25 Feb 2024

These boots are made for walking…

I’m stepping out this month; Footloose and fancy-free. Well, I think the fancies are actually quite expensive in the eating areas at the NEC, but I’m sure I could stretch to some sort of fairy cake, to go with my coffee. That’s right, I’m planning my visit to Automechanika Birmingham!

I went to the UK Garage and Bodyshop Event, which was from the same organisers, and after two years of being stuck inside as a result of the pandemic, that was great, but it was only one hall. This year, the full-size Automechanika Birmingham event is back. When it was announced, I was straight on the website getting myself a ticket. It comes with breakfast you know. What is it with me and food? Anyway, once I am there, apart from making sure I stay fed, I need to have my most comfortable walking shoes. You go a long way at the NEC, and that is a hard floor, so you need to make sure you have a solid footing. When I last spoke to the Editor of Aftermarket, I pointed this out. His response? He told me about a new pair of brogues he was planning to “break-in at the show.” New shoes when you are walking all day? And to think he went to university. Talk about the difference between knowledge and wisdom. I bet I see him walking barefoot before my day is over. You should keep an eye out for that too if you attend.

Of course, there are more reasons to go than that. There are a host of top-drawer speakers discussing all the issues that impact on our industry, like vehicle electrification, the MOT, the importance of training and much more. In fact, just by going you can even get training. There is so much to learn everywhere at the event. After I was at the full-size event, the last time it was on in 2019 I came back absolutely buzzing with ideas. I am sure this year will have the same effect on me.

When it was on between 2016 and 2019, it was an annual event, and I remember being told it was going to be biennial after that, meaning happening every other year, interspersed with the relatively more “intimate” UK Garage and Bodyshop Event. Intimate as in smaller, but it’s still an entire hall at the NEC, right? This is a big industry, even if we are spread out across thousands upon thousands of small businesses, and it reflects the scale at which we operate collectively.

Wow, that felt profound, I might need to collect my thoughts after that. Alas, there is no time, as to make sure I can make the most of my time at the show, I am making sure everything here is ship-shape before I go. Now, if only I had a boat instead of a garage, and then I wouldn’t be worrying all the time. Actually, that’s not true. I have a really good team, and when I am not here, they often don’t really notice, apart from the fact that everything runs far more smoothly. Should I worry about that?

Anyway, I’ll see you at the show, unless you see me first probably…