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John Simmons: Industry Mentor Remembered

  John Simmons
  Performance parts pioneer and SEMA Hall of Fame member John Simmons passed away on Sunday, February 14.

Performance parts pioneer, SEMA Hall of Fame member, and founder of SECO Equipment Company and SECO Performance Centers, John Simmons, passed away on Sunday, February 14.

"John Simmons was more than my mentor for more than 20 years," said SEMA Chairman of the Board Rick Rollins. "He was like a father that you could always go to for the answers, and not the answers that you wanted to hear, but the ones that came from his many years of experience, and more importantly from his heart."

Simmons started his own warehouse distribution business for performance parts in 1962. He began by selling parts from a trailer that he hauled to race tracks on weekends. By 1967, Simmons was committed to the performance parts business, but he also owned and operated the Helena Dragstrip. Soon after the track was closed in 1967 due to noise, Simmons, along with several partners, acquired Lassiter Mountain Speedway, which they ran for 10 years.

Simmons joined SEMA in 1969 in what was the beginning of a fruitful relationship. Simmons served three terms on the SEMA Board of Directors from 1978–1982 and he chaired the SEMA Finance Committee in 1981. He served on the Awards Judging Committee from 1984–1986, chaired the Person of the Year Award in 1987 and also served as Membership Committee chairman.

In 1980, Simmons was named SEMA Person of the Year and was inducted into SEMA's Hall of Fame in 2004. 

In addition to his SEMA efforts, he was elected and served as a Performance Warehouse Association (PWA) Area Director from 1974–1991, served two terms as PWA treasurer and two terms as national director of the PWA. He received the PWA Pioneer Award in 1993 and was one of the founding members of the AAM/Parts Pro group.

All along the way, Simmons made it a point to help others grow and succeed in their businesses, and he always encouraged people to join SEMA, urging them to get involved. He was never shy about explaining how SEMA could benefit them and their businesses.

"John didn't have time for the modern day marketing surveys or 30,000-ft. views of what was going on, because he knew," Rollins added. "He stayed in touch with what was going on in the streets, on the race tracks and at the car shows. As a manufacturer sales manager, I made very few decisions concerning selling into distribution or running promotions without first consulting John. I will miss him."

Services for Simmons are as follows:

Thursday, February 18, 5:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m.

Friday, February 19, 1:00 p.m. (burial following at the cemetery next door)

Ridout's Elmwood Chapel
800 Dennison Ave. SW
Birmingham, Alabama 35211-3812