A new south-of-the-border aftermarket industry convention is making its debut this summer with the inaugural edition of the July 9-12 Latin Auto Parts Expo at the Atlapa Convention Center in Panama City, Panama.
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A series of educational seminars and business conferences will be offered to augment an array of trade show booths aimed at providing manufacturers, distributors and retailers direct access to the Latin American and Caribbean OEM, replacement parts and tuning markets. The plan is to foster “a warm and personal setting that forges long-lasting commercial and personal relationships,” according to show director Linda Bassitt.
“Our goal is to do what doesn’t currently exist – a regional auto parts show; everyone meets once a year in Panama,” she explains. “Panama is a central location to get to, and you can meet exhibitors that you haven’t met at other shows.”
Bassitt contends that the previous exposition offerings throughout the region fall short of delivering comprehensive coverage. “Before, you had to go to the individual countries because the buyers are usually from the countries where the show is being held. We started this because we think the industry is lacking a regional show, and this is much easier and more effective.”
The categories to be featured include air conditioning, automotive lighting, LED lighting, electrical systems and batteries, electronics, cooling systems, friction and brake systems, GPS systems, undercar, new and remanufactured replacement parts, HD sound and video systems, suspension and front end systems, engine and transmission parts, chemicals and chemical fluids, equipment and tools, diagnostic systems, hand tools, machine shop equipment, service and installation equipment, waxes and polishes, computer systems and software, paint and body, retail and warehouse fixtures, high performance auto parts and various enhancers.
“We’re kind of like mixing SEMA and AAPEX all in one show,” says Bassitt, citing the positive reaction generated at the expo’s booth at November’s AAPEX event in Las Vegas. “It’s a unique show.”
Exhibiting or attending can be especially informative and rewarding for aftermarket businesses that are considering entry into the region. “If you’re new, you can step your foot in the water without a lot of risk,” says Bassitt. “It’s a lot easier to deal with all the Latin American and Caribbean distributors.”
Among the exhibitors already on board is Miami-based Rapid Parts, Inc. Founded in 1976, the company has been mainly focused on selling its lines of Volkswagen and Audi components, performance parts and accessories in the U.S. and Canada. “We’re going to tackle the Central-South and Caribbean,” reports general manager Robert Tanon.
Eager to network with key regional business executives and pursue enhanced distribution capabilities, “Panama is very close to everything,” he observes, “it’s a strategic location.”
“If you are looking to expand your market share to these regions, then this is definitely the show to be at,” says Bassitt.