PANAMA CITY, PanamaFollowing the success of the fourth annual Latin American & Caribbean Tyre Expo in late July, the show's organizers are planning a conference next summer focusing on auto parts for the region.
The Latin Auto Parts Expo will take place July 9-12, 2014, at the Atlapa Convention Center in Panama City, the same venue as the Tyre Expo, which will run two weeks later, July 23-26.
The new show will be tailored to the OE and aftermarket parts business for buyers from South America, Central America and the Caribbean, said Show Director Linda Bassitt.
The owner of the expos is Latin Expo Group L.L.C., which has its headquarters in Miami and an office in Panama. Gus Lima, the CEO of the organization, also serves as CEO of Oriente Triangle Latin America Inc. and Grupo Sailun Latin America Inc., also based in Miami. Oriente Triangle distributes the Triangle tire brand in Latin America, with the exception of Jamaica, Honduras, Peru and Florida, while Grupo Sail-un distributes the Sailun brand in Latin America.
Mr. Lima said the idea for the Parts Expo came about as a result of having to reject about 100 companies that wanted to come to the tire show to sell parts.
I said, 'No, this a tire expo,' he explained to the parts companies wanting to exhibit at the venue.
If you are not directly involved in the tire business, I'm sorry we don't want our people to get diluted with different products. This is tires, some wheels, machinery for the tire business....
It's a place where someone who has been in the tire business all his or her life feels at home, he added.
Latin Expo Group planned to begin marketing the Auto Parts Expo this month.
In 2015, Mr. Lima anticipates adding a third show for the food and beverage industry.
All three shows are tailored to the business-to-business market, he said. They are not open to the public and no admission is charged.
It's strictly for business people to meet business people and make deals and make money, he said.
Regarding the 2013 Latin American & Caribbean Tyre Expo, Mr. Lima said the show grew to 220 exhibitors from 187 a year ago. Attendance reached 4,100, including 3,370 who were registered buyers, according to Ms. Bassitt.
Mr. Lima said the show is about selling tires, and the expo helps to make that happen by bringing people together in a place where they can do business on the showroom floor.
This is a tire show by tire dealers for tire dealers, he explained. I call this the 'show and sell' tire expo, not the 'show and tell' tire expo.
Mr. Lima said this year's expo will probably generate $500 million in sales for the exhibiting companies. The exhibitors don't have to sell a lot to get yearly sales of the whole show to get a combined half a billion dollars, he said.
Mr. Lima founded the Latin America & Caribbean Tyre Expo four years ago for a number of reasons. Following the 2001 terrorists attacks on the U.S., he said, it became more difficult for foreigners to enter the country. Another factor was the Obama administration's implementation of anti-dumping duties on tires, including the now-ended three-year hike on tariffs for light truck and passenger tires from China.
The third thing, he said, was the difficulty he had navigating a tire show in China, which he was attending the day the U.S. anti-dumping duties went into place.
Because of these factors, Mr. Lima said he saw an opportunity to create a tire show in Panama that would bring the manufacturers and distributors mainly from China, the U.S., Europe and Asia to a strategic place he knew is familiar to Latin tire dealers.
These included Panama's location as an air hub for Latin America and the fact that business people, including tire dealers, are used to coming to the country's canal-zone area to conduct business.
The language is familiar, he added. The place is beautiful. It's safe....You can use U.S. dollars. It's a very welcoming country for foreigners.
Mr. Lima, who was born in Cuba, also wanted to showcase and demonstrate his Latin culture. I wanted to show my Latin culture to all the foreign countries, the suppliers from the foreign countries. I wanted them to come here, feel our hospitality, feel the warmth of the Latin culture.
It's a party, he said. Because the theme of the show is, 'You have to have fun while doing business,' that's my philosophy. You have to have fun. You have to love what you do, but you have to smile. You have to be happy.
This year's show attracted several major tire makers, including Goodyear, Bridgestone Amer-icas, Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd. and Continental Tire the Americas (the latter two for the first time) as well as Titan Tire Corp. through its Mexican organization. Michelin Group also was represented through its local system, Mr. Lima said. More than 90 exhibitors came from China, including Double Coin Holdings, as well as Triangle and Sailun, the two companies Mr. Lima represents.
We have a company from Russia. We have Petlas from Turkey, Mr. Lima said, so the show is gaining respect in the tire world, and the only reason why it's doing that is the companies get a return on investments. That's the key.