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10 Candidates Announced for SEMA Show Fellowship

Entering its second year, SEMA’s Young Executives Network (YEN) Fellowship program has expanded for 2012 to award 10 of the industry’s finest emerging talent.

Through this Fellowship program, SEMA has created a mechanism for helping to fund these individuals' travel expenses for the annual SEMA Show. The Fellowship program, an exclusive YEN-member benefit, was made available to SEMA-member company employees under the age of 40. Participants are asked to take part in a number of specific Show events—including the SEMA Awards Banquet, YEN Reception, and SEI education seminars—focused on developing their business skills and expanding their professional network.

"The YEN Fellowship program is another great example of SEMA’s commitment to engage and support the next generation of SEMA leaders," said Nathan Ridnouer, SEMA’s vice president of councils and membership. "Through their participation in the annual SEMA Show, these young professionals will gain access to career-enhancing educational programs and networking events, and can leverage the experience to bring more value to their employers."

2012 SEMA Show Fellowship candidates include:

Bjorn Cannon

Bjorn Cannon, Realwheels (RWC Inc.)

Cannon is a senior product specialists for RealWheels Corp. in Gurnee, Illinois. His responsibilities include growing existing OEM accounts and developing new business. Joining the company in 2003, Cannon has had the opportunity to gain strategic insight into the sales and marketing of aftermarket accessories. He sees his role as an advocate, providing customers the ability to purchase the right product to fit their unique needs. In addition to customer and sales support in the office, Cannon is active in attending trade shows and events for RealWheels. As a tech guru, he also handles many of the company's IT needs. With a good portion of his youth spent in Europe, Cannon brings a well-rounded, global perspective to his business dealings. After graduating from the University of Iowa with a B.A., he moved to Antioch, Illinois, where he currently resides with his wife Jill and their two sons. His hobbies include fishing, computers, mountain biking and leading his sons' Cub Scouts den. Cannon is continuously striving to improve himself in every field in which he is involved.

Bryant Sanchez

Bryant Sanchez, Exotik Auto Werkz

For more than two decades, Sanchez has been pushing the envelope using every possible tool at his disposal to design, fabricate and custom paint some of the coolest and wildest machines in South Florida, and as far reaching as the opposite end of the world. As a Miami-native gear head, art and cars ran through his blood. At the age of 19, he decided he would develop a niche of not only crafting such ideas into reality, but also offering an avenue where other customs and rods could be repaired, since most people take their cookie-cutter cars to the dealer for service. More than two decades later, and after taking a major blow when the economy tanked, Sanchez is back at what he genuinely adores, breathing life back into lost relics of time and restoring or rebuilding them with a twisted attitude for the road. There's never been a dull moment in this ambitious, crafty and talented designer's career, and he can honestly say he's laid paint, candy and graphics on everything from fire hydrants to jet skis. As founder of Exotik Auto Werkz, he's made a new name and standard for quality custom automotive design, fabrication and repair.

Christopher Harubin

Christopher Harubin, Keystone Automotive Operations

You could say Harubin has been in the automotive industry since the beginning; he was born two months premature and his nursery was filled with engine pieces from the family’s Super Stock Chevrolet Camaro. His passion for the automotive industry was fanned by his family and their love of cars. Attending University of Northwestern Ohio (UNOH), Harubin earned his associate's degree in automotive and high-performance technology and B.A. in business administration, concentrating on marketing and automotive aftermarket management. While attending UNOH, Harubin helped form and lead the Drag Club—a club that promoted drag racing in a legal way among the student body. He also worked on an Alcohol Funny Car team, starting at the bottom and eventually working his way to the position of crew chief. One of the highlights of his education was winning the SEMA Memorial Scholarship and attending the Show in Las Vegas. After graduation, Harubin went to work for Keystone Automotive Operations in Exeter, Pennsylvania. As an account executive for Keystone, he gets the chance to take everything he has learned and mix it with the knowledge of his accounts on a daily basis, pushing them ever higher. This creates happier customers with greater product knowledge, resulting in higher returns for the company. 

Collin Gentry

Collin Gentry, Meyer Distributing

Gentry is an Indiana native who currently resides in Jasper with his wife Kristi. He graduated Cum Laude from the University of Southern Indiana, where he received his B.A. in Spanish education. Gentry has worked as a Spanish and English teacher, Boy Scouts of America den leader and AmeriCorps volunteer, to name a few. He is exploring a new career path as he recently teamed up with one of the leaders in the automotive specialty-products industry, Meyer Distributing. Gentry is one of the company’s bilingual new account specialists, and he is currently training to become an exhaust specialist. When not at work, he enjoys being outside hitting some trails on his mountain bike, or strapping on his boots and going for a hike with his wife and friends.

Enrique Gameros

Enrique Gameros, Meyer Distributing

Gameros is a 25-year-old native of California who was born and raised in Los Angeles, where he attended grade school through his sophomore year of high school. His family then relocated to Jasper, Indiana, where he graduated from Jasper High School in 2005. He attended the University of Southern Indiana, where he is a few credits short of his intended major in business administration. Having worked for the banking industry for three years and the service industry with several restaurant jobs, he was looking for a shift in his professional career. In February 2012, he joined Meyer Distributing—a leader in specialty products marketing and distribution—as a new account specialist. As a fresh face to the automotive industry, his main focus is to learn as much as he can to enhance his knowledge and job performance. Gameros also volunteers his time to United in Harmony—a non-profit organization based in Los Angeles, whose mission is to provide homeless and impoverished children with hope and opportunities.

Eric Croomer

Eric Coomer, DiRiV Media Corp.

Coomer is the co-founder of and president of its parent company, DiRiV Media Corp. He began competitively racing go-karts at an early age and was racing open- and closed-wheel race cars just a few years later. He grew up immersed in all aspects of racing, in addition to working in the family business of developing and selling performance racing electronics. His strong racing and marketing background led him to recognize the frustrating gap between the enthusiast consumers who wanted information about performance parts and the businesses that distributed these products. RxSpeed was created to bridge this gap, allowing enthusiasts to easily find product information while helping businesses reach their target markets. The site includes consumer product reviews, install DIYs, product photo galleries and much more. Coomer's observations and enthusiasm led to the creation of this website, which brings enthusiasts and businesses together.

Matthew Beaubien

Matthew Beaubien,

Beaubien is the founder of—an online community for automotive enthusiasts that allows users to create detailed profiles of their vehicles, including specific parts that they have, want or had. Shops and retailers can showcase project vehicles and generate leads based on specific car models or parts categories. Beaubien started his automotive career as a design engineer with Roush Industries, working on projects, such as the SVT Lightning and Ford GT. He later moved to France where he worked for a manufacturer of plastic components focused on the OEM market. His next stop was Barcelona, Spain, where he completed his MBA at the ESADE Business School. Last year, he moved to Santiago, Chile, after he was accepted into a government-sponsored incubator program called Startup-Chile. The Chilean government provided a visa and equity-free financing for his project,

Rick Cole

Rick Cole, Prestolite Performance

Cole Jr., a native of Cleveland, Ohio, has had a distinguished background in the motorsports/automotive scene for more than 15 years. Currently working for the Prestolite Performance Group in the technical service department, he focuses on providing support on products for all eight brands, including Mallory, Mallory Marine, ACCEL, ACCEL Motorcycle, Mr. Gasket Accessories, Mr. Gasket Gaskets, Lakewood, Hays Clutches, Quicktime Bellhousings. Cole Jr. also has experience with both on-road and off-road motorcycles.

Rory Connell

Rory Connell, Callaway Cars Inc.

Connell has been in the automotive industry since 2006. His career began in the hot-rod industry at Barry’s Speed Shop in Corona, California, where he did entry-level vehicle assembly. His next stop was down the street at West Coast Customs, where he started in the metal fabrication department and, over time, worked his way into management where he was also featured on the "Street Customs" and "Inside West Coast Customs" television shows. Currently, Connell works in the production department at Callaway Cars West in Santa Ana, California. The company is recognized for its powerfully engineered automobiles, most notably Corvettes. Connell enjoys all aspects of the automotive industry, and looks forward to a long career doing what he loves. He was educated at Wyotech in Blairsville, Pennsylvania.

Sheri Koger

Sheri Koger, Rattletrap Productions

Koger began her interest in cars at an early age, attending dragstrips and race tracks as often as possible. She grew up around friends who raced and stayed within these groups of enthusiasts throughout her young adulthood. This life-long passion continued as she began to build a wide variety of contacts across the breadth of niches within the automotive market. In 2009, Koger earned the opportunity to work with Greening Auto Co.—2011 Ridler Award Winner. From 2009–2012, Koger contributed her marketing skills to the company, assisted with financials, sales and purchasing and acted as company liaison, building customer relationships. Koger is a member of the SEMA Businesswomen’s Network (SBN) and Young Executives Network (YEN), and is currently pursuing her B.A. in marketing. As the newest member of Rattletrap Productions—producers of Stacey David "GearZ"—Koger brings a fresh perspective to the marketing team. She also serves as a representative and production assistant to Stacey David and is in charge of design of the sales/marketing packages and Internet branding.