The annual Texas Auto Body Trade Show, held by Auto Body Association of Texas (ABAT), is coming up this weekend with the Big Shots Competition, exhibits, a car show, tool demonstrations, and more plus two celebrity guests.
ABAT Executive Director Jill Tuggle told Repairer Driven News the biggest change this year that attendees will see is “growth in certain areas but particularly in our Big Shots Competition.”
“That competition was the brainchild of Burl [Richards, ABAT president] and something that he was very excited about a few years ago,” Tuggle said. “In the first go-around, we didn’t have the time to pull it off. Last year, we decided to move forward with it and it went much better than we had expected and garnered so much attention and so much excitement that we have decided to continue with that but make it even bigger. One of the things that was important to Burl is that it be realistic. While we have to work within certain parameters, being inside of a convention center rather than a body shop, that presented some difficulties and some challenges for us in the planning process but we’re trying to stay true to that — wanting to make it realistic and accurate.”
Competitors will show off their skills in painting, estimating, seam sealer replication and plastic repair, or glue-pull dent removal. Winners will receive a $1,000 cash prize and tools, and will have their photo taken for the cover of Texas Automotive Magazine. While the competition was almost entirely virtual last year, that won’t be the case this year, Tuggle said. The preliminary qualifying rounds will be virtual, then the finalists will move on to a live competition on either the show floor or at the nearby Sherwin Williams Training Facility, where the final painting round will be held.
One of the celebrity guests at the show, Horny Mike from the History Channel’s “Counting Cars,” will judge the painting contest. Show attendees will meet Mike and Dave Kindig from Motortrend TV’s “Bitchin’ Rides” and might also get the chance to rub elbows with them at the show’s after party. Those who are interested can pick up an invitation to the after party at ABAT’s booth.
The education sessions at the show will, as always, focus on current issues in the industry, Tuggle said. There will be an OEM panel on electric vehicles, a panel about the current technician shortage, and – new this year – a legislative luncheon. A panel will speak on what the industry can expect out of the upcoming Texas legislative session and will discuss some of the industry’s past challenges. Panelists will be Texas Reps. Travis Clardy (R-District 11), and Ramón Romero, Jr. (D-District 90); Ware Wendell, Texas Watch executive director; Jacob Smith, ABAT lobbyist; Pete Tagliapietra, Datatouch managing director; and Richards.
“We’re also going to take some time to educate them [legislators] on some of the issues that are really at the forefront of our industry right now,” including data privacy, Tuggle said.
In addition to the three panel discussions, the nine classes offered at the show will cover everything from prevailing rate to total loss, data sharing, billable hours, repair planning, and more. At least three of the classes are already sold out.
There will also be a special event for women who attend the show or are the companions of attendees that includes a $20 wine tasting and free charcuterie board on Saturday from 1-3 p.m.
Featured and secondary ABAT and trade show logos (Credit: ABAT)