The Collision Repair Expo (CRE), co-located with the Australian Auto Aftermarket Expo, returned to Melbourne in April 2022, with thousands of trade visitors travelling from across Australia and New Zealand to experience the country’s premier industry event.
Stuart Charity, CEO of the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA), said the twin expos exceeded the association’s expectation. “There was an incredible buzz across the Expo having the industry back together. The quality and variety of exhibitors was exceptional and to see the enthusiasm of trade visitors networking face-to-face was truly appreciated by all. The feedback about the Expo has been overwhelmingly positive from exhibitors and visitors,” Charity said.
The two expos allowed participants to reconnect and network in person after two years of lockdown, with the public joining trade visitors for the first time on the Saturday.
“Opening to the public on Saturday alongside our trade visitors was a new initiative, which added an exciting vibe and allowed us to showcase the best of the industry to the next generation of automotive technicians. Seeing young attendees utterly enthralled by the stands and demonstrations and hearing their commitment to joining our pool of talent in years to come was very uplifting,” said Charity.
With the theme ‘The Future Is Here’, the AAAA said the twin expos were designed around the most comprehensive seminar programme in the event’s history. Sessions focused on topics such as mandatory data sharing, the skills shortage, electric vehicles, business development, digital marketing, customer service, and technical issues.
The all-new Workshop of the Future Pavilion held daily sessions to help fast-track the automotive industry’s understanding of, and transition to, servicing and repairing the future generation of vehicles, covering the internal combustion engine and electric vehicle car parc.
More than 270 of the industry’s leading brands exhibited at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre, showcasing the latest vehicle repair and servicing equipment, parts, tools and accessories, new technology, and trends.
The body repair industry’s leading suppliers were pleased to return to in-person shows, including major CRE sponsor SAPE Group.
“Wow, what a great event – it really felt special to get back to an in-person show like the Collision Repair Expo,” said SAPE Director Paul McMartin. “Considering the events of the past few years, the Collision Repair Expo felt like one part trade show, one part industry reunion – the atmosphere was excellent right from the very first day.”
Other exhibitors also welcomed the opportunity to meet with industry members.
“It was a great opportunity for everyone to reconnect with other participants in the collision repair industry from all around the country,” said Carl Bizon, Chief Executive Officer of AMA Group.
I-CAR’s Jason Trewin said that after months of preparation, I-CAR staff from Queensland and New South Wales travelled to meet up with the Melbourne team as a collective group for the CRE. “There was no doubt that the first Collision Repair Expo in three years would garner a higher level of anticipation and excitement, with the I-CAR Australia team being of no exception,” Trewin added.
Scott Croaker, Head of Operations at Fix Network, also welcomed the re-establishment of in-person events. “We were able to let the industry know that we are still here and – despite two years of COVID and restrictions – even stronger and continuing to grow. The event also enabled us to reconnect face to face with industry partners and open up new opportunities by meeting potential partners and prospects,” Croaker said.
Michelle Morgan, Business Development Manager AAM Pacific at Saint-Gobain, was pleased the public were able to attend the event. “It was excellent to have face-to-face interactions with the industry after three years away – there was so much to talk about and catch-up on. We were delighted with the attendance with a great range of diverse visitors to the stand. The open day to the public on the Saturday was a good addition given Melbourne was abuzz with the Grand Prix coinciding.”
Sherwin-Williams was also pleased. “We had a great response to our stand from attendees and it was fantastic to be able to catch up with customers, business partners and other exhibitors in person after a number of years,” the company said.
Kevin Woolerton, PPG Marketing Director ANZ, said the CRE was a very successful event for the company. “As well as being present as PPG, we were also joined by our partners Sata and Mirka, which made for non-stop activity throughout the three days,” he said.
Charity said he appreciated the efforts of Expo participants who made the event possible. “I’d [also] like to acknowledge the support of Auto Aftermarket Expo Major Sponsor Repco, and Collision Repair Expo Major Sponsor SAPE Group, and all of our valued partners and sponsors who helped us run this amazing industry event,” he added.