News - SEMA Holds Inaugural Regional Networking Events

SEMA Member News - November/December 2009

Staff Learns About Member Businesses and How to Serve Them Better


 SEMA NEWS-NOVEMBER 2009-MEMBER NEWS
 

The first stand-alone outreach event was held at the San Diego Automotive Museum in San Diego, California. Nils Forssman and Kim Tremelling of member company Truck Covers USA, pictured above with chairman of the SEMA Cares Committee Joel Ayres (left), worked alongside Franco Ganino of Alliant Insurance Services and Greg McDowell of Mitchell International in putting the mixer together. Member companies that attended were encouraged to showcase their project vehicles.

Over the past few years, SEMA has sought to reach out to its members in order to hear what they have to say about their businesses and how the association may better serve them, especially during tough economic times. Attending industry events, including warehouse distributor shows, gave the SEMA staff an opportunity to spend time with members from various industry segments and job functions. Staffers also wanted to look for other ways to efficiently connect with members, so they decided to test a few stand-alone outreach events in targeted geographical areas. The first regional event in May was a member-driven mixer at the San Diego Automotive Museum in San Diego, California.

We have benefited greatly from SEMA over the years, and we felt that this would be a great opportunity to get the local automotive community involved,” said Nils Forssman of Truck Covers USA. “We knew that our local SEMA members could share valuable information and help one another, and that SEMA membership in our region would grow. Also, there would be an awareness of what an advantage SEMA could be for local businesses. Many non-members and even members are not really aware of all the benefits membership brings, so they do not take full advantage of the opportunities. This event provided an opportunity for SEMA members to share information and helped others network and exchange useful information. We definitely would encourage other SEMA members to do the same in their regions.”

The second regional outreach event was held in August and was set in one of the most member-concentrated regions of the country, northern Ohio. The one-day event began with an educational program at the Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio. The program included a presentation by Internet marketing expert Brian Offenberger, CEO of AfterMarketer Club, who shared his successful strategies for online marketing, advertising and more. The workshop was co-sponsored by the Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Council (MPMC) and the Street Performance Council (SPC) and covered topics that ranged from online marketing in the specialty-equipment industry and search-engine optimization for beginners to maximizing return on investment in social media and Google AdWords.

 SEMA NEWS-NOVEMBER 2009-MEMBER NEWS
 

The second regional outreach event was held in northern Ohio. The one-day event began with an educational program at the Summit Motorsports Park and included a presentation by Internet marketing expert Brian Offenberger, CEO of AfterMarketer Club, who shared his successful strategies for online marketing and advertising and more.

The event also included an opportunity for a personalized website review by Offenberger to address each company’s specific needs and goals. That segment was followed by a lunch break for networking with MPMC, SPC and SEMA staff. The cost for the complete program was only $25 per person and included the Internet marketing workshop, personalized session with Offenberger and networking luncheon. Following the workshop, the competitive among the attendees adjourned to the track for some bracket racing, and all were invited to a mixer in downtown Cleveland.

The success of the Ohio mixer can be attributed to the outreach efforts by SEMA Ambassadors Ed Burgy of Mr. Gasket, Ray Ott of Auto Trim of Cleveland, MPMC Chairman Bill Floyd of RideTech (Air Ride Technologies) and Bob Scheid of Fidanza Engineering, who was directly responsible for bringing out local business service providers; his state representative, Mark Schneider; Anne Hill, regional director from Ohio Governor Ted Strickland’s office; Jenn Ruggles, regional economic development director for the Ohio Department of Development; and Michael Cutter, vice president at First Merit Bank (the largest bank in the Cleveland area), provider of equipment finance and leasing services for local and national businesses.

“I feel [that these regional events] will give SEMA members a greater feeling of ownership of their association, plus getting needed knowledge (and networking support) in these trying times,” said Steve Cole of member company WriteWords in Medina, Ohio. “The format was great, the knowledge imparted and shared was necessary and very timely, and the networking interaction helped everyone understand that they were not alone in facing today’s challenges.”

SEMA would like to expand this regional networking program and is actively searching for other areas where member companies might like to participate. The staff is looking for ideas about educational programs, venues and speakers who can help member companies with local, national or even international business opportunities. If you have any ideas and would like to help organize a networking mixer in your region, please contact Monica Terlouw, SEMA’s director of member outreach, by calling 909/396-0289, x150.