 members; 75 supplier members; 50 countries; three international chapters.” If we increased membership by 40 percent in 2017 alone, just think of where we will be at the end of this year — 2,000 members?
As one of the IDA committee chairs, I was privileged to be invited to sit in on the goal-setting part of the IDA annual face-to-face board of directors meeting, which occurred the Thursday before the expo. Having served on the board for the first six years of the IDA’s existence, I can assure you that the current board is made up of a high-quality, driven, and intelligent group of gentlemen who each brings different experiences and talents to the table. And with the leadership of 2018 president Justin Labato, this group is destined to help the IDA achieve its full growth potential for the year.
Stay tuned to the IDA newsletters, e-blasts, and Facebook postings, as the association continues to improve its current programs while rolling out new programs to benefit members.
Next year’s Mobile Tech Expo will again be in Orlando, FL from January 10-12, 2019. The location initially mentioned is the Orange County Convention Center; stay tuned as this is finalized.
Prentice St. Clair is an International Detailing Association Recognized Trainer and Certified Detailer. As the president of Detail in Progress Inc., he has been providing training and consulting to car washes and detail shops since 1999. He is available at (619) 701-1100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.