Chris Kersting has been president and CEO of the Specialty Equipment
Market Association (SEMA) since July 2002. He is the fifth staff executive
to lead the trade group since its founding in 1963.
As president and CEO, Kersting has led SEMA’s growing influence in the automotive industry through a series of innovative programs and services that help the association’s more than 6,000 member companies capture new business opportunities. With a focus on programs targeted to small businesses, he has championed initiatives that include collaboration with automakers, deregulation of automotive customization overseas and data standardization.
Kersting became a SEMA staff member in 1996 when he joined the Washington, D.C., office as vice president of legislative and technical affairs. As the association’s lead representative in the nation’s capital, he successfully urged lawmakers to pass bills that protected the interests of SEMA member companies and challenged government regulation in order to maintain innovation and growth in the aftermarket industry.
Before joining SEMA full time, Kersting worked as outside counsel and a government affairs representative. Beginning in 1989, Kersting worked at a firm where he handled legal matters for several SEMA member companies, as well as industry institutions such as the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), Performance Warehouse Association (PWA) and Auto International Association (AIA).
A Certified Association Executive (CAE), Kersting received his law degree from Washington College of Law, American University in 1989 and graduated from the University of Colorado with a Bachelor of Science degree in business in 1985.
In his spare time, he enjoys getting outdoors to mountain bike, backpack and ski, that is, when he isn’t home-brewing a tasty pale ale.
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in December 1961, Kersting currently lives in Pasadena, California, with his wife and two daughters. His daily driver is a 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, which he hopes to supercharge one day. He is also keeping his eye out for a vintage Jeep Commander for resto-modification.