Story Time: Last Year’s Launch Pad


“It’s Your Future, Drive It,” said the words on the projector screen found inside the 1,600-seat Westgate Theater. The stage, which was regularly graced by Elvis himself during the heyday of his career, was now occupied by young competitors who wished to be named the 2017 SEMA Launch Pad winner. Having traveled from all over the map to pitch their burgeoning business ideas and products to a panel of five judges, the young automotive entrepreneurs gave their presentations. Some delivered their demonstrations without a hitch; others faltered in the most respectable way. Public speaking isn’t for everyone, but the eight competitors soon learned that delivery is as important as product in the case of public competitions.

Clarence Barnes hosted the event. His ease in front of the stage helped some finalists as they gathered their thoughts for the five judges, which included automotive industry professionals, Ronald L. Coleman president of COMP Performance, TV personality Jessi Combs, Myles Kovaks of DUB Publishing, Stacey David of Rattletrap Productions, and World Champion Drifter Vaughn Gittin Jr.

All finalists presented brilliant products with lots of potential to burst into the automotive market. The first presenter was Brock Templeman of Savior Products, Inc. He boasted the “best-looking battery case,” which eliminates vibration and premature battery failure.

Next was Matt Corish, co-founder of He discussed his V12 LS engine kit designed for high-end hot rods.


Gregor Hanuschak, founder of Smack Innovations discussed his “SafeConnect” steering-wheel gadget, which allows drivers to effortlessly use mobile apps while driving.

Next up was Edward Uehling co-founder of King Tailgates LLC. His eye-catching tailgate replacement product boasts customizable sitting cushions, a waterproof Bluetooth speaker, a 12v USB charging port, among other neat features.

Tom Burden CEO and Founder of Grypshon Industries LLC. won the top prize with his Grypmat Trio, which is a tool mat set that is ingeniously engineered to adhere to curved surfaces, allowing tools to stay in place.

Next to present was Carl Borkholder, owner of Gen-Y Industries. His Gen-Y Adjustable Drop Hitch is a heavy-duty receiver hitch, which boasts a built-in torsion suspension, which allows for smoother hauling.

Brian Pierce, CTO of Delicious Tuning, was the penultimate competitor. His Flex Fuel Conversion Kit is a plug-and-go product that allows drivers to fill up their gas tanks with any quantity of gasoline and/or ethanol.

The last finalist to present was Ben Horst, president of Eddy Motorworks. His custom electric conversions will allow electric car enthusiasts to convert their classic cars to electric vehicles. His Electrocet is the world’s first fully electric track car, which promises the “power of Tesla with less than half the weight.”

Although all finalists presented impressive products or services to the judges, only Tom Burden was named the 2017 Launch Pad Winner. He was awarded $10,000 to benefit his business, complimentary exhibit space at the 2018 SEMA Show, a free one-year SEMA membership, along with other amazing rewards.

Launch Pad 2018 applications will open soon. Will you be among the brave to present?