The 20th annual Mobile Tech Auto Recon Expo (MTE) took place January 31 through February 1 in Orlando, FL. It was held this year at the Rosen Shingle Creek Convention Center. MTE caters to the mobile (and fixed) automotive reconditioning industry, including detailing, paint, paintless dent removal, interior surface repair, and accessories. The annual gathering has also become the most prominent event for the International Detailing Association (IDA) and its members.
MTE continues to be a whirlwind of activity that includes numerous educational opportunities, certification events, plenty of vendor booths to visit, old friends to catch up with and new friends to meet, and dozens of formal and informal meetings. It was a weekend of records for the IDA. Additionally, this year held a very special emotional moment with the first annual IDA Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony — more about that later.
WHAT WAS THERE TO SEE?
I am not ashamed to admit that I am biased in reporting the events of the IDA, but before we get to that, let’s look at the convention as a whole.
There were at least 130 exhibitors of numerous automotive reconditioning wares, including paintless dent removal tools and supplies; automotive detailing equipment, chemicals, tools, and supplies; business management software; interior surface repair supplies; automotive paint chemicals, tools and supplies; as well as general equipment and supplies needed to run a mobile or fixed operation. Detailing-related vendors accounted for about 1/3 of the tradeshow floor. Over 20 of the exhibitors were IDA members.
Education was again a large focus of the convention. “Education Day” was returned to Thursday this year. It featured 60 seminars from industry leaders on virtually every aspect of automotive reconditioning techniques, tools, and business management. A handful of education seminars occurred on Friday and Saturday as well. Additionally, a live demo area on the tradeshow floor allowed attendees to get face-to-face with products and their promoters throughout the expo.
The convention was peppered with numerous meetings and receptions from industry leaders and affiliated trade associations. A highlight event of MTE each year is the opening reception and awards ceremony, which took place on Thursday evening. This year’s winner of the Mobile Tech Expo “Detail Person of the Year” award was Mel Craig.
This year, instead of having a keynote speaker, MTE opted to have “Conversation with a Legend” interview segments, featuring a different individual each day of the three-day event. The featured “Legends” were Bob McKee (detail supplier), Tom Price (paintless dent removal education), and Mike Phillips (detailing education).
The Rosen Shingle Creek venue was hospitable, to say the least, with plenty of eating and drinking establishments. And it was especially nice to have the expo in the same complex, and the education rooms right next door to the expo hall.
THE IDA AT MTE
Thanks in part to the numerous and generous IDA member sponsors, as well as the countless hours expended by IDA directors, committee chairs, and members, Mobile Tech Expo was once again a success for our association, its members, and detailers in general.
The IDA booth served as a hub of activity on the tradeshow floor. The booth was staffed by IDA headquarters representatives Alex Hazard and Anne Lacher, as well as IDA member volunteers who generously gave their time in shifts over the course of the two-day Expo. These folks were instrumental in greeting and answering the questions of current IDA members, as well as encouraging prospective members to join our growing organization. Thanks to all involved in signing up at least 30 new IDA members! This is a new tradeshow sign-up record.
The IDA tradeshow and education committee organized one-and-a-half days of 10, one-hour seminars, with presentations made by industry leaders on multiple topics relating to the automotive detailing industry. Thanks to MTE management for supplying us with an education room for the entire convention. And thanks to all the presenters, who generously gave their time so that all of us could receive new and exciting information about our industry.
All seminars were well attended, filling each seminar with dozens of detailing professionals. Most sessions had about 100 attendees, and we reached a new record with a single seminar achieving an attendance of 150! IDA detailing session presenters included:
• Keith Duplessie, CD-SV, RT
• Levi Gates, CD-SV, RT
• Raymond A. Harrison, Sr., CD-SV
• Clint Hintz, CD-SV, RT
• Jason Killmer
• Justin Labato, CD-SV, RT
• Jim Lafeber, CD-SV, RT
• Yvan Lacroix, CD-SV, RT
• David Patterson, CD-SV
• Jason Rose, CD-SV, RT
• Walt Sanders, CD-SV
• Prentice St. Clair, CD-SV, RT
As usual, the IDA offered detailing certification opportunities for attendees. A “Certification-in-a-Day” event was held on Friday morning. This four-hour event allows a detailing technician the opportunity to complete all 10 of the IDA’s certified detailer exams at one location, while listening to industry experts provide a seminar that contains the information needed to pass the exams.
Thanks to Bob Myers, CD-SV, RT, and Brian Finn, CD-SV, RT, who worked with a total of 37 detailers seeking IDA detailing certification. There were many pre-registrations, but because of the efforts of seminar presenters and others, who announced the event, a couple-dozen walk-ins were also processed. This is by far the largest group we’ve ever run through certification at MTE, yet another record.
Additionally, an IDA “Skills Validation” event took place all day Saturday in the IDA Demo area of the tradeshow floor. This event provided an opportunity for those detailers who have already achieved certified detailer status to complete phase II of the IDA certification process, known as “SV,” short for skills validated. The slots for this event were completely full and a long standby waitlist was in place. At the end of the day, 26 certified detailers received their skills validation — another record. If you want to get your IDA-SV at next year’s MTE, sign up as soon as the event is announced on the IDA website; space is always at a premium.
The highlight of the IDA’s involvement in MTE is the annual business meeting and awards ceremony. A sub-committee of the IDA tradeshow and education committee was assembled to produce this event, as it was decided that this was to be a fun and exciting celebration rather than the typical bland business meetings of years past. Alex Hazard, Keith Duplessie, and Prentice St. Clair scripted out the entire evening. Alan Medcraf, CD-SV, RT, from Scotland was drafted as the master of ceremonies, while Prentice ran sound and music for the program, Alex took care of the slide show and videos, and Renny Doyle, CD-SV, RT acted as roving interviewer.
The mix of formal and informal programming made for an atmosphere that was more like a televised awards show instead of a business meeting. It was well-received by the record turnout of at least 225 detail industry representatives — up 30 percent from last year — most of which stuck around even though the untested new format went long. Trust me, we’ll work on avoiding that next year, while still keeping it fun.
As we enjoyed sponsored food and a no-host bar, Alan kept the meeting moving with humorous quips and light-hearted introductions. 2019 IDA president Jonathan Munsell gave the state-of-the-IDA address, pointing out our successes from last year, including tremendous membership growth, especially in the international arena.
IDA executive director Sheryl Hazard presided over the events that included the swearing in of the new IDA board of directors. These voluntary positions help guide the course of the IDA. Additionally, the new IDA president, DJ Patterson, CD-SV, RT was introduced.
Keith Duplessie gave the annual state of the industry address, the highlights of which were:
• Reported gross income at detail operations is up
• The industry grew last year, with more shops and mobile operations
• The percentage of female-owned operations increased
• Many operations utilize digital media, but traditional advertising is far from dead
Keith concluded that these observations indicate that our industry is alive, vibrant, and growing.
AND THE WINNER IS
A special part of the annual business meeting is always the presentation of the IDA annual awards. This year’s recipients are as follows:
• Outstanding Service Award: Daniel Baker, CD
• Detail Shop of the Year Award: Detail Lex, Daryl Lyons, CD-SV
• Mobile Detailer of the Year Award: Paul Frasco, CD-SV
• Supplier of the Year: Mike Dickson, CD-SV, RT with Professional Detailing Supply out of Canton Ohio
• Detailer of the Year: Claude Harris, Jr., CD
By far, the biggest highlight of the evening was the first ever IDA Hall of Fame induction ceremony. This new aspect of IDA recognition is steered by the IDA Founders Club. In an emotional ceremony, each inductee was introduced and brought to the stage with a standing ovation from the adoring crowd. I doubt there was a dry eye in the house as the following industry giants were introduced:
• Barry Meguiar (in absentia)
• Bud Abraham
• Renny Doyle, CD-SV, RT
• Bill Phillips (posthumously — award accepted by sons Bob and Dave)
• Ed Terwilliger, CD-SV, RT
After only 11 years of existence, it’s fantastic to realize that we have come from 12 original members to over 1,700 members; 225 supplier members; 57 countries; 5 international chapters, with seven new international chapters in the formation process. It is quite obvious that this association is around for the long haul and will only get bigger and better.
As one of the IDA committee chairs, I was privileged to be invited to sit in on the goal-setting part of the IDA annual face-to-face board of directors meeting, which occurred the Wednesday before the Expo. Having served on the board for the first six years of the IDA’s existence, I can assure you that the current board is made up of a high-quality, driven, and intelligent group of gentlemen who each brings different experiences and talents to the table. And with the very capable leadership of 2020 president DJ Patterson, this group is destined to help the IDA achieve its full potential for the year.
Stay tuned to the IDA newsletters, e-blasts, and Facebook postings, as the association continues to improve its current programs while rolling out new programs to benefit members.
The next Mobile Tech Expo will take place August 27-29, 2020 at the South Point Hotel and Convention Center in Las Vegas. Mobile Tech Expo Orlando is scheduled for February 4-6, 2021 at the Gaylord Palms in Orlando, FL.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.