LAS VEGAS (Nov. 12, 2002) — Organizers for the massive Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week 2002 (AAIW) trade shows are optimistic that once the official tabulations are in, total attendance for this year's event likely will set new records.
Attendance was approximately 19 percent higher than 2001 levels, according to the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA)—one of the sponsors of the trade shows that ran Nov. 5-8 in Las Vegas. AAIW consists of the SEMA/International Tire Expo (ITE) and Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo (AAPEX) shows.
Preliminary verified attendance figures for AAIW surpassed 82,000, which was approximately even with 1999 figures, the record year until now. The 2002 total surpassed last year's event, even though it was the largest business gathering in the U.S. following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, show organizers said.
Exhibitor count also was higher this year. The SEMA/ITE show featured 1,568 exhibitors in 2 million square feet of space—an all-time record—while the AAPEX show had more than 1,700 exhibitors.
“Reaction to our decision to organize our expanded floor space into sections according to market niche has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Christopher Kersting, president of SEMA. “Our buyers tell us that having their suppliers located close to each other has made this larger show efficient for them. Further, our 1,568 exhibiting companies, which include 12 car makers, are telling us that this is one of the best shows we've produced in the 37-year history of the SEMA Show.”
AAPEX Show Manager Bill Glasgow Sr. said that, “considering the current state of global peace and unrest, the unstable economy and numerous other external factors, we are excited that we were able to rebound from last year's tragic events and attract so many quality buyers and manufacturers from around the world.”
He called the increased attendance “a testament to the importance of AAPEX” said it reflects the additional value the shows are offering participants. “The feedback from our exhibitors has been extremely positive as they report being pleased with both the quality and quantity of buyers,” he said.