The SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) Show was held again this year at the Las Vegas Convention Center from November 5-8. According to the show’s website, this year’s attendance was in excess of 71,000 with 2,400 exhibitors filling over two million square feet of show floor.

The IDA Meet-and-Greet at SEMA was a huge success.
Well over 150 detailing professionals from around
the world attended.

Exhibits and demonstrations spilled out into the quarter-million-square-foot lobby and the adjacent parking lots in front of the convention center as well. This year, parking was at a premium because SEMA took over virtually all of the convention center parking lots for exhibitors, displays, and demonstrations. It is one of the top 10 conventions in the world.

Again 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 industry’s latest offerings and catch up with fellow detailers, suppliers, and manufacturers. 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 as well as technical topics. Another benefit of attendance is the numerous live product demonstrations, flashy special events, and celebrity appearances that occur throughout the various exhibit halls during the entire show.


With the concentration of detailing-related vendors into one area, as well as the buzz about SEMA created on social media, the presence of auto detailing operators was the largest I’ve ever witnessed

at this show. 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 achieve Certified Detailer status from the International Detailing Association.

Once again, we had our Tuesday night Detailers’ Meet-and-Greet. The attendance was outrageous; people were squeezed in like sardines and spilling out into the hallways.

There were detailers from virtually every state in the Union. The international presence was amazing as well, with industry representatives from Mexico, Ecuador, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Australia, England, Russia, the Middle East, and many others that I am probably forgetting or didn’t meet.


As the 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. The IDA currently has about 225 supplier members. About 30 of them were exhibiting on the tradeshow floor. This is an impressive count and shows the level of commitment that our suppliers have to the industry. Several non-members expressed interest in joining and were presented with applications.


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.

As mentioned earlier, on Tuesday evening, IDA member ShowFleet, Inc. sponsored the third 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! We enjoyed beverages, food, and camaraderie for a couple of hours. Thanks to John Bell of Pro Products, Keith Duplessie of Detail Plus, and Prentice St. Clair of Detail in Progress Inc., for sponsoring the food and beverages. Several IDA supplier members approached me after the event, all of whom were on-board with sponsoring a larger room for next year. I have a feeling that IDA’s presence at the 2020 SEMA will be leaps and bounds over what it has been so far. Stay tuned!

Yours truly provided an IDA “Certification-in-a-Day” event on Wednesday morning during the show. (Thanks again to IDA member ShowFleet, Inc. for sponsoring the seminar room.) I was proudly able to certify 11 detailers, including a contingent from Puerto Rico as well as the Philippines. 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 at least 30 IDA supplier members exhibiting on the SEMA tradeshow floor, including several prestigious IDA “Founder’s Club” members. All were quite excited about the IDA and what it is doing for the auto detailing industry.

As a member of the IDA Tradeshow and Education Committee, I am proud of how far the IDA has come in its presence at the various tradeshows around the world. It is gratifying to see IDA events happening around the world, especially those sponsored by our five international chapters!


The latest trend at SEMA is for exhibitors to host celebrity podcasts and other special events in their booths, as well as fabulous parties and mixers off-site. It’s really cool to see some of the detailing industry suppliers doing well enough to host terrific events that we used to only see in other industries. The fact that this is happening at all is an indication of how much our industry is advancing.

A couple if highlights were the “Women of Detailing” podcast, during which Renny Doyle interviewed four very successful detailers who happen to be female. As Renny said, referring to the predominantly male contingent of our industry, “these women kick our butts!” It’s terrific to see women having success in our industry, and I look forward to more such stories.

Another event highlight was the “Ceramic Smackdown” (playfully named, of course). Bob Phillips invited seven industry leaders in the ceramic coating industry to sit in his booth and be interviewed about the state of this particular side of our industry.

Finally, Renny’s annual “Cigars” event was a huge success, drawing 480 detailing professionals.


Fret not if you missed SEMA, as you have a wonderful opportunity to attend the next big event for detailers — Mobile Tech Expo, which takes place in Orlando, FL on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, January 30 to February 1, 2020 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort and Convention Center. Along with the great seminars and events occurring at the event, 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 Friday and Saturday, including a “Certification-in-a-Day” event on Friday.

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 2019. 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, all 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. The IDA Tradeshow and Education Committee is in preliminary discussions with SEMA staff to increase the presence of IDA at next year’s show.

In the meantime, Mobile Tech Expo is coming up and is quite a bit less expensive and time-consuming than SEMA, but offers actually more educational and networking opportunities for the professional detailer than does SEMA. 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