The 23nd annual Mobile Tech Auto Recon Expo (MTE) took place January 26-28 in Orlando, FL. It was again held 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 premier gathering event for the International Detailing Association (IDA) and its members.

            Just as multi-year attendees have come to expect, MTE was a whirlwind of activity that included educational opportunities, awards ceremonies, certification events, vendor booths, old friends to catch up with, new friends to meet, and dozens of formal and informal meetings.


            I am not ashamed to admit that I am biased in reporting the IDA-specific events, but before we get to that, let’s look at the convention as a whole.

            There were at least 135 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. Vendors catering specifically to the detailing industry accounted for at least 30 percent of the tradeshow floor, most of which are current IDA Supplier Members.

            Education was again a large focus of the convention. Thursday’s “Education Day” featured about 60 seminars from industry leaders on virtually every aspect of automotive reconditioning techniques, tools, and business management. There were eight different seminar rooms, each of which was dedicated to a specific educational track, including two full detailing tracks. Other tracks included business and sales, digital marketing, learning tools, pads and polishing, technology and product primers, and a PDR track.

            Aside from the seven seminars included in the detailing track presented by the IDA, there were an additional 17 seminars specifically for the detailing industry.

            The convention was peppered by numerous meetings and receptions from industry leaders and affiliated trade associations. A highlight event each year is the MTE Awards Ceremony, which took place on Friday evening. Two from our industry this year won the Nat Danas Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award – Meghan Poirier and Bob Phillips, CD-SV, RIT.


            Thanks in part to the numerous and generous IDA member sponsors, as well as the countless hours spent by IDA directors, committee chairs, and IDA member volunteers, 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, including executive director Sheryle Hazard, staffers Alex Hazard and Anne Lacher, and 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 20 new IDA members, as well as renewing several recently-lapsed memberships!

            The IDA Tradeshow and Education Committee organized a full day of seven one-hour seminars, with presentations made by industry leaders on multiple topics relating to the 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.

            Session attendance ranged from 70-140 persons. IDA Detailing Session presenters included:

•          Yvan Lacroix, CD-SV, RIT (“How to Train and Keep Staff”)
•          Dustin Jackson, CD-SV, MC (“Becoming a Million-Dollar Detail Shop”)
•          Jim Lafeber, CD-SV, RIT (“How to Own a Detailing Shop that Doesn’t Need You”)
•          Jason Barker, CD-SV (“Why You Need to Be a Millionaire Detailer, and How to Stop Making Excuses”)
•          Renny Doyle, CD-SV, RIT (“Client Compounding”)
•          Davy Tyburski (“How to Increase Your Detailing Revenue”)
•          Tyler F. Cucchi, CD-SV, RIT (“An Advanced Stain Removal Process”)

            The keynote address was given by Renny Doyle at the end of the education day. His message, “Make Yourself Unbeatable” was delivered to a standing room only crowd of about 300.

            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. In attendance were 25 detailers seeking IDA detailing certification, including the youngest ever certified detailer, Steve Thompson III, who passed with flying colors at 11 years of age! (No more excuses, right?)

            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. A total of 12 certified detailers received their Skills Validation. 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 IDA also offered a Marine Certification-in-a-Day that occurred Friday afternoon, as well as the first Motorcycle Certification event at MTE. These certifications are for those who offer watercraft or motorcycle detailing (respectively) in their operation. Once a detailer has achieved the CD designation, marine and motorcycle certification can be independently attempted. Each of these certifications are achieved by passing five, 10-question exams, each of which focusses on a specific aspect of the respective specialty detailing. There were 13 attendees at these certification offerings.

            The highlight of the IDA’s involvement in MTE is the Annual Business Meeting and Awards Ceremony. Dustin Jackson, CD-SV-MC, was our master of ceremonies. As the 250 in attendance enjoyed sponsored food and a no-host bar, Justin kept the meeting moving with humorous quips and light-hearted introductions.

            IDA executive director Sheryl Hazard presided over the important IDA business that included the swearing in of the new IDA board of directors. These voluntary positions, under the leadership of new IDA president Bob Myers, CD-SV-MC, RIT, help guide the course of the IDA. New board members this year are Craig Brigham, CD-SV, and Bryan Watson, CD-SV.

            Tyler Cucchi, CD-SV, RIT, provided the audience with an update on IDA’s international chapters. Five new chapters were introduced: Brazil, The Netherlands, Poland, China, and Japan. These join the 10 other current IDA international chapters: Belgium/France, Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, India, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Southeast Asia, and United Kingdom. The IDA’s international presence is growing by leaps and bounds, as evidenced by the fact that one third of our current total membership is now in countries other than the United States. The IDA certification exams are now available in nine languages!


            A special part of the annual business meeting is always the presentation of the IDA annual awards. This year’s recipients are as follows:

•          IDA Outstanding Service Award: Barry Theal, CD-SV, RIT
•          IDA Detail Shop of the Year Award: Joseph Kimball, CD-SV, from Kimball’s Hands-on Detailing
•          IDA Mobile Detailer of the Year Award: Karim Kahn, CD-SV, RIT
•          IDA Detail Supplier of the Year: William Lara, CD-SV, of Miami Luxe
•          IDA Detailer of the Year: Billy Smith, CD-SV

            Later, Jody Sedrick and I had the distinct honor to announce the 2023 IDA Hall of Fame inductions. The Hall of Fame is steered by the IDA Founders Club. In an emotional ceremony, each inductee was introduced and, if in attendance, brought to the stage. This year’s inductees were:

•          Dr. David Ghodoussi (founder, Optimum Polymer Technologies, instrumental in early development of ceramic coatings for automotive application)
•          Kevin Halewood (founder Sun King Publishing and founder of Mobile Tech Expo)
•          Ron Ketcham (director of international sales and instructor for Automotive International Inc., longtime industry instructor)
•          Tadao Kodate (founder of Joybond Co. of Japan, inventor of detailing clay)
•          Steve Okun (SM Okun and Associates, retired industry consultant, instrumental in early developments in polishing technologies, as well as developer of several national detailing programs)


            The Founder’s Club is a select group of IDA members that have demonstrated dedication to the association through tenure and involvement, and, in joining the Founder’s Club, through a significant financial commitment. A portion of those funds are placed into the Founder’s Club Endowment, which accepts grant requests each year for development of detailing educational and training opportunities. This year, the two recipients were:

•          Jeffrey Moore, CD, to establish a community-based internship program in Manassas City, VA
•          Andrew Haney, CD-SV, to build a wash bay in support of Bakersfield College’s automotive technology education program

            Submissions will be accepted for the next round of endowment funds from February 1 through October 31 of this year.

            The IDA began with 12 original members back in 2009. It has now reached nearly 2,500 members, including 79 supplier/manufacturer members, 108 distributor members, and 12 institutional members. Internationally, there are almost 700 members from more than 75 countries, 16 of which have formed their own international chapters. 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 professionals, each of whom brings different experiences and talents to the table. And with the very capable leadership of 2023 president Bob Myers, 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 at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Kissimmee, FL February 1-3, 2024. I encourage those who think it’s a stretch on their budget to set aside, throughout the year, the money needed to attend MTE next year. Come and meet your detailing heroes, the leadership of the IDA, the owners of the companies that make many of the tools and chemicals that you use, and to meet detailers from around the world. Perhaps your story will be like my friend Jim Goguen’s, CD-SV-MC, who has been attending MTE since 2003; he said, “attending that first MTE changed my life.”

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