The best independent garages from all over the UK and Ireland have attended the second AutoInform Live event, a weekend of innovative technical and hands-on training, powered by OESAA.
The Original Equipment Suppliers Aftermarket Association (OESAA), which promotes the benefits of fitting original equipment (OE) parts, was the driving force behind AutoInform Live – an event organised in conjunction with the UK’s leading technical trainer Frank Massey to provide visitors with a ‘Hear it, See it and Touch it’ experience.
The interactive weekend, held at the state-of-the-art GTG Training Academy in Wolverhampton on November 28 & 29, attracted more than 220 delegates.
It included live on-vehicle training, demonstrations and diagnostics, IMI certified courses, troubleshooting tips and business know-how from industry experts, advice on how to repair and replace the latest OE parts using the best tools for the job and fit and forget technology.
And it was voted a big success by delegates who took part in training modules that covered chassis, business acumen, diagnostics, electrics, engine, filtration and transmission – all delivered by the leading trainers in their field.
Delegate Kelvin Tuttle, a technician from Jacksons Car Sales, of Shipdham, Norfolk, said: “I thought the event was very well organised with a good variety of courses. The presentations were of a high standard and very professional.
“It is hugely important that garages keep up to date with the new vehicle technology that is coming into the market-place. Really if you don’t keep up you may as well get out now as you won’t have a future in the industry.”
Philip Hill, owner of Hills Autos in Caernarfon, North Wales, attended AutoInform Live with his colleague Laurence Challinor.
He said: “Vehicle technology is changing all the time and the technology that starts in the main dealers is increasingly filtering down into independent garages, consequently we all need to keep up to date with what is happening now to safeguard our future.”
Colleague Laurence added: “The event is very well organised and I have enjoyed a number of the courses, particularly learning more about sensors. Obviously you cannot learn everything you need to know in two days, but it all helps to keep you up to speed with the latest developments.
“All trainers so far have been very good. They all have their own ways of presenting so that makes it more interesting.”
Aidan Duggan, a motor mechanic from Shannonside in Tipperary, Ireland, attended AutoInform Live for the second consecutive year.
He said: “I think the event is excellent. The venue and the organisation are fantastic. It is really good value and much cheaper than attending some training courses in Ireland. Last year I learned a lot about DSG clutches which enabled me to pick up extra work after the event and this year I hope to learn about other topics that will help in the business.”
Jon Rodgers, who runs Rodgers Repairs in Newton Abbot, Devon, also attended for the second time. He said: “Training is the key to being successful. People who don’t will go out of business. It is good to hear direct from the original equipment parts manufacturers about their products and about the new technology that is coming in. I always fit OE parts as I don’t want to do the same job twice, I just want to fit and forget.”
GROUPAUTO and Euro Car Parts, both major UK distributors of car parts for all makes of cars and light commercial vehicles, brought more than 60 customers and key team members to the event.
GROUPAUTO is very supportive of AutoInform Live and as an organisation uses Frank Massey as one of the training providers for its AutoCare garage network.
Maria McCullough, Network Manager, GROUPAUTO, said: “Training is a huge part of the package that we provide to AutoCare garages, and so events like the AutoInform Live are extremely important to the market-place and can only strengthen and help our network to keep up with ever-changing technology.
“The fact that the event is all certificated and accredited, and supported by so many OE suppliers who in addition are also GROUPAUTO approved suppliers is a bonus and helps to push out the training message.
“AutoCare garages that attended the event were able to use their training allowance from AutoCare to attend the event. We were delighted with the attendance from our network garages and feedback that we have received since has been excellent.
“As a company we will continue to support these events as they can only strengthen our relationships with suppliers and more importantly continue to get out the message about the need for keeping up to speed on training and new technology.”
Euro Car Parts invests heavily in customer and staff training and this year has provided more than 3300 training places all over the country.
Martin Gray, CEO, said: “We invited technicians and garage owners, as well as branch and head office staff, to the event as we believe it is vital they learn about new technology directly from the original equipment suppliers.
“It’s impossible to learn everything in just two days, but events like this give delegates a good opportunity to begin to understand more about new technology so they can plan their next steps. It is vital that technicians invest in training. People give up their own time to attend AutoInform Live which shows their commitment and let’s face it if they do not do it the boat will sail without them.
“We made a point of talking to customers to ask them if they would come next time? The answer was a resounding, unanimous yes. It taught people, it opened eyes to new technologies and built relationships. We’re looking forward to the next one!”
OESAA Chairman Nigel Morgan, Managing Director of Schaeffler Automotive Aftermarket (UK) Ltd, owners of the LuK clutch, INA tensioner & FAG wheel bearing OE brands, said: “We are delighted that major distributors such as Euro Car Parts and GROUPAUTO brought so many new delegates alongside the forward thinking independent distributors that supported us last year.
“We think it is vital that independent garages get the right hands-on training and we are all determined to make sure that next year’s AutoInform Live builds on this year’s success and offers the right level of courses, not only to attract new delegates but also to still make it attractive to those who have already attended.”
Tim Howes, Deputy General Manager – Supply Chain & Technical Service, NGK Spark Plugs (UK) Ltd, said the company focused its training at AutoInform Live across its OE spark plug, glow plug and NTK Lambda and exhaust gas temperature sensors (EGTS).
He said: “It is important that as an original equipment parts supplier we give delegates details of not only the latest new technology, but also what is coming in the future, which will hopefully fill a gap in their knowledge. It also enables them to ask us directly about our parts and any technical queries they may have.”
Ken Read, Marketing Manager of fellow OESAA member Mann & Hummel (UK) Ltd, said AutoInform Live enables the OE manufacturers to demonstrate to technicians the difference between OE parts and some inferior products that are available in the market-place.
He said: “The technicians who attend AutoInform Live are from the upper echelons of the industry. They have shown their commitment and have taken time out from their businesses to attend the event and to learn more about the latest technology changes and issues.
“It is very satisfying when you can show them first-hand the difference in quality between OE and non-OE parts as those attending are the decision-makers, the people who are serious about their businesses, and to teach them something new is very gratifying.”
Frank Massey said he had received positive feedback from exhibitors and delegates alike who felt the event was even better than last year’s. And he vowed that the organisers would strive to make next year’s event better still.
He said: “Each time we hold AutoInform Live we learn something new and our intention is to make more improvements next time. We already have a lot of ideas on how to improve on what has been a very good event. We need to appeal to new people and also the ones who have already supported us and I’m hopeful that we can attract around 300 delegates next time.”
Delegates attended a gala dinner at Wolverhampton Wanderers FC’s Molineux stadium where a raffle in aid of motor industry charity BEN raised £2125.
More information on OESAA is available at www.oe-suppliers.org