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Automotive Industries spoke to Thomas Aukamm, director of Automechanika

The Automechanika fairs are well-known across the globe. Be it last year’s Automechanika Moscow, or this year’s Automechanika Roma which targets southern Europe or next year’ Automechanika Istanbul – these exhibitions have become a byword for the auto industry. The organizers, Messe Frankfurt, have been organizing fairs and exhibitions for over two decades now. It was around a decade ago that they launched the first international edition of the Automechanika fair.

Messe Frankfurt today holds nearly 113 events across the globe, 69 outside Germany. The company says that its Automechanika brand has built up a band of loyal exhibitors who travel across the globe along with fair, drumming up business in different countries. Many want to highlight their products to automobile and equipment manufacturers. However the company is clear that its biggest event is Automechanika Frankfurt – the first was held in 1971.

Each year, and in each edition, Automechanika focuses on a particular service or product. At the 20th edition of Automechanika Frankfurt, being held this September from the 16th to the 21st, the main theme will be global warming and its impact on the automotive aftermarket. Other Automechanika themes and conferences have included OEM/OES, parts, components and systems, electronics, supply and maintenance, garage, repair and service stations and this year the new topic of environment and recycling.

“What is the significance of the latest innovations in the fields of emissions protection and CO2 reduction for the parts market? What recommendations does the sector have for workshops, filling stations and their service offers? At the fair, visitors will find, for example, a green directory that draws attention to products distinguished by energy and material efficiency or advances in emissions protection. At the Automechanika Academy, too, experts will discuss the reaction of the trade to demands for CO2 reductions,” says Messe Frankfurt.

The exhibition is expected to attract 4600 exhibitors and around 160,000 trade visitors.

Held every two years, Automechanika Frankfurt offers trade visitors a unique range of products in the automobile parts, car wash, workshop and filling-station equipment, accessories and tuning sectors. The fair is unparalleled in terms of size and internationality with around 40 percent of trade visitors and 80 percent of exhibitors at the last event coming from outside Germany. Covering nearly 300,000 square metres of exhibition space (gross), the Automechanika occupies the whole of Frankfurt Fair and Exhibition Centre.

“Today, the Automechanika name is a seal of quality when it comes to trade fairs for automobile parts, for workshop and filling-station equipment and for accessories and tuning parts. The broad range of products to be seen is unparalleled. The basis of this success is the leading Automechanika fair in Frankfurt with its high degree of internationality on both the exhibitor and visitor sides, and its international reputation. The Frankfurt event is a pointer for questions of strategy and puts the focus on the right subjects and the right time. And this has been rewarded by an increase in the number of visitors from outside Germany,” says Messe Frankfurt.

Messe Frankfurt is Germany’s biggest fair and exhibition company and has annual revenues of 423 million Euros. The company has more than 1400 employees around the world and a global network of 14 subsidiaries, five branch offices and 48 international sales partners, which represent Messe Frankfurt in over 150 countries.

Automotive Industries spoke to Stephan Kurzawski, vice president of Messe Frankfurt and global brand manager, Automechanika.


AI: Looking back, what do you attribute the success of Automechanika to?

First of all, we look back on a long tradition: Frankfurt has been a renowned trade fair site for more than 800 years. In the past, traders and businesspeople met at the Römer town hall, while they later congregated at the new grounds by the Festhalle. Today, the Frankfurt exhibition grounds are the third largest in the world, with 578,000 square metres in total area, nine halls and an adjacent congress centre. Second we work closely together with a lot of associations within the industry who all contributed to the development of the brand Automechanika on different fields. The result is: The Automechanika today shows a unique range of products in the automobile parts, car washes, workshop and filling-station equipment, accessories and tuning sectors. Third we have built up a global network over the last twenty years comprising 14 subsidiaries, five branch offices and 48 International Sales Partners on four continents. 1400 employees support the brand Automechanika in over 150 countries in the world. That is a lot of know-how and manpower!

AI: What was the vision when the first Automechanika was held in the 70’s?

The first Automechanika was born “of necessity” and its success therefore all the more remarkable: in 1971, because of the crisis in the automobile industry, the IAA Motor Show was abandoned and in its place, the first “Automechanika 71, international exhibition for automobile parts, repair shop, service station and garage equipment”, was organised. Thus firms involved with motor vehicles, with equipment and accessories and other similar companies which would usually have exhibited at IAA were given the opportunity of an equivalent show-case, and specialist groups with an interest in these areas also had the opportunity to get an overview of the range of products on the market. As a result, the decision was taken to organise the trade fair for the following year as well (1972), in order to create an event which would alternate with the IAA show. With an additional 100 exhibitors and something like half as much floor space again, the second Automechanika inspired great enthusiasm amongst it trade public during the five days it was open.


AI: Did you expect the Automechanika brand to be such a big hit?

I am brand manager of Automechanika since 2004. Back then I overtook a strong brand and an excellent team. But still: the trade-fair industry over the last years got more and more difficult so I am very proud and happy that we launched three more successful Automechanika fairs around the globe during this time, the latest events were in Moscow, Rome and Toronto, and Johannesburg is coming in 2009.


AI: Where do you see the Automechanika brand going from here?

We will continue observing and analyzing the world’s markets in the future so that international manufacturers and buyers have the chance to make contact with national companies and business partners. Our events outside Germany represent launching pads into emerging markets, especially for small to medium-sized companies.

Automotive Industries also spoke to Thomas Aukamm, director of Automechanika.

AI: Please tell us a little about the choice of themes for the Automechanika exhibitions.

The Automechanika covers the worldwide market, especially in the aftermarket sector – more completely in terms of depth and breadth than any other event. In Germany, competing events only overlap with parts of the Automechanika nomenclature. Over recent years, the Automechanika has developed to the international innovation hub. The renowned Innovation Award, which was given for the first time in 2004, points out the efforts end development our exhibitors create in terms of new products and services for the international markets. The Innovation Award as well as the Innovation Show serves as a platform to communicate new concepts to media and potential buyers.


AI: What impact do you think this year’s theme of environment will have on the participants and visitors to Automechanika Frankfurt?

Our participants and visitors are used to the fact that the complementary programme concentrates on topical issues and future-oriented developments.

In line with the current discussions in the automotive industry the next Automechanika will be green. New will be a “Green Directory”, an environmentally-oriented directory for visitors, which guides them to products and services that set new standards in the fields of emissions protection and sustainability. Also new is the publication of an Automechanika Study dealing with the impact of the discussion about global warming on the automotive aftermarket. It offers important recommendations for taking decisions about innovations. Additionally, topics of current issues affecting the trade and workshop sector will be discussed and solutions offered at the Automechanika Academy. By putting emphasis on this environmental topic we also want to point out what kind of investments of e.g. garage owners will be important in the future.

AI: Please tell us a little about some of the issues in different countries and how Automechanika tries to reflect this diversity.

At Automechanika Frankfurt we have exhibitors from about 80 different countries and visitors from more than 140 nations. Thus Automechanika Frankfurt is the international mirror and business platform of the market.

The spectrum of products to be seen at the individual international Automechanika fairs is tailored to the needs of the regional market concerned and can include replacement and original parts, workshop & filling-station equipment and accessories, as well as cars and trucks. Depending on their orientation, these events give international exhibitors access to local, regional and international markets. We offer our customers both: knowledge of the international automobile sector and expertise in trade-fair marketing. Our aim is to provide our exhibitors with a uniform standard of quality at all our fairs


AI: What are some of the new exhibitions being planned by your company?

Next year we will launch Automechanika South Africa in Johannesburg March 18 – 21, 2009. We frequently rethink the existing portfolio of our shows and search for new locations. Australia and India is also a blank spot on the Automechanika map. We’ll go anywhere the industry wants us.

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