Smartphone Apps you should have ready for AAPEX / SEMA

In today’s business travel world the question of “Can I successfully travel with just a phone and tablet” has become the great debate.  I have told myself over and over that it has to be possible to make a business trip with just a tablet; instead of, adding 4.5 pounds of Laptop to the luggage.  Well, although I am convinced it is possible…I have not been able to actually leave home without the laptop.

Do I need the laptop? Most likely not.  As long as I don’t have to type a multi-page custom contract or perform in depth spreadsheet analysis, I am probably just fine working with a tablet.  In actuality, with the plethora of apps offered in both Itunes and Android App stores one really can streamline trade show activities easier with a phone or tablet.  Let’s look at some apps you should definitely download prior to leaving home.

1.  gateguruGateguru – Most airport hub based attendees will enjoy direct flights to McCarron International in Las Vegas; however, for those of you who must make connections, GateGuru is a great app to have on your phone.  The app will help you navigate terminals based on gates, food, sundries, airport clubs, etc.

2.  uber-iconUber – You are at the airport and you don’t want to wait in the 200 person line for a cab and you really can’t justify spending $100 for a 10 minute cab ride in a limo over to the hotel.  Well, Uber is your best option BUT may not be an option at all.  Let’s see what Judge Douglas Herndon rules today at 9am Vegas time.  Uber launched October 24th and within hours, Uber drivers were losing their vehicles to impound due to the muscle of the Transportation Authority and Taxi Union.  As of right now, Uber drivers are still operating in Clark County and are definitely the quickest option to get from McCarron to any hotel on the strip.

3.  vegasindoormapsVegas Maps – So you have landed and are headed to your hotel.  These small cities called Casino Resorts can be puzzling at best due to the commotion around you all the time.  Vegas Maps has a free version that has, take a guess…casino hotel / resort maps.  Looking for the restaurants? Check Vegas Maps.  Need a Starbucks coffee that first morning at 4am because back home it’s 7am?  Vegas Maps.

4.  easy-sign-iconSign Easy – It’s Tuesday morning and you wake for the show only to find a couple of PDF files in your inbox that need to be signed, scanned and emailed/faxed back to the office.  Why go crazy looking for a printer when you can use SignEasy?  SignEasy is an app that lets you capture and place your signature from you phone / tablet into a PDF so that you do not have to print and sign.

5.  aapexshowlogoAAPEX Show App – It’s actually a really nice tool to have.  I have been able to identify several booths where I have meetings and already have them marked in the app for quick reference on the show flow.  Signed up for one of the education course but forgot the time and location?  No problem, open the app and in seconds you have the list of events with time and location.  The show has done a great job with this app.

6.  turboscanlogoTurboScan – You are at your booth and upon looking at your newly printed brochures, you find a critical typo that must be corrected asap.  You take out your pen, mark up the brochure and use TurboScan to quickly snap a photo of it.  TurboScan will take that photo and convert it either to a PDF or Jpeg (your choice) and you can even email the PDF right from the app.

7.  Penultimate-LogoPenultimate – Time for a meeting with clients.  You sit down at the table and instead of the typical pen and paper, you pull out a stylus and begin to write normally on your Ipad.  Penultimate is an app that captures your hand written notes on a virtual notepad in your Ipad.  Ditch the legal pad, capture direct to the machine for reference later.

8.  xecurrencylogoXE Currency – You have to go to a couple of meetings on the first floor of the show.  Most people don’t need an explanation as to why a currency converter would be beneficial on the first floor of the show.  XE Currency is a great little app that shows current FX rates and will instantly provide up to a 1 year historical.  Wondering why your export sales in US Dollars have tanked?  Check the FX rate and quickly identify currency devaluation issues.

9.  docusign-icon_140_141_c1DocuSign – You have had several meetings and have reviewed the notes with everyone who needs to approve a decision on a proposal.  As a former boss of mine used to say to me, “If you don’t have the P.O., don’t come home.”, now you have the ability to obtain a signed, legally binding contract right there at the show.  DocuSign has been used for years in the RealEstate market.  This program allows you to upload a contract, mark the signature / initial locations and send to the appropriate people for signature.  They sign the document electronically and you have an immediate trail of signatures.  The client can sign off right from their phone or tablet.

10.  20141029081431751_easyicon_net_72OpenTable – Now that you have made it through the long trade show day and you have those electronic, legally binding signatures for your new projects, it’s time to celebrate with a nice dinner.  Forgot to make a reservation prior to the trip?  No worries, don’t run out of the show with the cattle herd at 5pm, book a reservation from your booth using Open Table.  The app provides open reservation slots at all the main restaurants around town.  A few clicks and you are all set, it even drops the reservation onto your calendar.

There are way more apps that will be used during the show and we know we have left out several more that may be of assistance but the apps above will definitely help make life on the show floor a bit easier.

As always, if you have any questions or need outside assistance with your aftermarket operation in Mexico, please don’t hesitate to contact us: or call us at:  248-792-0108


Overseas Automotive Council – Why you need to be a member.

Whether you manage a company that has reached a point where export sales have finally become part of your strategic plan or maybe you have been assigned an International Sales position, you will need some outside support.  It doesn’t matter how you are directed to the international sales effort, what matters are the industry tools you take advantage of to grow your sales.

In Mexico, there are several trade associations worth looking into joining and we will discuss those associations at a later date.  Since we are less than a week away from the largest automotive industry show in the United States, let’s focus on a U.S. organization focused on supporting companies who wish to export around the world.

The Overseas Automotive Council, a sub-group of AASA (Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association) is focused on the following:

OAC is one of the oldest and most unique organizations in the global automotive aftermarket. Established in 1923 by a group of industry professionals as an automotive club, OAC’s mission is:



  • To promote the sale of automotive products and services exported from North America
  • To enhance the prestige and goodwill of the global aftermarket industry
  • To promote friendly trade relationships, cultural understanding and mutually beneficial cooperation among those engaged in the automotive aftermarket industry

OAC strives to be the premier international community for all North American manufacturers and exporters, and all international importers, distributors and agents who participate in the automotive aftermarket. 


If you look at the board of governors, it is a Who’s Who list of the heavy hitter International Sales and Operations Directors from several of the largest automotive aftermarket companies in the industry.  Let’s put it this way, these men and women will forget more about the international automotive aftermarket than most people will ever learn about it.  If you were to add up all their years of experience working with the international markets, we are probably looking at more than 250 years of experience amongst the 12 governors.  Why would you not want to be a member of an organization that holds so much knowledge and such a wide network of members across the globe?

For as long as I can remember, OAC has held their reception Tuesday night of Industry Week and anyone involved in international sales or operations is making a mistake by not attending.  This event provides a wonderful opportunity to meet and network with OAC members from all over the world.

International Sales / Operations Managers, if you don’t do anything else this upcoming week in Vegas, attend the OAC Reception.  It will be held in the Palazzo Hotel at 6pm on November 4th.  Click here for more information – OAC Global Reception

If you require any additional support for your international efforts in Mexico, contact us today: or call us at:  248-792-0108

Trade Shows Mexico – Which are worth attending?

Fifteen years ago, if a manufacturer was not attending the PAACE Show in Mexico City, it was considered the kiss of death.  No different than the Industry Week in Las Vegas every November.  Most manufacturers already have their distribution network fairly well organized and the shows become more of a see and be seen vs. actually negotiating deals.  The PAACE Show in Mexico City used to be the most important show to attend in Mexico.  Not only were manufacturers able to cut deals at the show, there was also the final day of the show when automotive vocational school students attended and were able to learn about the different brands in the market.

In addition to the PAACE Show, the RUJAC Show in Guadalajara has always been another important show for manufacturers to attend in late August / early September.  This show is put on by the Distributors Association of Jalisco and has always had a great crowd mix of professional installers every day in the late afternoon / early evening.

A new show sprang up a few years back in Mexico City, Expo INA and has quickly become more important than the PAACE Automechanika Show.  In fact, if you must choose one event in Mexico City, our recommendation is to invest in Expo INA and not PAACE.  Below is a summary of the three main expos in Mexico.

Something to think about…AAPEX / SEMA Show.  Have you noticed that the largest group of interested buyers during Industry Week in Vegas are from Latin America.  Instead of, greet, grip and grin at the show, why not dedicate a portion of your booth to Spanish speaking visitors.  You most likely won’t be writing many orders at the show for US based distributors; however, you may be able to ink new distributors across Latin America at the show.  Create bi-lingual brochures, think about staffing the booth with a bi-lingual sales person and identify the products you have that are considered “critical coverage” in Latin America.  With a little upfront work, you may turn AAPEX from a sleeper to a tremendous success regarding additional business.

If you need help with your marketing plan in Mexico, contact us today at: or 248-792-0108

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AutoZone Hits 400 in Mexico!

I will be the first person to stand up and say I never thought this would happen 15 years ago.  I remember clear as day the first visit I received from an AutoZoner at the trade show booth in Guadalajara, Mexico back in the early 2000’s.  I knew AZ at the time had a few stores along the border but they were kind of the outsider looking in to a relatively closed market, led by VW, Nissan and some odd subcompact big 3 vehicles.  We (Mexican Aftermarket) knew their size in the states but we also knew that the Mexican market was so different from a vehicle population point of view that AZ would struggle early on.  That day, Mr. B from AZ told me, “We are going to open 200 stores in the next 2-3 years.” and I thought to myself, “not gonna happen”.  Time went on and the market watched AutoZone struggle through the cultural barrier, supply chain headaches, product mix issues and everything else you could imagine a US firm pushing a US style store into the Republic of Mexico would face.

Fast forward 12 years to 2014 and WOW, these men and women have pulled off an exponential growth across the entire country.  They did not pack up and go back to the United States when life was difficult early on, rather, they continued to invest in the country both in buildings but more importantly, their internal culture across their employee base.  As with most very large companies on the US side of the border, there is a corporate culture created to uphold the mission statements and values / beliefs of the organization.  AutoZone is where they are today in Mexico due to hard work and investment in human capital.  Do they face the same turnover issues that most parts stores will see at a retail level, of course they do; however, their Centro de Atencion de Tiendas (CAT as most know it) in Monterrey houses a tremendous group of talent that is focused on growing the business through supporting the stores across country.  From merchandizing to logistics, government regulations, HR and Quality…AutoZone has done everything necessary to grow exponentially in Mexico.AUTO-ZONE-18

There are several Aftermarket retailers / wholesalers in Mexico who have their act together and enjoy nice chunks of the market.  We should not forget what several families have accomplished over the past 60-70 years in Mexico with other solid distribution businesses but at the same time, 0 to 400 stores in 16 years when the next closest competitor lags behind by 275 stores is an accomplishment that should be respected in the industry.

What will the final store count be…that is something that I believe has a TBD as an answer right now.  What I believe is safe to say is that the final count won’t be 401.  To all the employees of AutoZone, especially those who I have had the opportunity to work with over the years and especially to the first one I met way back when, Mr. A.B….Congratulations and best of luck on future expansion!  You made this doubter turn into a believer.