Southern Automotive Conference (SAC) Highlights

Southern Automotive Conference (SAC) Highlights

October 5-7, 2016 SAC in Biloxi, MS

Excerpts from the Recap from Executive Director Don "Stogie" Stoegbauer Mississippi Automotive Manufacturers Association (MAMA)

The SAC was kicked off Wednesday morning began with a fishing expedition in which 15 participants enjoyed clear skies and success catching fish while our exhibitors were hard at work setting up booths. Later that day, an exhibitor reception full of food and drink showed our appreciation of their support. Also that evening, representatives from the AMA boards met in the Biloxi Visitors Center. More than 40 participants from five states - Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and South Carolina - discussed the region's most pressing automotive issues, exchanged ideas and shared best practices.

After the meeting, speakers and VIP sponsors joined board members to network, listen to music and watch the muscle cars traveling the coastal highway. The conference was hosed during the same weekend that thousands of people from across the country drove their prized vintage vehicles to "Cruisin' the Coast," the third largest car show in the country. Cruisin' the Coast partnered with the SAC this year, and provided a fantastic backdrop for our conversations about the industry.

By Thursday morning, more than 600 attendees had registered and our exhibit hall was bustling with people visiting the 90 booths. In the Beau Rivage Theater, our great state's Governor Phil Bryant presented a fact-filled and exciting session about Mississippi's leadership in the automotive industry. During his presentation, he was flanked by his very own Classic 1955 Chevy Nomad. Personally, he made me feel proud to have this level of automotive leadership in our state.

Following his presentation, the Governor welcomed three superlative employees from different states to join him onstage and receive an honor exclusive to the SAC: The Stars of Southern Manufacturing Award. Our honorees shared this special presentation with their families, in a heartwarming and meaningful session that recognized them as stars in the automotive workforce.

Next were problem-solving workshops such as "Engineering the Future of Manufacturing," that offered a new take on the traditional OEM and how fundamental changes in technology are affecting plant processes every day. An evening reception sponsored by Nissan Mississippi, had Steve Marsh, the Vice President of the company's Canton plant, kicking the party into gear.

On Friday morning, a "Changing the Image of the Automotive Executive" panel, moderated by Sean Suggs, VP from the Toyota plant in Blue Springs, Mississippi, explored the cultural and financial benefits of diversity in the workplace and at top levels of automotive organizations. To wrap up the conference, we honored our armed forces veterans at the MGM Park. It was humbling to see, talk to and shake the hands of these brave folks who allow us to enjoy our freedom and our great country each day. This event closed out the SAC Conference, which had showcased our state, the Gulf Coast and the Southeast United States' excellent automotive leadership.