Editor’s Corner: Improving Industry Knowledge At the 2011 HRR Trade Show

Mar 30, 2011

Learn, network, buy and discover-that sums up this year’s Hotrod & Restoration Trade Show, held March 17-19 in Indianapolis. If you weren’t there, you certainly missed out.

The day before the show began, ARMO held its annual long-range planning meeting at the Indiana Convention Center. ARMO members attend this meeting to discuss restoration industry topics and challenges. The members (all industry folks) brainstormed ideas and put together a plan that addresses those challenges. All of ARMO’s activities for the next year are focused on executing that plan. If you’re a member of ARMO, or any other SEMA council, and you haven’t attended one of these meetings, I certainly recommend you do so. It’s a great feeling knowing that you’re helping to make positive changes to the industry.

The Education & Training Day, which was hosted by HRIA on Thursday, offered attendees a choice of 40 manufacturers’ seminars presented across five sessions. The seminars covered a wide variety of topics, including chassis design, soda blasting and EFI.

One thing I frequently heard from shop owners throughout the day was, “We don’t do that now, but after what we learned at that session, we certainly plan to.” This is what Education & Training Day is all about-sharing techniques, product innovations and technical information to increase the knowledge of industry shops.

The Grand Opening Breakfast on Friday morning was a great way to kick off this year’s show. We opened the doors to about 1,000 people who gathered to honor Vintage Air Founder and Owner Jack Chisenhall as the Robert E.  Petersen Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. This award honors the pioneers and founders of our industry, and Jack certainly is part of that. He’s the guy who made hot rodding cool-pun intended.

The breakfast was also the place where seven exhibiting companies were honored with Innovation Awards. We had over 70 impressive new products entered into the New Product Showcase this year, all of which were judged on a points system by a panel of rod shop owners and safety experts. This year we presented the inaugural Golden Builder Award at the breakfast, recognizing the professional builder of one of the display vehicles on the show floor. The judging of the vehicles was done the night before the breakfast, so I didn’t even know who the winner was until that morning. This award is all about the craftsmanship and creativity that the professional builder put into the build. This year the award went to the Ringbrothers for the 1970 Mustang “Dragon.”

The show floor offered attendees more to see and do than ever before-from the over 40 pristine display vehicles, to a live cut-and-sew seat build in the Enduratex booth, to a chassis build demonstration put on by Fatman Fabrications and RideTech, to a corral of pinstriping and painting hot rod artists, there was certainly a lot going on.

Because this is a business-to-business trade show, the weekend wouldn’t have been complete without some good, solid business seminars, courtesy of ARMO. The council hosted two on Saturday morning: Dick Dixon‘s “The Art of Selling,” and an industry panel discussion on Internet marketing. These are hot topics within the industry, and attendees were eager to learn more from these experts.

With all this going on in a four-day period, it’s no wonder some people were calling it “Hotrod Week.” If you missed it, make sure you join us next year, March 22-24 at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. It will be a treat for everybody.