PAACE Automechanika 2007: Not an Ordinary Trade Show
(Akron/Tire Review) Last week, many North American automotive aftermarket professionals – including myself – packed their bags for Mexico City and the annual PAACE Automechanika trade show. The show this year drew more than 550 exhibitors and 19,000 attendees.
In recent years, the show has become known as a place for U.S. companies to explore expansion plans into Mexico and South America. The show is sponsored Mexico’s Industria Nacional de Autopartes (INA) along with U.S. industry association heavyweights: the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA), the Motor Equipment Manufacturer’s Association (MEMA), the Automotive Parts Rebuilder Association (APRA) and the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA).
Whether you are a first-time attendee or veteran of the show, PAACE Automechanika always manages to amaze and educate about this growing market. According to a 2005 study by the Mexican Ministry of Economy and the INA, the Mexican aftermarket employs more than half a million people at almost 40,000 automotive parts stores and more than 146,000 repair facilities.
The Buzz on the Floor
What is it like being on the floor at a Mexican aftermarket automotive trade show? It is a lot like any tradeshow, with just one small difference — just about everyone speaks Spanish. But don’t worry, most booths have translators. Whether you are walking the floor or stuck in a booth, you will always find a way to communicate.
The majority of the booth traffic was comprised of technicians, shop owners and parts store employees. They gave the show floor an air of excitement and enthusiasm. Compared to the typical AAPEX or SEMA show attendee, it was amazing what they would do for a t-shirt or trinket. The tasks ranged from just standing in line to shouting the virtues of a brand at the tops of their lungs.
As for the exhibitors, the booths spaces were filled with manufacturers, importers and exporters. But, what made this show unique when compared to AAPEX or SEMA is the “Distribuidors” or “Grupos.” In English, the rough translation is warehouse distributors or jobbers.
Many of distribuidors or grupos had large and complex booths. But, what really set them apart from their U.S. counterparts is how they displayed different brand logos. It put a NASCAR car to shame. Also, it was very hard to find a white box or private label part in those booths.
The show hours were from 2-9 p.m. Yes, you read that right. If you had the chance, morning was a good time to visit local shops and parts stores and get a ground-level view of the Mexican aftermarket. Also, in Mexico City, it is common for many shops or parts stores to be clustered together in one area, so it was possible to visit many shops in a short period of time.
When it comes to choosing accommodations for the show, it is just like Industry Week in Las Vegas, where it’s all about “location, location, location.” The main hotel for American visitors was the Presidente Inter-Continental Ciudad de Mexico. But there were a number of other hotels located right next door, in a nice and safe neighborhood of Mexico City. The hotels are about 30 minutes away from the airport and exhibition hall. (By Andrew Markel, Babcox)