Never Enough Auto Accessories Blossoms From the Owner’s EnthusiasmFrom its inception, the automotive specialty-equipment industry has been built in large measure by enthusiasts who followed their passions. Brad Vlastuin fits that mold.Vlastuin enjoyed cruise-ins and car gatherings around his hometown in Michigan back in the days when neon lighting and exterior accessories were the hot ticket for import cars. He owned a Toyota Matrix and found that others who attended the same events were in search of products similar to those he was interested in. He began to track down and offer accessories to his fellow enthusiasts, and he was soon running what was essentially a small business out of the trunk of his car.
Builders Race Their Creations on the Dragstrip to Raise Money for SEMA Cares CharitiesEleven of the nation’s premier custom-car builders crafted miniature pinewood hot rods that raced head to head this past summer at the fifth-annual Hot Rod Industry Alliance (HRIA) Pinewood Builder’s Challenge during SEMA’s Installation Banquet & Gala Fundraiser, which was held July 18, at the Sheraton Fairplex Hotel & Conference Center in Pomona, California. The hot rods took to the track to benefit two children’s charities just before the banquet started. The cars were then autographed by the builders and displayed in the HRIA booth at the 2014 SEMA Show.
The message is clear: Automotive customization is thriving, and American-based businesses are at the forefront of product technology and innovation for the industry. As highlighted in the recent “SEMA Annual Market Study,” the automotive specialty-equipment market now represents $33 billion in annual sales—a 7% increase over the previous year.
Shelby American had a presence at the High Performance and Custom Equipment Trade Show at Dodger Stadium in 1967, the event that would go on to become the SEMA Show. It’s interesting to see what’s in the Shelby booth—as well as what’s not. Shelby’s iconic Cobra roadster and the GT350 Mustang are represented only by photos on the booth’s back wall. Note, too, the “wanted” poster on the easel soliciting for manufacturer’s representatives to handle Shelby’s parts and equipment.The engine in the center of the booth is a small-block Ford outfitted with a Paxton supercharger. Shelby began offering the blower on ’66 GT350 models, though the expensive option found few takers. Only 11 GT350s left the factory as supercharged models.
We’re pleased to report that the SEMA Data Co-op has surpassed critical mass and is rolling! Your industry-owned product data repository now has more than 350 brands covering more than 2.7 million live part numbers. Every week, we see thousands of data exports pulled down by data receivers—our industry’s resellers and retailers. That means that more products are getting more exposure, leading to increased sales. That’s great news. Meanwhile, the marketplace continues to evolve. These days, more than 50% of all sales begin with online research, and studies show that a product listing that offers an image is more than twice as likely to sell as one with no image. Rich data—images with multiple views, video files, audio files—is reported to be as much as 17 times more likely to prompt a sale.
As a trade association, SEMA is governed by a Board of Directors, which is elected by the SEMA membership at large. Board members serve three-year terms, with the chairman-elect automatically assuming the role of Board chairman after completing his or her two-year term. “The SEMA Board of Directors is vital for setting our priorities and addressing issues that promote growth for all the association’s member businesses,” said SEMA President and CEO Chris Kersting. “Our directors represent the breadth and depth of the $33-billion specialty-equipment industry, and we appreciate their spirit of volunteerism, along with the considerable industry experience and insight they bring to their leadership role.”
Playing in the Recreational MeccaThe annual SEMA Show in Las Vegas is, first and foremost, one of the world’s largest automotive trade events, and business is the number-one priority. But that doesn’t preclude a ton of fun on the side—especially given all the opportunities the city presents. The following items are a few highlighted attractions, but be sure to visit the official city website at www.lasvegas.com for its huge listing of activities, shows, tours and more. You can even download a guide to the city at the site or order a hard copy. The breadth of possibilities is amazing!
TIA Executive Vice PresidentOn behalf of the Tire Industry Association (TIA), welcome to the 2014 Global Tire Expo—Powered by TIA. The Global Tire Expo (GTE) continues to be a world-class show that is unmatched in the industry. From discovering new products to networking, I hope that you will take advantage of all the opportunities that GTE has to offer.I am excited that the Global Tire Expo continues to experience growth and am pleased to welcome many new exhibitors. TIA has worked closely with our valuable partner SEMA to ensure this year’s show will be a tremendous success.