The Automotive Distribution Network recently hosted a sellout crowd of more than 1,300 at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans for the 13th Network National Convention, including the group’s members, auto stores, service dealers and manufacturer partners.
“The capacity crowd is indicative of the Network’s growth over the last three years, including 12 new Parts Plus members from across the United States and Mexico and 26 new Auto Pride members,” said Mike Lambert, president of the Network. “I applaud our members and their customers for reinvesting in their businesses by traveling to New Orleans to attend the seminars and Manufacturer’s Expo, which are the cornerstones of these events. We also arranged the convention schedule this year to allow attendees more free time to explore my hometown of New Orleans.”
With seminar topics ranging from social media branding to e-commerce to pricing strategies to vehicle diagnostics, the 2015 event stressed the importance of the group staying ahead of the curve in an ever-changing industry, said Ken Maurer, Network chairman and CEO of Big City Automotive in New York.
“It is imperative to keep our members and their customers moving forward,” Maurer said. “I look at the Network Convention like the toolbox of programs available to our membership — there’s truly something for every business from every market. The fact that most of the seminars were packed shows me that attendees are dedicated to keeping up with the advancements the Network is making in marketing, IT, product and sales.”
More than 190 vendors hosted booths at the Network’s 50,000-square-foot Manufacturers Expo at the Hyatt Regency, displaying their latest products and services as well as providing the opportunity to speak face-to-face with their customers from the field. Six-time world champion driver Clay Millican was also on hand at the Expo, along with the actual Parts Plus/Great Clips Top Fuel dragster that he competes with in the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Series and team owner Doug Stringer.
Attendees also had the rare opportunity to pose for photos with the iconic NHL Stanley Cup through a special appearance arranged by Federal-Mogul.
On the convention’s final night, the Network awarded a new 2015 Chevy Colorado truck to Tim Wilson of Tom Wilson Auto Repair in Sarasota, Fla., while Clay Millican presented the keys to his classic ’57 Chevy pickup to Steven Youngquist of Tucson-based Royal Automotive Service.
To prepare Millican’s truck for its new owner, the orange ’57 Chevy was upgraded months ago with new parts donated by several of the Network’s manufacturer partners in attendance at the New Orleans convention.