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(From left) SEMA President/CEO Chris Kersting, Chairman Jim Cozzie, Chair-Elect Rick Rollins and Board member and panel moderator Dennis Gage share a laugh at the SEMA State of the Association address.

At its annual State of the Association meeting, SEMA leadership emphasized that during challenging times the industry should look to the association and take advantage of all SEMA has to offer its members. 

Presented at the SEMA Spring Expo/SEMA OFFROAD in Indianapolis on February 7, SEMA Chairman Jim Cozzie, President and CEO Chris Kersting and Chairman-Elect Rick Rollins led the event by emphasizing long-term goals and preparation for the future. The panel, moderated by SEMA Board member Dennis Gage, highlighted the health and direction of the association, and revealed plans that include enhanced education, legislative activity and industry-focused research. 

Cozzie announced the SEMA Educational Institute as a major project in the final stages of development that will offer continuing education in the areas of product, management and retail training. The program, funded by the Board last July, will be available to members as an online resource. Certification programs were discussed as potential opportunities that could be provided through the Educational Institute.

“I foresee down the road, because this is not a short-term program, it will continue to grow as the association grows, a time where active working adults can work to finish a degree, to earn a degree, and to earn a certificate with the program we are putting in place,” said Cozzie. “We can’t wait to get it up for everybody to see it.”

Rollins introduced the creation of a SEMA advisory board, installed specifically to foresee and better plan for what is ahead in the fast-changing aftermarket industry. The advisory board, created in 2006, is comprised of SEMA Board members and non-Board members, as well as people in key positions, all of whom have knowledge of what is imminent in areas including vehicle technology, legislation, OEM strategy and consumer trends. The Board has installed plans to produce a report that will cover these topics.

“This Board will help everyone from the manufacturers to the jobber dealer level,” said Rollins. 

Kersting stressed the importance of legislative activity in ensuring the growing health and survival of the hobby as he described SEMA’s involvement in government affairs. Kersting spoke of the SEMA Political Action Committee (PAC), assembled to elect and retain legislators that support the aftermarket industry, and also urged members to participate in SEMA’s Washington Rally, an event designed to bring members and their legislators face-to-face to discuss issues impacting the hobby.

“We need to let Congress know who our industry is and why it’s important that the laws, both the ones that we react to and the proactive ones, matter to keeping our businesses going,” said Kersting. “Congress understands the strategic importance of keeping manufacturing jobs alive.”

The address also referred to several programs that members can take advantage of to cut costs, including the Freight Savings Plan and the Specialty Equipment Insurance Alliance (SEIA) Program.

For the complete presentation, including a Q&A session, access the live web broadcast at: