WCA Wrap-Up

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Article by: Prentice St. Clair

The Western Car Wash Association (WCA) held its annual Convention and Trade Show October 11-13, 2010 at the MGM Grand Hotel and Convention Center in Las Vegas. The International Detailing Association (IDA) participated in the event in its ongoing effort to connect with professional detailers, car wash operators, and suppliers to the detailing industry.

The IDA was involved in several ways, offering an educational session, a round-table session, a trade show booth with area for networking, as well as an interactive product showcase. For those who could not attend, here is a wrap-up of the show. I suggest that both those involved in the professional detailing community as well as those in the car wash community take a few moments to read through this column. Doing so will help you understand what the IDA is up to.

HOW WAS THE SHOW?

Most would agree that the attendance at this year’s WCA trade show was decidedly less than in years past. Nonetheless, there was still a significant presence of decision makers. Moreover, there was no lack of activity at the IDA’s booth, which was manned by members of the IDA board of directors, whose dedication and enthusiasm was a virtual magnet to passing car was operators. Directors Keith Duplessie, Erik Jeffries, Bob Phillips, and myself assisted in the effort.

THE IDA BOOTH

The IDA presence featured an over-sized booth for this event. We took full advantage of the space and actually brought a car into the trade show floor, parking it right in the middle of our booth. “Why?” you may ask. The red 1998 Pontiac Trans Am acted as a “guinea pig” for attendees to actually try out equipment and products that were on display in our “Interactive Product Showcase.”

Believed to be the first-of-its-kind at a car wash trade show, the interactive product showcase allowed detailing product manufacturers and suppliers the opportunity to not only display their wares, but also have those items available to attendees to try out for themselves under the guidance of the IDA representatives. We ended up with 10 showcase participants.

Among the chemicals on display were a number of cleaning chemicals for several vehicle services; several competing paint protection products; specialized chemicals, such as stain removers and convertible-top products; as well as a lune of eco-friendly chemicals. In addition, some tools of the trade were available for hands-on testing, including a selection of buffing pads, polishers, steam machines, and a headlamp clarification kit. Finally, some detailing educational materials were available for examination.

The unique nature of our booth set-up actually attracted attention from car wash operators who may not have necessarily given thought to detailing. Additionally, several car wash owners who currently offer or who have considered offering detailing to their car wash customers, migrated to the booth with questions for the IDA crew and expressed a need for information about new and different detailing products and chemicals.

Moreover, there were several professional detailing operators who spent time at the booth, trying our products and networking with fellow detailers, sharing tips and tricks.

All involved agreed that the IDA booth concept was a great success, regardless of the number of overall show attendees. I can tell you from my personal experience that there was never a dull moment. During the first day, I remember checking the clock at about 9:00 a.m. while entering into a conversation with an attendee. The next time I had a chance to check my phone, it was 3:00 p.m. It seemed like every time I glanced around to check on the other IDA directors, they were busy in conversation with or assisting an attendee in using one of the products on display.

WHAT’S NEXT

Those who are reading this column who were not able to attend the WCA trade show are encouraged to get involved. The first thing to do is to go to the IDA website and join. Then visit the site often and keep informed about upcoming events.

The IDA is planning a significant presence at the 2011 Car Care World Expo, put on by the International Car Wash Association. I encourage you to start planning and saving for your travel to this event, which will be held in Las Vegas May 2-4, 2011. The IDA will likely offer several educational sessions, a detailing pavilion with an interactive product showcase, live demonstrations, and plenty of networking opportunities.

The IDA is a “trade association by, for, and about detailing and detailers.” It is made stronger by increased membership. Thus, another way that you can get involved is to encourage fellow operators in your area to check it out. The more members join, the more resources the association will have, which means the more benefits the association will be able to roll our for all members.

Prentice St. Clair is president of Detail in Progress, a San Diego-based automotive reconditioning consulting firm. To contact him, e-mail Prentice@DetailinProgress.com. Article seen in AutoLaundry News.