Global Update

SEMA Members to Discover Growth and Condition of Potential Markets

SEMA CIAPE Business Development Conference
SEMA members participating in the SEMA-CIAPE Business Development Conference will be paired with relevant Chinese buyers in up to a dozen private, pre-scheduled meetings.

Light-vehicle sales in China rose 53% in the first five months of the year to nearly 7.2 million units, according to J.D. Power and Associates. It’s hard to ignore that kind of momentum. Some SEMA members aren’t. They are headed to Beijing in late September for the SEMA-CIAPE Business Development Conference. Many see it as a good opportunity to learn more about the China market.

The July 16 deadline to register for the event is fast approaching. SEMA members who register by July 16 can take advantage of a low-cost, high-impact networking opportunity for top Chinese buyers and leading SEMA-member manufacturers. Rates increase 25% after July 16.

High-performance suspension product maker Eibach Springs will be in Beijing. “Eibach has always supported the growth of potential and emerging markets," said Gary Peek, senior vice president of sales and marketing at the Corona, California-based company. "We see both of those in capital letters in China."

Participating SEMA members will be paired with relevant Chinese buyers in up to a dozen private, pre-scheduled meetings. One-on-one meetings with potential Chinese partners at this ground-breaking event will allow you to get to know them and the market.

Holley Performance Products of Bowling Green, Kentucky, is taking part in the conference. “Our primary goal is to test the water, gauge the China market and how much interest there is in the performance market,” said Gang Chen, the chief China representative for Holley Performance Products.

The company is on a “fact-finding mission,” said Lisa Mitchell, director of corporate purchasing. Holley makes a wide variety of aftermarket automotive engine parts. It already sources from China; now it is considering selling there, too.

“We want to grow the business," Mitchell said. "We haven’t gone after export; now we’re in a growth mode."

Getting to know the China market better is one of his goals at the conference, said Kirk Miller, vice president of sales and marketing for SEMA-member AEM Performance Electronics. AEM makes engine management systems, sensors and fuel-delivery systems.

“We want to get a better lay of the land, know where the hotspots are, what our pricing strategy in China should be and how to get products to consumers,” said Miller.

Two hot growth segments with promise for SEMA members are luxury cars and SUVs. Sales remained strong for both in the first five months of this year. Luxury car sales rose 64%, according to J.D. Power, to 169,593 units. SUV sales shot up 128% in the first five months compared to the same period in 2009 to more than 600,000 units.

Those numbers point to future sales in China, said SEMA Chairman-Elect Paul "Scooter" Brothers of Comp Performance Group. “Our philosophy at all of our Comp companies is to keep an eye on the future markets,” he said.

Comp Performance Group companies make products ranging from cams and valvetrains to driveline components and electric fuel-injection boxes. Getting into the China market early can give Comp companies a competitive advantage there, said Brothers.

“We want to begin to establish some visibility among the high-performance crowd,” Brothers said. “If you can establish a relationship with players in the high-performance world, it will be easy to cultivate those along the way."

If a company waits until the market is more developed, it could be too late, Brothers added. “Overnight it is going to develop and just be there,” he said. “Those of us who have products ready will be able to take advantage of that.”

The SEMA trip offers the kind of hands-on opportunity that is vital to developing a new market, said Eibach’s Peek.

“We see and hear statistics,” he said. “[But] when you hear and talk to the people, you find out what the market is made of. We want to observe first-hand the actual growth and condition of the market, to ensure our product applications and distribution channel is effective.”

Other SEMA members can do the same.

For more information, visit or contact Linda Spencer