Bylaws Changes Create New Opportunities

SEMA News—March 2012

CHRIS KERSTING 

Bylaws Changes Create New Opportunities

  Chris Kersting-SEMA President and CEO, automotive business, aftermarket news, automotive international 
   
I’d like to start this column by expressing our sincere thanks to all those members who voted on the recent referendum to reduce the size of the SEMA Board of Directors. Whether you voted for or against the motion, your participation is a key factor in maintaining a healthy association.

For those who may have missed the recent SEMA eNews announcement, voting is now concluded, and the referendum passed by a large margin. We think the positive result sends several messages, not least of which is confidence in our sitting Board of Directors, who had the courage to recommend changes to help improve the association.

As a result of the affirmative vote, a number of changes will now take place.

First, over a period of three years, the number of Board seats will gradually be reduced from the current 22 to 10, with flexibility to allow the future addition of two seats at the Board’s discretion (one each in the manufacturer and the distributor/retailer categories). The Board will continue to be led by four officer seats, for a total of 14 Board members.

Second, a new Board seat for “services” has been established. Prior to the vote, this growing member segment had been blended into the distributor/retailer category. The composition of the Board can now more accurately represent the segments of the SEMA membership.

Third, Board member terms will be amended from three two-year terms to two three-year terms. This will enable Board members to spend more time in continuous service with fewer interruptions. The especially demanding position of chairman will continue to have a two-year term.

The positive implications of these changes are many and will be important to providing SEMA members with an association that is highly responsive to members’ needs in a world of rapid change.

For example, reducing the size of the Board makes it possible for council leadership to help the Board to more directly understand the needs of SEMA members. Before, council participation and input at Board meetings was impractical because Board meetings were so large. Now, the goals and priorities of the Board and the councils can be more easily shared and, ultimately, better aligned. With the councils having a more regular opportunity to participate, council membership—which is open to all SEMA members—becomes an even more relevant and attainable way for members to supply input and guidance to their association.

Another new opportunity for SEMA-member companies pertains to Board elections. Members can now vote for candidates in all categories, not just their own. The idea is that SEMA members are often in a good position to evaluate and have knowledge of a candidate, regardless of whether that candidate is in one category or another. We’re not sure how much the old restriction stifled voting participation, but whatever the case, that restriction is now removed. The effect, we hope, will be to allow well-qualified candidates to rise to the top, to increase voter participation overall and to generally make the Board election process more meaningful for all member companies.

At this time, nominations for the 2012 Board elections are well under way, and there will soon be a round of voting for new members. The Board has put considerable thought into developing a transition to a smaller group by means of a three-year election process, taking into account the need to continuously maintain a balanced Board.

We hope that record voter participation (more than 40% of SEMA-member companies cast ballots) will continue as member companies take advantage of the opportunity to vote in the Board elections. Voting is important. Those elected are guiding the association’s decisions and resources, which are all about giving your company information and programs to succeed.