SEMA’s PRO Council met in St. Louis June 13-15 to discuss and brainstorm potential solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing restylers and the automotive aftermarket as a whole.

The council also welcomed new select committee members—Tony Hinton, AutoPlex; Jared Cohen, Auto Action Group; and Regan Dickinson, THE SHOP magazine—thanked outgoing members Dave Edmondson, Roadwire Inc.; Ginger Glover, Truckers Toy Store; and Kimberly Callahan, Insignia Group for their service and contributions to the industry, and created action plans to boost awareness and membership through improved communications and a higher-profile, engaging booth at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas, Oct. 30-Nov. 3.

The 27th annual PRO Long Range Planning meeting was attended by 23 council members, including industry manufacturers, shop owners, and media and service providers from across the U.S., providing a wide range of perspectives, ideas and know-how.

In addition to networking events at the St. Louis Gateway Arch, dinner downtown near Busch Stadium, and an evening BBQ hosted at Auto Trim Restyling (ATR), council breakout groups covered the following ground…

Communications: What are the best methods to communicate to members of the PRO council, as well as restylers at large? A number of proposals were offered that would provide members with access to educational information, how-to videos, professional certifications, and peer advice through social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube.

SEMA Show Booth: The PRO booth at the SEMA Show will move to a different location in the North Hall and will be expanded for a heightened interactive experience. The elements to draw additional attendees to the booth and show the value PRO membership can bring to individual businesses will be set soon. A new taskforce will be appointed to oversee this project.

Youth Engagement: This is a two-fold challenge. First, how to engage upcoming generations as consumers of aftermarket products, and, second, build the next generation of technicians, installers, entrepreneurs and employees who will drive our industry forward. The council is working on developing outreach programs to meet this demand, which will benefit the entire industry.

Technology, Threats and Opportunities: One member put it this way: “It’s like a dark cloud. We can look at it as needed rain to water our crops, or as a storm cloud.” The members agreed that the move toward autonomous vehicles, for instance, represents untold opportunity in retrofitting used vehicles with the latest technologies. However, this will require that the aftermarket is ahead of the curve and on top of both the latest and emerging technologies. The PRO council will continue to act as a catalyst for this, developing programs and educational resources to ensure its members are up to date and have the opportunity to capitalize on the future of vehicle technology.