Manufacturers Report: Impact of SEMA Show on Business

SEMA Show Floor 2010
Generating leads and establishing connections with buyers is a top priority for exhibitors, and a successful Show typically means once the Show closes, the real value of committing to the SEMA Show begins to pay dividends.
It's been exactly one month since the Las Vegas Convention Center was taken over by the automotive specialty-equipment industry. Since that time, the media has worked day and night developing articles, radio broadcasts and television shows, dedicated to giving audiences at least a taste of the 2010 SEMA Show experience. While the media's highlight reels magnificently capture Show floor excitement, for a report on the business impact of the recent SEMA Show, the most powerful stories are coming directly from SEMA Show exhibiting manufacturers.

Generating leads and establishing connections with buyers is a top priority for exhibitors, and a successful Show typically means once the Show closes, the real value of committing to the SEMA Show begins to pay dividends. For Doug Worswick, CEO of Bubba Rope, his company's rolodex is now filled with contacts stretching from Oklahoma to South Africa.

"Being fortunate and honored to receive one of 15 awards from 2,000 entrants in the New Products Showcase as 'Best New Packaging Design' truly puts Bubba Rope on the automotive specialty-equipment map," said Worswick. In fact, according to Worswick, the excitement and enthusiasm generated by Bubba Rope's presence at the Show lead to multiple distribution deals with domestic and international partners. "We found ourselves unexpectedly finalizing exclusive distribution in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, with many other countries showing tremendous interest." Bubba Rope also initiated multiple new business opportunities with domestic buyers. Worswick explained, "Nationally, we scored huge as well, having opened up new distribution channels in Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Utah, Wyoming and Iowa, with many more distribution leads to follow up on."

For many exhibitors, the face-to-face meetings that are only possible at the SEMA Show, create enthusiasm unlike any other form of advertisement. Todd Deshler of Time Shaver Tools saw first hand the value of showcasing his company's Panel Thing painting stand in front of Show attendees. "As we demonstrated our products to bodyshop operators, their enthusiasm was not lost on the wholesale buyers standing nearby," said Deshler. "We can’t overestimate the value an auto body technician explaining to an overseas buyer why he likes a particular product so much." Similar to Bubba Rope, Time Shaver Tools continues to reap the benefits of exhibiting at the Show. "For Time Shaver Tools, the SEMA Show represents a primary location for developing closer relationships with our customers both here and abroad. Our sales from this year’s Show far exceeded our greatest expectations."

For other exhibitors, it's not just following up on leads, a successful SEMA Show has served as a catalyst to hire new employees to meet demands. In a recent article in aftermarketNews, Signal Extraprise Corp. was singled out for having to add sales executives to help "enhance the profitability and productivity of their operations." Signal Extraprise President and CEO A.J. McKenna further suggested that his company's success at the SEMA Show is a positive indicator for the entire industry.

“SEMA Show organizers and TIA deserve praise for creating the Global Tire Expo this year and providing exhibitors and attendees with a refreshed venue for face-to-face meetings and networking opportunities," said McKenna. "Our positive experience was a clear signal that the aftermarket has been emboldened and is preparing for a resurgence after challenging times.”

Ultimately, it is the year-long impact on specialty-equipment business that makes the annual SEMA Show so much more than a four-day business trip to Las Vegas. It's the momentum that the Show creates that brings attendees and exhibitors back, year after year. Speed Dawg LLC General Manager Christopher Figdore cited his company's tremendous success last year as a first-time exhibitor as the primary reason they returned in 2010. According to Figdore, it's a can't-miss event, and his company's presence not only generated new business, but caught the global media's attention as well.

"The SEMA Show enabled Speed Dawg to develop new business relationships, show the quality of our products and expand the awareness of our brand," said Figdore. "Speed Dawg also received a 2010 SEMA Global Media Best New Product Award—a tremendous honor for us that will be utilized in our promotional endeavors."

The business impact of the SEMA Show is something that exhibiting manufacturers will continue to report on throughout 2011. Though each company's story is unique, the common theme is that by claiming a booth space and being a part of the Show, exhibitors will continue to find opportunities that didn't exist a month ago. Throughout the new year, look for 2010 SEMA Show exhibitors to continually grab the media spotlight, taking what premiered in Vegas and delivering it to the world.