Young Innovators and Leaders in the Spotlight

For industry pros 39 years of age or younger, the SEMA Show offered unique opportunities to cultivate and recognize young talent. Beginning with the YEN-hosted Launch Pad to the network’s awards reception, members of SEMA’s Young Executives Network were able to take advantage of networking and professional-development opportunities during the Show.

For starters, the annual SEMA Launch Pad, powered by YEN, took place at the Westgate Theater on Monday, November 4. Billed as the premier industry competition for young entrepreneurs, the eagerly awaited event was emceed by Discovery Channel’s Aaron Kaufman of Dallas-based ArcLight Fabrication.

From an initial field of 15 competitors, later narrowed to10 semi-finalists, the Launch Pad gave the top five finalists a platform to pitch their business concepts to a panel of industry judges—along with a chance to win a prize package valued at $10,000. For 2019, Reid Lunde of Kaizen Speed took home the grand prize.

Other finalists included TJ Hammerle of Trac Top LLC; Riley Koidahl, The Paddock; Christopher Steven Owens, Last Drop Wrench; and Wesley Poole of Forged Authority. The judges were world champion drifter Vaughn Gittin Jr., president of RTR Vehicles; Sean Holman, MotorTrend Group and co-creator/co-host of “The Truck Show” podcast; Dan Kahn, president and CEO, Kahn Media; Wade Kawasaki, CEO of Legendary Companies; and Hellwig Products President Melanie White.