More than 2,000 automotive and bumper-to-bumper value professionals converged on AAPEX, Nov. 1-3, in Las Vegas for the Auto Parts Alliance Aftermarket Convention Inc. This year’s Aftermarket Jackpot: High Stakes Edition was the Alliance’s largest convention to date. Two full days of convention attendees visiting the AAPEX show, three days of giveaways—including more than a dozen trips to Hawaii—and the crowning achievement of the 2022 Automotive Value and Bumper-to-Bumper Technician year for the United States, Canada and Latin America.
On Wednesday morning, the Nellis Air Force Base Honor Guard presented the nation’s colors as famed Las Vegas anthem singer Jennifer Lear started the day singing the national anthems of Canada and the United States. While Lear sang, sand artist Teresa Herrick created patriotic images of both nations with sand.
After the opening ceremony, JC Washbish, vice president of sales and marketing for the Alliance, led a panel discussion of industry leaders. Chris Pruitt, president and CEO of East Penn Manufacturing, joined Washbish; Corey Bartlett, President and CEO of Automotive Parts Headquarters, and Eric Sills, President and CEO of Standard Motor Products, as well as comedian, podcast and TV personality Adam Carolla. The panel discussed industry perspectives, their own excitement for the AAPEX show, and shared memories of their favorite automotive experiences.
The panel then led the grand parade to the AAPEX show with pomp and circumstance. Las Vegas police shut down Las Vegas Boulevard as Jackpot attendees were escorted by showgirls, Elvis stilt walkers, pipers and drummers for the one-mile ride to AAPEX .
“The addition of Aftermarket Jackpot to Industry Week brings together top technicians, store owners, store owners and warehouse distributors to develop our skills and strengthen relationships throughout the supply chain,” said Corey Bartlett .
Alliance channel partners were eager to engage with Auto Value and Bumper to Bumper attendees on the AAPEX floor, where vendors had completely revitalized the exhibit space with interactive training opportunities, contests and giveaways. “The buzz at the show was electric as we waited for Jackpot entrants to make their grand entrance on Wednesday morning,” said Kevin Reamer, Director of Sales at DRiV. Many vendors have also brought in additional staff to host interesting discussions inside their booths.
Jackpot participants shared their Channel Partners’ excitement for two full days of interactive training, engaging dialogue, and the chance to win big with Jackpot prizes and giveaways.
“As a store owner, AAPEX and the Aftermarket Jackpot Convention serve as the Super Bowl of the aftermarket industry,” said Bill Nalu, president of Interstate Auto Care of Madison Heights, Michigan. “The hands-on training and face-to-face interaction with the name brands we install is invaluable. We are grateful to Auto Value and Bumper to Bumper for creating this unique opportunity!”
The Jackpot Convention had started the previous night with a Polynesian troupe of hula girls, Hawaiian drummers and fire dancers. This island entertainment set up the grand prix theme of Hawaii travel. Attendees won entries to win an unforgettable Hawaiian vacation by visiting distribution partner booths at AAPEX. Later, Josh Blue of America’s Got Talent and Last Comic Standing, headlined that night.
Jackpot co-hosts JC Washbish and Alliance Marketing Director Jim Holik also introduced the Auto Value and Bumper Technician of the Year finalists for the United States. These 11 technicians were highlighted each evening. Finally, Canada’s Automotive Value Technician of the Year, Brent Mattern, of Mainline Fleet Service, and customer of Alliance member Auto Electric, was also recognized.
The following night, Aftermarket Jackpot attendees gathered for dinner and performances, including the Photon Krew, LED-equipped light dancers. As part of the show, the Alliance announced Auto Value Latin America Technician of the Year, Jose Ramirez, owner of Servicio Automotriz Ramirez and customer of Alliance member Triple-A. Washbish and Holik offered prizes to several attendees before Adam Carolla took the stage.
The Jackpot ended Thursday with a second full day of visiting AAPEX. Entertainment that evening included an Elvis impersonator, a live band and a mainstay of the Las Vegas Strip: The Twins – Dueling Pianos Show.
In addition to the entertainment, Washbish and Holik recognized several key stage winners. The first was Mandy Balk, the 2022 Babcox Counterperson of the Year. Balk is the store manager of Auto Value Thorpe, in Thorpe, Wisconsin. Babcox’s Dean Martin and Jim Merle stayed on stage to talk about aftermarketNews and Store ownermagazines – both of which had been dumped throughout the week. Thursday evening, Store owner magazine was waiting for each participant in their place. What they didn’t know was that 20 lucky magazines had received a $500 golden ticket.
After Balk’s presentation, the Auto Value and Bumper to Bumper Technician of the Year program, sponsored by DRiV, highlighted the evening. “It’s an honor to recognize top technicians from across the United States,” said DRiV’s Reamer, who joined Washbish, Holik and the 11 Technician of the Year finalists on stage.
Also in attendance was Tim Zilke, President and CEO of the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. “The class of finalists this year was phenomenal. They should all be proud to represent their stores,” Zilke said. Technician of the Year finalists were scheduled to take a custom ASE exam earlier in July. Their final test scores determined the winner.
Ross Colket, owner of Colket Technical Services in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, and Eastern Warehouse customer, has been named the 2022 Auto Value and Bumper to Bumper Technician of the Year. Colket previously served on the Alliance Service Center Advisory Board, where he helped found the Technician of the Year program. In a full-loop moment, he was crowned this year’s champion.
In the final moments of the Thursday night Aftermarket Jackpot final, the stage was filled with the final round of grand prize winners. With envelopes in hand, attendees simultaneously opened their envelopes to reveal Channel Partner vendors’ Hawaiian trips. As the awards were announced, pyrotechnics and confetti filled the stage. And that’s why they call it Jackpot!