In the mid-1960s, Giorgio Cometti and four other executives of small to mid-sized Italian automotive aftermarket companies wanted to break away from being part of a 12-day automobile exhibition in Torino, Italy.
This was the genesis of today’s International Biennal Exhibition of Automotive Equipment and Aftermarket Products, also known as Autopromotec.
“We were simply tired of being treated like a second fiddle and not seeing our needs met,” Cometti remembers. Cometti was named president of the group, which evolved into today’s AICA, the Italian Garage Equipment Manufacturer’s Association, a position he still holds today.
During an exclusive interview with Auto Service Professional at the recent Autopromotec, Cometti reflected on the show, and his own business, Polin Inc. & Cie SpA, a company that was founded in 1929.
The Polin Group produces ovens for paint booths, car lifts and infrared lamps, and also ovens for the bakery industry. Cometti bought the company 50 years ago.
“We were a small group of manufacturers and we met with the AIRP, a tire retreading group about joining together for a show,” Cometti said. So, in 1965, Autopromotec was launched in Rome, but then moved quickly to Bologna, Italy, and relied on a biennial format. Bologna is in the heart of Italy’s automotive equipment area, so the location was appropriate.
Cometti is quick to point out that the auto exposition from which they split is no longer in existence. He believes his group succeeded because it remained focused “and highly specialized compared to other shows.” The group’s goal continues to be to showcase equipment.
With the Italian economy in a tremendous struggle, particularly for any Italian company trying to receive credit, Cometti said the international reach of Autopromotec is vital. He pointed specifically to America as the place for growth.
He said the show works with the Italian Trade Commission and other countries' trade commissions to keep the event relevant.
“America is made up of the world. They have excellent talent and minds. But in the field of automotive, Italy sells well and performs well in the U.S. For me, America is ahead of the game in many areas, where they are not is in the trade expo system. In the U.S., shows are held inside hotels.”
Cometti continues to reach out to U.S.-based show organizers to see if there is a partnership that can benefit both parties, but so far, nothing has happened.
This year’s Autopromotec Show had more than 102,500 visitors and 1,514 exhibitors taking up 156,000 square meters of booth space -- close to 1.7 million square feet -- so other show organizers might want to listen if Cometti and his team give a call.
For more information see 2013 Autopromotec: Success shows in the numbers.