The SEMA Show was held again this year at the Las Vegas Convention Center November 1-4. According to the show’s website, this year’s attendance was in excess of 60,000 with 2,400 exhibitors filling over 2 million square feet of show floor. Exhibits and demonstrations spilled out into the quarter-million square-foot lobby and the adjacent parking lot in front of the convention center.

This year, automotive detailing, reconditioning, and restyling exhibitors were concentrated into one area of the convention center’s North Hall, making it convenient for those in our industry to check out the latest offerings and catch up with fellow detailers. And, if you had time, there were 11 other automotive related areas available to peruse, from mechanical repair to racing.

The business-minded operator could take advantage of dozens of free educational sessions with a full range of business, administrative, and technical topics. Another benefit of attendance is the numerous live product demonstrations and flashy special events that occur throughout the various exhibit halls during the entire show.

And then there was the detailing invasion.


With detailing-related vendors centered in one area and the buzz about SEMA created on social media, there was a marked increase in the presence of auto detailing operators. It was great to exchange handshakes and embraces with detailers from around the country and several from around the world, including many old friends as well as new acquaintances. We gathered in the various supplier booths to share “war stories” and catch up on family.

We were able to see our favorite heroes and celebrities in the industry, mingle at the various meet-and-greet events, make new friends, and get certified.

During all of this, a very special event occurred at this year’s SEMA Show. At the annual meet-and-greet sponsored by Renny Doyle, it was brought to our attention that a fellow operator was in need of immediate assistance. Erica Childs of Detail Kings let us know that detailer Don Bedford, suffering from cancer, had collapsed while waiting in line to register at SEMA and was rushed to the hospital. His family came into town with no place to stay and unable to access available funds. So Erica spearheaded a quick “pass-the-hat” collection and detailers in attendance generously opened their wallets, yielding over $1,000 in an hour. What a great community we have!


As the self-appointed liaison for the International Detailing Association, I had the privilege of presenting IDA welcome kits to IDA-member suppliers who were exhibiting at the show. There were a total of 15. This is an impressive count and shows the level of commitment that our suppliers have to the industry. Many of the suppliers were anxious to know how they could further support the IDA.

Among the items presented was an “IDA Member” badge ribbon, which exhibitors proudly attached to the bottom of their SEMA badge. We had no idea how valued these ribbons would be and came up woefully short on having enough ribbons for booths with multiple workers, not to mention all the IDA-member attendees who were clamoring for the ribbons. You can rest assured that I will personally make sure there are plenty of “IDA Member” ribbons to go around at Mobile Tech Expo. Perhaps we can create such a demand for ribbons that we can use the classic Cedric and Bob quote from “Seinfeld”, “Who?! Who doesn’t want to wear the ribbon?”


The IDA again showed up at SEMA this year in the form of an IDA detailers meet-and-greet, a certification event, and the support of IDA suppliers at the show.

On Tuesday evening, IDA member Professional Detailers Inc./ShowFleet Inc. sponsored the 2nd annual IDA Detailers “Meet-and-Greet” in one of the seminar rooms in the North Hall. It was exciting to see a room full of enthusiastic operators and suppliers, mostly IDA members but others who later signed up as brand new members. Indeed, attendance was at least twice as large as last year, with easily 60 in the room. We enjoyed beverages, food, and camaraderie for a couple of hours.

Yours truly provided an IDA “Certification-in-a-Day” event on Wednesday morning during the show. (Thanks again to IDA member Professional

Detailers, Inc./ShowFleet, Inc. for sponsoring the seminar room.) I was proudly able to certify 11 detailers, including the president of the Association of Mexican Detailers, Jesus Castillo de la Rosa.

IDA Certification-in-a-Day events provide a valuable opportunity to take all 10 Certified Detailer Exams in one place at one time. The event includes a comprehensive seminar that provides all of the information necessary to virtually guarantee passing the exams. These events happen at different locations across the country or they can be scheduled in a specific area, given enough attendees. Contact me or check out for more information.

As mentioned earlier, there were 15 IDA supplier members exhibiting on the SEMA tradeshow floor, including five prestigious IDA “Founder’s Club” members. All were quite excited about the IDA and what it is doing for the auto detailing industry. A notable experience occurred as I walked around the trade show floor with my IDA logo shirt — I was approached several times by “strangers” who specifically asked about the IDA. “Hey, I’ve heard about this IDA thing and I’m wondering what it’s about,” was a common introductory comment among those who wanted to know how they could get involved.

This indicates to me that the IDA is now becoming a recognized entity in our industry. Beyond the IDA’s efforts to grow membership, people are starting to seek out the IDA. In fact, I noticed at SEMA a palpable feeling of excitement in the air. As longtime IDA champion Bob Phillips noted, the detailing industry is going through a re-invention: new equipment, new supplies, new chemicals, new techniques, new approaches to the business, and a new feeling of cooperation.

Some might think me overly optimistic, but as a 6-year founding board of directors member who has seen this association grow from its original handful of members, I believe the IDA has reached a “critical mass” and is about to “explode” with members, events, outreach, and member benefits. We currently have 443 operational members and 55 supplier members from 30 countries, and these numbers continue to grow. Stay tuned.


Speaking of “staying tuned,” the next big event for IDA and detailers in general is Mobile Tech Expo, which takes place in Orlando, FL on Thursday,

Friday, and Saturday, January 19-21, 2017. Along with the great seminars and events occurring at the show, the IDA will be hosting a number of events for IDA members and all detailers.

For example, we will have two full days of IDA-sponsored educational seminars on Thursday and Friday, including a “Certification-in-a-Day” event on Thursday afternoon. There will also be a two-hour-long detailer’s forum on Friday afternoon where a group discussion among attendees will occur with a panel of experts offering advice and solutions on topics chosen by the membership.

On Friday evening, the IDA will have its Annual Business Meeting and Awards Presentation. This is a must-attend event for all detailers and affiliates, regardless of IDA membership. Each year, the size of attendance at this event seems to double. Come and celebrate the recognition of your peers who have earned IDA and MTE awards for their efforts in the industry throughout 2016. Not to mention the free food and no-host bar. You will also hear short presentations on the state of the detailing industry.

Of course, throughout the Expo, you can visit the IDA booth to meet staff from IDA headquarters, discuss issues with members of the IDA board of directors, and mingle with other IDA members. Make sure to visit IDA supplier members on the tradeshow floor as well and thank them for their support of our industry.

On Saturday, the IDA will host a rare opportunity for Certified Detailers to earn their “Skills Validated” designation. Detailers already holding the IDA-CD certification can sign up at for the limited number of slots available on Saturday to be SV-tested.

Mobile Tech Expo, aside from all the opportunities mentioned above, allows attendees to network and problem-solve with hundreds of detailers from around the world. It is one of the premier networking events for our industry. The detailing operator also has the chance to see new products and old stand-bys on the tradeshow floor. Moreover, there are typically dozens of representatives from affiliated reconditioning industries, like paintless dent removal, paint touch-up and panel blending, interior surface repair, windshield repair, and many others.


SEMA is a relatively big time commitment and if you are really passionate about your industry and want to find out how to do better, plan on going next year. Mobile Tech Expo is coming up and is quite a bit less expensive and time-consuming than SEMA, but offers tons of opportunities for the professional detailer. Finally, if you haven’t already done so, check out this IDA “thing” — it’s a phenomenon.

Prentice St. Clair is an International Detailing Association Recognized Trainer and Certified Detailer. As the president of Detail in Progress Inc., he has been providing training and consulting to car washes and detail shops since 1999. He is available at (619) 701-1100 or