The Nuts And Bolts Of Automechanika Johannesburg With Neil Piper

The nuts and bolts of Automechanika Johannesburg with Neil Piper

The nuts and bolts of Automechanika Johannesburg with Neil Piper Automechanika Johannesburg 2023 will be held from 5 to 7 September at the Johannesburg Expo Center (Nasrec). It is part…

The Nuts And Bolts Of Automechanika Johannesburg With Neil Piper

The nuts and bolts of Automechanika Johannesburg with Neil Piper

Automechanika Johannesburg 2023 will be held from 5 to 7 September at the Johannesburg Expo Center (Nasrec). It is part of a network of automotive trade fairs that is held worldwide in 13 countries. It features manufacturers from across the automotive sector, including parts and components, repair and maintenance, electronics, accessories, car wash, care and reconditioning, management and digital solutions as well as tyres and wheels, safari and off-road vehicles. Automechanika Johannesburg is organised by Messe Frankfurt South Africa.

Bodyshop News Africa spoke to Neil Piper, Head of Marketing and Content at Messe Frankfurt South Africa, to get the inside track on this iconic trade fair.

Automechanika is touted as the “leading international trade fair for the automotive service industry”. From this unique position and the insights you have gained, can you give us an overview of what this industry in SA looks like and how it compares internationally?

South Africa is one of the elite club members of the TOP20 car manufacturing countries, and as such organizing an Automechanika in South Africa means we are operating in the duality of parts manufacturing: the OEM side as well as the aftermarket, which we cater to with our show. Within the aftermarket, we address both the supply chain and distribution/trade and the commercial end users, like the workshops, body shops, mechanics, and dealerships.

To round off the business side, we also cooperate with leading associations and government organisations to ensure full-scale sector participation.

The surrounding countries on the other hand are more import-based consumption markets, so here we mainly cater to the trade element.

With Automechanika Johannesburg, we represent the South African as well as the Pan-African perspective. There are increasingly strong trade relations within the African continent, also thanks to the AfcFTA, and we support this trade by bringing in other African manufacturing countries.

What are the greatest obstacles in planning and hosting a trade fair of this nature and magnitude?

We are in the business of building momentum, and the momentum takes 12-18 months to build. It is a complex coordination of international and domestic participants that accumulates into a highly focused three days of engagement. If done well, we would have generated hundreds of millions of Rands worth of business for the sector and saved senior executives hundreds of days of travel. In essence, a trade show allows the exhibitors to meet with a large number of their existing clients, sign up new business, find new partners, launch products, promote their brand in the market, and even present themselves as an attractive employer. If all of these activities were done in isolation, it would require a much higher budget to achieve the same outcome.

How long does it take to plan the annual Automechanika, how many staff are involved, and which resources are taxed the most in the course setting up the trade fair?

Our lead time is 12-18 months and initially, the show team and marketing team are the most active on the sales and networking side. Gradually, the operations and logistics team gets involved, as the exhibitors start preparing their participation. Eventually, the operations team and an army of contractors are moving on-site to get the show set up. All in all, 15-20 staff are involved in the overall show, with additional resources required in the lead-up and during the event. On-site, about a hundred staff are involved.

Last count the Automechanika fairs were being hosted in a staggering 13 countries. Does each country’s fair have its own unique character? In other words, do you have carte blanche to cater to the local market, or is there synergy between the 13 fairs each year? Is there a central global planning body, or is it a case of each to his own?

The Automechanika Brand, which is the largest exhibition brand in the world across all industries, is globally managed by the Brand Team in Frankfurt, with the strong involvement of the local show teams around the world.

The concept, the structure, and the calendar are all centrally coordinated. But yes, each local Automechanika has its very own flavors and unique features.

Firstly, markets differ based on their local vs international content. In South Africa, we are fortunate to have a large local manufacturing base and an equally large import/export component.

Each country has a very specific vehicle fleet, almost like a fingerprint, and depending on the origin of these vehicles, there are specific aftermarket suppliers that are highly relevant to that market.

For example: over the last 40 years, Brazil sold hundreds of thousands of VWs to Iraq. Until today, there is still a strong interest by Iraqi importers to buy from Brazilian spare parts manufacturers. And of course, these interactions happen at Automechanika Dubai.

On the South African side, there are obvious import/export destinations such as Europe, the US, and India, as well as the neighboring countries. But there are also significant trade relations with South America and Australia. Automechanika Johannesburg is the place where all of this comes together.

Why should stakeholders in the industry, especially ours (the body repair industry), attend Automechanika?

Apart from the obvious networking opportunities, exposure to the latest technologies and trends would certainly be an additional and important benefit of attending the show. The body repair industry is constantly evolving with new technologies and methodologies. Automechanika showcases the latest innovations, tools, and equipment, offering attendees the chance to see them firsthand.

Exhibitors often demonstrate their products and methods. These sessions can provide valuable knowledge and skills that are directly applicable to the body repair industry.

With hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of attendees, Automechanika is a fertile ground for business development. Body repair professionals can discover new products, negotiate deals, and even find new markets for their services.

Due to the international participants at the show, Automechanika Johannesburg helps deepen the understanding of the global perspective: where are the manufacturers heading and what does that mean for the body repair industry?

What does the South African Automotive Service Industry gain from an event like Automechanika?

The different branches of the automotive industry are very well organized in South Africa throughout their individual associations. At Automechanika Johannesburg, all of these branches get together as well as the professional end-users.

It is a rare moment to refresh business relationships with existing clients at scale, build new relationships and also develop an understanding of the current state of the industry and where it is heading towards.

What is the real picture on the ground in terms of demand for electric vehicles? How prepared are the workshops for what is coming? Apart from the sales benefits and positive impact on future business, a trade show helps re-align the corporate strategy and verify the assumptions that it was based on.

Highlights at this year’s show?

The CEO breakfast hosted by the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency (GGDA) and supported by the AIDC, will take place on the first morning of Automechanika and will host key stakeholders in the sector and will address the pressing issues that will drive the sector forward.

This year, as in previous years, Automechanika is an important platform for the broader sector and will once again host a range of conferences including (but not limited to) The Collision Repairers Association (CRA), South African Motor Body Repairers’ Association (SAMBRA), Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA )and the Right to Repair(R2R), Vehicle Testing Association (VTA), The Automotive Remanufacturers Association (ARA), Tyre, Equipment, Parts Association (TEPA), The South African Bus Operators Association (SABOA) and the Fuel retailers Association( FRA).

Over above the Automechanika Innovation Awards will be taking place. Innovation is all about forward thinking. It starts with a new idea and culminates in its successful implementation. It could be a new way of doing things or a new product, but the end goal is to add value to the market, the industry, and all relevant stakeholders. And this, in a nutshell, is what the Automechanika Innovation Awards are all about. Moreover, it provides creators, manufacturers, importers, or distributors of innovative new products an exclusive platform to showcase their concepts to the world.

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