Leading companies and professionals from the light-truck and accessory and restyling markets gathered in Indianapolis for the 2008 SEMA Spring Expo and SEMA OFFROAD, sponsored by the Light-Truck Accessory Alliance (TORA) and the Professional Restylers Organization (PRO). More than just a showcase for world-class companies and products, the two shows feature educational seminars and how-to product demonstrations and recognize industry innovators in both markets. Here are some highlights from the events:
Keynote speaker FDNY Battalion Commander Richard Picciotto received standing ovations throughout his inspiring presentation, "Last Man Down." Picciotto, the last man to escape the World Trade Center collapse on 9/11, moved the audience with his stirring and outspoken account of that unforgettable day as a firefighter who gave nearly everything to rescue others.
Left to Right: SEMA President Chris Kersting, TORA Chair-Elect Kelly Kneifl of Shur-Co., TORA Chairman Ron DiVincenzo of Cap World, PRO Chairman Chuck Blum of Chuck Blum Consulting, and PRO Chair-Elect Karl Stearns of Auto Trim International during the opening ceremony of the 2008 SEMA Spring Expo and SEMA OFFROAD.
As one of the educational seminars, "Merchandising Restyling to New Car Dealers" combined practical information and valuable insight to provide participants with the tools needed to build profit-based relationships with auto dealers.
Exhibitors received additional product exposure while demonstrating installation techniques directly to buyers through the SEMA Spring Expo Vehicle Buildups, sponsored by the TORA.
With a special emphasis on trucks and SUVs, exhibitors featured at the SEMA Spring Expo and SEMA OFFROAD displayed a variety of products and services covering accessories, restyling, suspension, wheels and tires, and mobile electronics.
Light-Truck Accessory Alliance
The TORA presented several product awards during the TORA/PRO Industry Awards Reception to recognize the creativity and product innovation of companies within the light-truck accessory market. Here are the honorees and award winners recognized by the TORA:
Todd Yeoman (middle) of American Technology Components accepts the TORA Chairman's Award from TORA Chairman Ron DiVincenzo of Cap World (left) and TORA Chair-Elect Kelly Kneifl of Shur-Co.
Rick Hermann of Agri-Cover accepted the TORA Point of Purchase Award.
Anne K. Johnson of Dealer Services International was inducted into the TORA Hall of Fame.
John Chamberlaine of Action Group of Companies received the TORA Retailer of the Year Award.
Brian Sharp of Undercover received the TORA Best New Product Under $500 for the company's Swingcase product.
Greg Bernardo of Roll-N-Lock celebrates winning the TORA award for Best New Product over $500.
Warren Nally of Ford was on hand to present two 2008 Ford Styling Awards for Best Use of Accessories on a Ford Truck or SUV to Kelderman Air Suspension and Westin Automotive Products.
Sponsors of the TORA Industry Awards Reception left to right: Rick Hermann of Agri-Cover, Eric Kwasnicka of DuPont, Jeff Johnson of Yakima, Bruce Freeman from Leer/TAG, Bobby Snyder of Jotto Desk and Kelly Kneifl of Truxedo.
Professional Restylers Organization
The Professional Restylers Organization (PRO) presented several council awards during the PRO/TORA PRO Industry Award Reception at SEMA Spring Expo/SEMA OFFROAD. Below are highlights from the reception.
Bob Nardine of Bob's Top Shop (left) was presented with the PRO Jim Borré Lifetime Achievement Award from Doug Jacobs of Restylers' Choice.
Charlie Pruitt (right) of Auto & Truck Restylers accepted the Professional Restylers Organization (PRO) Truck-Accessory Specialist of the Year award from sponsor B.J. Leanse of Big Country.
Auto Trim & Restyling News publisher and PRO award sponsor Travis Weeks (left) with Tim Browner of Auto-Mat. Browner accepted the PRO Trimmer of the Year Award on behalf of his father and company founder Eric Browner.
Diana Braschler of Dealer Source, winner of the PRO Restyler of the Year Award, with award sponsor Karl Stearns of Auto Trim International.
Bob Kern, General Motors director of cross-brand technology presented the GM Creative Styling & Trim Awards. The winners were: The SpaceKap by Fibrocap Inc. for Most Versatile GM Truck Accessory; A.R.E. for Best Utilization of a GM Truck Bed; Eco Trek Foundation of Best Accessorization of a GM Truck; and The Custom Shop for GM Best of Show.
Members of the PRO Select Committee presented a special recognition award to former PRO liaison Ellen McKoy (front row, second from left).
The sponsors of the PRO awards reception received special recognition during the TORA/PRO Industry Awards Reception.