Exhibitors Reaffirm Value of SEMA Show as Industry Rebounds

  Many exhibitors have committed to returning to the 2010 SEMA Show after sitting out last year, mostly due to a poor economy.

With the economy seemingly on the rebound, albeit slowly, many exhibitors are returning to the 2010 SEMA Show after sitting out last year. The recession played an overwhelmingly large role in reasons why these companies were absent in 2009.

However, as the premier industry event, the SEMA Show offers so many different opportunities to sell to more than 50,000 buyers, network with industry professionals, showcase new products and identify emerging industry trends that it was difficult for them to stay away.

Among the high-profile exhibitors returning this year include: Rancho/Dynomax, Hella Inc., Brembo North America, Superlift Suspension Systems, Exedy Global Parts Corporation and PaceSetter Performance Products. We caught up with representatives from some of the returning companies and this is what they had to say about the value of exhibiting at the SEMA Show and why they are returning after sitting out in 2009:

Our reason for sitting out of the 2009 SEMA Show was purely economical. The 2010 Show will be our 20th anniversary, and SEMA has been a great Show for Auburn Gear. It gives us the opportunity to display new products, network within the industry, meet new potential warehouse distributors and visit with a number of distributors that have supported Auburn Gear for many years.
We are seeing a slow turnaround in our aftermarket sales. The industry we all serve is one that is very resilient; our customers have always found a way to buy products for their cars and trucks.

Ralph Traycoff
Sales Manager
Auburn Gear Inc.
Auburn, Indiana

Last year, both Tokico and Hitachi Automotive experienced business hardships due to the economic climate. This year, we are returning to the Show just to stay in the game. Although we’re not out of the woods just yet, our booth will be scaled back a bit, but without limiting our products on display.

Sam van den Berg
Senior Manager of Information Technology and Trade Show Committee
HITACHI Automotive Products Inc. (USA)
Torrance, California

Last year we supported other areas of our business where sales were going pretty well and, with the slowdown of the industry, it was an ideal year to direct our investment to new divisions within our company. Also, last year we did not have a large number of new items to introduce and we were, of course, not expecting a big return from the market for obvious reasons.

This year, we are glad to be back. The market is starting to show more activity with better figures versus last year. We will introduce several new items with the usual technology that distinguishes Hella from others. At the same time, we are confident the industry will return, slowly, closer to levels from two years ago.

Within the past 12 months, we have been busy developing new products and working with the rest of the divisions within our company. The results have been positive, and we are prepared for new challenges. We know that the market will demand better products and we are not the only brand out there, so we are working to make our offerings better and more attractive to consumers, installers and customers.

Our confidence has not wavered as evidenced by our 20’x30’ booth, which is the same size as in past years. All the space will be dedicated to new products, technologies and services. We look forward to meeting visitors from different countries and specialized shops and designers who are always in search of the most innovative products.

Alfredo de la Vega
Product Development & Marketing Manager
Hella Inc.
Peachtree City, Georgia

Our thought process in regards to attending the SEMA Show has always been weighted more toward the benefit from attending, rather than the economic conditions. I think that regardless of the state of the economy, the SEMA Show is the best avenue to show new products, meet with existing customers, find prospective customers and learn more about your competitors.
Our goal at the 2010 SEMA Show is to showcase new products, which is why we are attending. The additional benefit this year is that we see business is on an upturn, so we feel attendance will be great and attitudes will be positive.

Randy Malowski
Director of Sales & Marketing
Fia Inc.
Winnipeg, Canada

Last year and the prior year, business was off and falling so much that it was hard to determine where the bottom was going to be or if we were going to be able to stay in business. We were watching our expenses and began our lean manufacturing.

The seating industry has been declining for the past six years due to the major auto manufacturers using high-quality seating in their vehicles. There used to be a demand for converted upscale vehicles that either is no longer being done or the manufacturers are doing it themselves. That part of the industry is simply gone. Also, the consumer has no problem in getting leather upgrades right from the showroom or off the sales lot.

Beginning this year, we found the bottom and knew we could not withstand another year away from SEMA because too many customers think that you are no longer in business if they do not see you there. We have been in the automotive aftermarket for more than 38 years and a member of SEMA for some 35 years, and our customer base are SEMA attendees.

While we have diversified our sales markets outside SEMA to survive, we feel that being a part of SEMA is foremost to our long-term plan of being the last custom seat manufacturer standing.

Sam Orsak
Qualitex Seating & Mfg. LP
Kaufman, Texas

We sat out last year for a few different reasons: 1) we had a pessimistic view of the market, 2) we were developing new products but they were not ready yet, and 3) we were focused on other projects.

We decided to come back this year because we were pleased to see the high level of participants. We do see economic progress going forward this year.

PJ Harvey
PJH Brands
Scottsdale, Arizona

We decided to participate in the SEMA Show this year because we believe there will be a significant economic improvement worldwide in the coming years, especially in the automotive industry, and people will start to spend their money again more freely.

Rungarun Bunvitaya

CS Section Manager
Samutprakarn, Thailand

Last year Eastwood did not attend the SEMA Show simply because the economy was down and we were looking for ways to reduce expenses and also thought Show attendance would be down. This year, Eastwood will attend the Show because business has been picking up and we are looking to expand our business-to-business sales. There has been a lot of interest by other retailers looking to expand their product lines. The Show gives us exposure and an opportunity to meet with retailers, both domestic and international, who are looking to add new products to their existing lines. 

Steve Hurter

Inside Sales Manager
Eastwood Company

Pottstown, Pennsylvania

The SEMA Show really seems to draw more of the buyers, WDs and bigger jobbers. Coming up on our second quarter, we are seeing an increase in sales to WDs and jobbers. It appears consumers are starting to feel better about the economy, which leads them to invest more in the care of their vehicles.

Merrick Browne
Forever Car Care Products
Moraga, California

So far, more than 1,400 companies have reserved a space for the 2010 SEMA Show, more than 200 of them are first-time exhibitors. At the 2009 SEMA Show, 87% of buyers made or influenced buying decisions within their businesses, and 73% said that they purchased more products from SEMA Show exhibitors than from non-exhibiting companies.

The 2010 SEMA Show is set for November 2–5, in Las Vegas. It’s not too late to reserve your booth space. Space selections will take place from June 2–23, 2010, and exhibitors who have signed up for priority booth space will receive their space selection dates and times on May 25.

The Exhibit Space Rental Agreement is available here.