GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — This city, the childhood home of President Gerald Ford and a longtime hub for office furniture manufacturing, recently was the gathering place for thousands of automotive professionals.
Nearly 3,400 aftermarket employees traveled to the western Michigan city for the Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper Tech Expo held Feb. 14-15 in Grand Rapids.
The gathering is organized each year by Auto-Wares Group of Companies, a Grand Rapids-based distribution company that is the largest shareholder in the Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance, the umbrella entity for the Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper parts distribution networks.
The two-day event included training sessions for both technical and managerial topics and set a new attendance record of 3,366, a gain of over 300 versus 2019, Auto-Wares Marketing Director Ryan Backowski said.
Mild weather in that part of Michigan helped boost attendance at this year's show, Mr. Backowski said, noting winter weather kept attendance down a year ago.
Auto-Wares has a network of 190 parts locations throughout Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin and another 110 independent jobbers that buy from the group.
The expo included both classroom work as well as a trade show floor where companies could interact with the customers and potential clients to learn about new products as well as make purchases on the show floor.
The accompanying trade show attracted over 240 exhibitors and the education program grew to 88 classes, including 33 that were new.
Keeping the educational portion of the show fresh each year is a key, Mr. Backowski said. "We're trying to keep the fix new and fresh and interesting so the offering doesn't get stale."