Every year, SEMA councils and networks hold elections for seats on their respective select committee. Last spring, PRO re-elected several incumbents and added some newcomers to the team. To introduce new arrivals to our membership, Member Updates recently interviewed Eldon Bracken, owner of Graphic Mart. Here’s what he had to say.
Q&A with Eldon Bracken
Member Updates Editor: How long have you been with Graphic Mart? And in the restyling business?
|Eldon Bracken chats with Hall of Famer Van Woodell during PRO's Happy Hour at the 2017 SEMA Show.|
Eldon Bracken: I’ve been with Graphic Mart since 1992. However Graphic Mart’s parent company, Bracken Marketing, has been in the automotive industry since 1972 and the automotive restyling industry since 1978.
MUE: What’s your restyling background?
EB: For a couple of years right after I finished high school, I was on the road working at dealerships, installing striping, graphics, body side moldings, sunroofs, ground effects kits, etc. I soon found my forte was in design and became the lead designer at 3M’s Trim-Line facility in Canada. It was an amazing experience being as young as I was at the time. It gave me a unique insight into the OEs' function, but also—on the far opposite end of the scale—what the small restyler working out of the back of his van needed.
MUE: How long have you been a PRO member?
EB: Our company became a PRO member in the mid 1990’s.
MUE: In the time you have volunteered in PRO, how has it benefitted you on a personal and professional level?
EB: I remember attending my first PRO LRP (Long Range Planning) meeting in Detroit and just listening. Listening to how other industry leaders thought, reasoned and came to decisions on the issues being discussed. It really helped me grow as a leader in my own organization, since my role had switched from designer to management. I took those same thought processes and techniques back into my own business when making long range plans and goals.
On a personal level, the friendships that have been forged over the years have been amazing. Every year when we get together as a group, it’s like coming home—home to my automotive family. It may sound cliché, but it’s true.
MUE: What motivated you to get more involved with PRO?
EB: It really was two people: Karl Stearns and B.J. Leanse. Karl invited me to my first LRP, and B.J. invited me to a WD meeting that was taking place at one of the shows. If it wasn’t for these two taking the time to mentor me along the way, I may never have become involved with PRO and SEMA. Thank you Karl and B.J.!
MUE: What motivated you to join the select committee?
EB: It was an opportunity to give back to an industry that my family has personally been involved with for over 50 years.
MUE: What challenges and/or opportunities have you come across now that you’re in the select committee?
EB: We could say that youth engagement is waning or that technology is going to drive the restyler out of the market or that autonomous vehicles will take the soul out of the driver. Well it just might, but only if you let it. The enthusiasm and energy that the select committee has in tackling these very issues, shows to me that there are far more opportunities than challenges. But we have to look for them and that’s what PRO’s Select Committee does very well.