Car Parts & The Strip: 5 Highlights from AAPEX

On the last of my five nights in Las Vegas, I walked outside for some much needed fresh air. I had easily spent at least 119 of my previous 120 hours running around, between, and what sometimes felt like through the Marlboro aura of the Venetian Hotel and Sands Expo Center. It was both my first trip to Vegas and my first time working the annual Automotive Warehouse Distributors Association (AWDA) Conference and Automotive Aftermarket Parts Expo (AAPEX).

The dry Nevada air certainly felt refreshing in the chilly October night. As I walked the Strip (it was Halloween night), I had long since forgotten about my initial missed flight from NYC or my scrambled makeup flight that stopped in Philadelphia before off-roading through last week’s Nor’easter. Maybe it was because by then the week had turned out to be quite a success. Or maybe it was because I now had more important things to focus on, like the clown hanging out of the passenger-side window of a revving pickup on Las Vegas Boulevard.

Anyway, here are five highlights from my AAPEX week:

1. New Packaging Showcase Award 

As a key piece of the rebranding effort for its Standard brand, SMP’s marketing team and its agency created revamped packaging complete with a new logo and slogan. I had zero to do with the design and strategy of the rebranding effort (if it were up to me, I would have been tempted to choose a cardboard box and call it a day), but I did submit the new packaging into the New Packaging Showcase competition. When I learned that the Standard packaging had been named a winner for the Marketing category, I was extremely happy for all of SMP’s team members who put so much time, work, and stress into creating the box. It was a well deserved win.

Can we call it an award-winning rebranding effort?

2. Art Fisher Memorial Scholarship Award

Unlike the previous award, I actually had ZERO to do with SMP receiving the Art Fisher Memorial Scholarship Award, which was presented at the Opening Session of the AWDA Conference. Even so, it was rewarding to see our world-class training team receive recognition for providing such insightful and expansive training and education to the automotive aftermarket industry.

Awaiting the start of the AWDA Conference’s Opening Session

3. Our Massive Lobby Banner

A month or so before AAPEX, I received an email from an AAPEX representative stating that a 100-plus-foot ad placement had just become available in the lobby of the convention center. Because we were rebranding our three most popular and successful brands—Standard, Blue Streak, and Four Seasons—it was a no-brainer to reserve the placement to showcase our new logos and brand statements. In the end, the banner impressed. Just look at the faces on the people ascending the escalator.


4. Working the Booth

We didn’t make any major changes to our booth at the 2018 AAPEX Show but that didn’t prevent us from connecting with customers about our latest product offerings and marketing material. Throughout the three-day show, we had countless passersby visit our booth to ask questions and provide feedback. From a marketing perspective, it was an invaluable learning experience to hear directly from customers.

A few minutes before the doors opened on Day 1
We had a modified booth design to accommodate the Alliance Jackpot on Thursday
The modification included five tables with product demonstrations

5. Block 16 Food Hall at The Cosmopolitan 

In addition to reintroducing my body to fresh air, the purpose of my walk along the Strip was to check out Block 16 Food Hall at The Cosmopolitan. Opened this year during Labor Day Weekend, the food hall features five restaurants that are a “much-needed addition to Sin City’s culinary scene”, per Forbes. After much deliberation, I decided on a hot chicken sandwich from Nashville-based Hattie B’s Hot Chicken.

Nashville chicken in Nevada

For that night’s dessert and the next day’s breakfast, I picked up a half dozen (don’t judge!) of these Halloween creations from New Orleans-based District Donuts. The best tasting, best designed, and I’m assuming smartest donut was this brainy peanut butter and jelly creature.